September 20, 2013 at 6:29 AM
Good story, bad leadership
Congratulations to Andrew Garber for your article on state earmarks. [“Olympia earmarks make comeback,” page one, Sept. 8.]
It was disappointing to learn of the reappearance of spending in our state that skirts the regular capital budgeting process, regardless of whether legislators believe them to be “worthy causes.”
A word of advice for Sen. Jim Honeyford: Washingtonians, including voters in your district, expect leadership from leaders in Olympia, especially in these times when legitimate state needs, particularly educational funding, are not being met.
If leadership translates to just saying “no” to uncooperative legislators who wish to skirt the process, then do so. You didn’t become a committee chairman without knowing how to respond properly in these situations, and I’m certain you can trust voters throughout the state to note those who won’t follow the process.
Thomas Franklin, Seattle
September 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM
So the Washington State Patrol and the Tacoma Police Department think it is OK for our elected representatives to speed anywhere in the state during their session, plus 15 days prior? [“Around the Northwest: OK for legislators to speed at times,” NW Monday, Sept. 16.]
Wow, talk about above the law! The police say it is fine for legislators to speed because they may miss a vote. How about some logic here: what votes are taken 15 days before the session?
Is it OK for them to text while driving faster than the speed limit, if they are writing to their aides? Does this disgusting fringe benefit only apply if they are headed in the direction of the Capitol?
If a lawmaker is speeding, do the police run a check on the license plate before pulling him over to see if the car is registered to one of the high-and-mighty? If so, does the officer let him carry on or at least stop him and ask him to slow down?
How many of our elected officials have taken advantage of this nonsense?
I would like to thank all the police departments who disagree with the Washington State Patrol and Tacoma Police Department.
Chris Fleck, Edmonds
August 23, 2013 at 7:29 PM
Some representatives are more receptive than others
We live in a representative democracy. That means that each citizen’s rights and civic issues are represented by elected officials in Washington, D.C.
It should not matter what the issues are; the elected official should be receptive to input from their constituents. Unfortunately, a deaf ear is frequently turned to the constituents, and decisions made without their input or guidance in the present century.
I live in the 1st Congressional District of Washington. I have historically corresponded by mail and email with my representatives. I can report that Sen. Maria Cantwell and her office do a superior job responding to questions and requests for information.
Unfortunately, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene do not do as well. Sen. Murray responds sporadically. Rep. DelBene has never responded.
The federal government is dealing with many issues that require citizen input to their representatives to ensure that votes are being cast in line with the goals and desires of a majority of the relevant citizens.
I encourage all citizens to voice their opinions and request information from their representatives. It is only through interaction with these individuals and voicing our opinions that we, as citizens, can insure our government is a reflection of our goals and desires.
Gregory Kovsky, Redmond
June 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Bill is hypocritical, dangerous
As a part-time teacher, I read the story about the state Senate’s health-care proposal with great interest. [“Part-time school, college staff may lose state health benefits,” NW Thursday, June 13.]
Sen. Andy Hill’s specious proposal for a $2 per hour “raise” could never begin to cover the actual costs of even a single minor health emergency. I searched in vain for another aspect of the story; namely, the health-care benefits enjoyed by each of our state’s part-time legislators.
Supporters of Senate Bill (SB) 5905 are also part-time state employees, yet they brazenly expect to receive their full health-care allocation, which is substantially more than that of even full-time school district employees.
Whether or not SB 5905 becomes actionable in the overall and ongoing budget negotiations, The Times should further investigate this aspect of the story. The passage of a bill like this would be a deal-breaker for the continued service of many of our state’s part-time educators.
John Mellana, Seattle
April 3, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Committee stacked against choice
In a column on Senate Health Care Chairwoman Randi Becker’s decision to shelve the Reproductive Parity Act [“Randi Becker stalls bill, goes against Washington’s tradition of supporting abortion rights,” seattletimes.com/opinionNW, April 2], Thanh Tan, who otherwise lauds the concept of power-sharing in the Senate, states, “This isn’t the decision of the committee. It’s Becker’s. She should own it.”
Actually, it is the decision of the committee — which is stacked with anti-choice Republicans in a pro-choice state. It’s a decision those cheerleading the Senate takeover, including The Seattle Times and Tan, own as much as Becker.
Sen. Rodney Tom’s takeover created a Senate profoundly hostile to values the majority of Washingtonians hold dear, whether on the environment, labor, transit or women’s rights. The Times cannot eat its cake and have it too.
– Brendan Williams, Olympia
April 2, 2013 at 4:08 PM
McKenna proposes worthwhile changes, but leaves one out
As a longtime voter, I was pleased to see Rob McKenna’s statement of changes needed by the GOP [“A reset button for Washington state’s GOP,” Opinion, March 31]. I first voted in November 1952, casting votes for Dwight Eisenhower and other Republicans. I’ve voted in every election since, but with much less support for Republican candidates in recent years. The changes he recommended, plus one more, could earn my votes again.
McKenna omitted one important change that needs to be made if the GOP hopes to get popular respect and support: Its congressional members need to stop being influenced by big business and big-money interests.
Oregon’s former senator and maverick Wayne Morse, referring to congressional members, said something like, “Once they get bought and paid for, they stay bought and paid for. They think that’s integrity.” When we see the GOP senators’ reluctance to correctly tax those interests, that statement seems as pertinent now as it did some 40 years ago.
– H.W. Petersen, Bellevue
Republican Party fails to separate itself from extremists, loses votes
The problem with Republicans is not the delivery system, going to minority neighborhoods, or getting out the message. It is the message itself. Here is the real problem, Rob McKenna: Your political party makes no effort to separate itself from the cranks and extremists within the Republican Party that garner the most local and national attention for their “out of the mainstream” points of view. These are the people whose views came to represent the Republican Party because Republicans allowed them to do so, and in doing so, Republicans gave control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats.
You and I can both name five states in the last two years that should have elected a Republican, but didn’t due in large part to the extreme views of the Republican senatorial nominees themselves. Until the Republican Party quits catering to the extreme points of view of these people, you and your fellow Republicans will continue to lose the votes of people like myself. If you don’t believe me, just ask Karl Rove.
– David C. Sherbrooke, Bellevue
March 28, 2013 at 7:05 AM
Taxpayers don’t want to fund government programs
I disagree with George Coulbourn’s conclusion that the primary cause of state parks underfunding lies with the Legislature [“Disconnect between government, people,” Northwest Voices, March 27].
I think the repeated strong approval of Tim Eyman’s initiatives to require a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes makes it very clear that taxpayers don’t want to pay what it takes to provide better funding for government programs. The fact that this results in underfunding state parks, dangerously mentally ill people running loose, poor schools and the like is OK with the taxpayers; they just want that money in their own pockets.
As was so wisely stated in the Pogo comic strip many years back, “We have met the enemy, and he is us”.
–Pete Beaupain, Auburn
March 26, 2013 at 4:28 PM
Olympia should prioritize prison reform
Thank you for the excellent, full opinion-page coverage suggesting alternatives to building a new state prison [“Consider alternatives to a new state prison,” Opinion, March 24]. I look forward to continuing coverage exploring further alternatives to expensive and largely ineffective long-term incarceration.
As suggested, there is mounting research-based evidence from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and from others that education and re-entry programs not only serve to more successfully rehabilitate inmates back into society, but they are also more cost effective than longer prison terms in reducing recidivism.
After decades of increasing our prison population and the billions of dollars it has cost us, the time is ripe for legislators on both sides of the aisle — and perhaps most especially Gov. Jay Inslee — to establish a primary objective of accomplishing prison reform in our state. Thank you for your leadership toward this end.
–Tom Ewell, chairman, Criminal Justice Working Group
Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy, Clinton
March 26, 2013 at 3:39 PM
Disconnect between government and people
Fact: State parks are underfunded because the Legislature chooses to underfund them [“Budget-starved parks mark grim centennial,” page one, March 24]. Same thing with K-24 (or 2-23), roads and many other functions that are highly visible and highly desirable.
Our elected officials behave as though they think the public is either inattentive or stupid. We’re both. We keep sending them back to Olympia. And so we get what we deserve.
Before fees were charged, Flaming Geyser State Park, near my home, was jammed on summer evenings and weekends. Now it’s deserted. To be blunt, many of the folks who used it looked like they didn’t have the means to take a trip to Disneyland. Now where can they go?
Open parks serve the entire range of the population. By charging a relatively stiff fee, the state erected a barrier to the more needy among us. It’s another example of unintended consequences by government.
–George Coulbourn, Black Diamond
March 26, 2013 at 6:34 AM
Cuts should be extended to erring politicians
Regarding the article on how to balance the budget [“As budget battle lines take shape, analogies fly,” NWThursday, March 21], why wouldn’t you first look at the politicians salaries?
Obviously, by elected politicians deciding how to spend the money and on what programs — in which they can’t even get that right and it takes the Supreme Court to tell them where to correctly budget it — they have put us in this mess. In any organization, the decision-maker who makes the wrong decisions is the one who gets cut. Why do we have to suffer for their follies and mismanagement and lack of fiscal responsibility?
Like a household, they know what needs to get paid for and when, but didn’t budget correctly. So instead they try to come up with new ways that we, the public, should make up for their mistakes. Treat them like employees in the private sector. If they feel that cuts need to be made, we should first be looking at their benefits and salaries.
I feel it is completely unfair that cuts for many services are being looked at without elected politicians’ benefits and salary packages being looked at just as well.
–Andy Goeres, Seattle
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