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To repeal or not to repeal

Washington Senate Bill 5688 requires that state-registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as married spouses. Right now 12,000 people are registered in Washington as domestic partners, including heterosexual couples. Among other rights, the new law allows partners to use sick leave to care for each other and gives them rights to each other’s disability and unemployment benefits.

Approval of Referendum 71 would ratify the new law.

Lorne Blackman’s Oct. 7 letter urges a "no" vote. He states: "Modifying the institution to appease one class of deviant behavior means it must eventually be opened to all classes." He says "The next phase in the degradation of the marriage covenant will be multiple partner unions (polyamory)."

The "logic" goes like this: Event "A" (in this case, approving the domestic partnership law) will inevitably cause "B" (legalizing every sexual innovation), which will cause "C" (rampant polyamory).

Anyone who can predict "A" will lead to "C" should have no trouble winning the lottery. It’s the recycled domino theory (losing in Vietnam will cause neighboring countries to topple into communism), designed to scare voters into rejecting Referendum 71.

Our country has a long history of expanding human rights, from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to the 19th Amendment (giving women voting rights) to recent laws aimed at ending the persecution of gay people. Have these incremental changes weakened or strengthened our moral standards? African-Americans are no longer lynched, women are no longer treated as property and sexual relations between gay partners are no longer crimes.

Approval of Referendum 71 will further our struggle to become more tolerant. Do we want to deny Washington’s domestic partners the right to take care of each other?

WAIT! I feel myself changing from Doctor Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. I like Mr. Blackman’s logic. Let’s repeal the 19th Amendment and take away women’s voting rights.

If we let women vote, our standards will crumble. Soon children will be voting. Next we’ll let illegal immigrants vote. Shortly thereafter Iranians and North Koreans will be electing U.S. officials.

What’s that, ladies? You say losing your voting rights will lead to the loss of more rights and you’ll wind up being treated as property again?

Don’t worry. We males take good care of our property.

Martin McCaw

Prescott

Popular vote advocates wrong

The movement by the Group Against Electoral College to get state legislatures to award their electoral votes in a presidential election to the candidate who gets the most votes nationally is wrong when iy says it will lead to more attention being paid to less populous states.

I think it will have the opposite effect. For instance, Idaho has one-half of one percent of the U.S. population, but three-quarters of one percent of the electoral votes (four of 535).

Montana’s population is one-third of one percent of the total, but its three electoral votes amount to nearly twice that.

The influence of small states will thus be downgraded, and candidates will concentrate on the population centers, such as California, which has 12 percent of the population, but only 10 percent of the electoral votes.

Some of us can remember when Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon still had reasonable leverage in their respective state legislatures. Then came the Supreme Court on-man-one-vote ruling in the 1960s, and legislative power concentrated in the coastal areas. We on the east side were reduced to beggars in the legislatures.

It has been said that a democracy will last only until the subjects realize they can vote themselves largesse. Our Founding Fathers wisely set up a Congress and a presidential electoral system that helps protect the minority from tyranny by the majority.

The big population centers are largely consumers of wealth, and have no appreciation for the fact that wealth is mostly created from the natural resources extracted from thinly populated areas (from our soils, our forests, our waters, our winds, our deserts). To protect the rights of people in those areas, their vote needs to carry just a little more weight.

We don’t have a true democracy. We have a representative democracy, and I think it works very well.

Jack DeWitt

Milton-Freewater

Grant will benefit 16th District

I read a letter to the editor about the pending election for 16th District state representative. The letter stated in part, "Applicant must be able to provide superb representation for the varied interests of the residents" of the 16th District. I cannot agree more with this assessment.

But as I read further it became clear that the author and I had different understandings of the term "superb representation." For her it meant completing a check list of memberships — kind of like a pedigree for a dog show. For example, she cited Lt. Nealey’s military service, but at the height of the Vietnam War this sunshine patriot could not find his way to Southeast Asia.

"Superb representation" should be the ability to understand the concerns of the 16th District and then be effective in promoting and/or protecting those interests.

Lt. Nealey cannot accomplish anything in Olympia without the permission of the huge Democrat majority.

Laura Grant’s talents have been recognized by the Democratic leadership and she is the vice chairwoman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee — a leadership position on the most important committee to this region.

Before voting in this contest, seriously ask yourself which candidate in these tough fiscal times has a better chance of: 1) Preserving the funding for U.S. Highway 12, 2) Preserving the tax exemption for agricultural fuel, 3) Preserving the tax exemption for the sale of qualifying farm equipment, 4) Preserving adequate funding for our community colleges, 5) Preventing a B&O tax on farmers, and 6) Protecting the Washington State Penitentiary. If these issues come up in the next session, only Laura Grant will have the ability to favorably influence their outcome.

In the best interest of the 16th District, please join me in voting for Laura Grant for state representative.

Jim Baker

Walla Walla

Horner’s photos are precious

I would like to join in the singing of praises of Jeff Horner’s stellar photography. His photos has been delighting, intriguing, amusing and astonishing me for many years.

Dozens of his pictures have been too precious for the recycling bin; I have clipped them out of the U-B and placed them on my stairwell wall. The most recent addition to "The Jeff Horner Wall" is his Maxfield Parrish-esque "Fly Me to the Moon," which afforded me yet another "ah-h-h" moment.

Linda Herbert

Walla Walla

Fuzzy math by Touchet officials

You might have heard that Touchet School students’ math is not so good at the middle school level. But it seems they must have the School Board and superintendents as role models.

The board has authorized $20,000 (and counting) to pay one lawyer, when it could have spent $8,000 to settle the contract with 23 teachers and start school with a calendar. Maybe board members were sick on the day "less than/more than" was taught.

Teachers and board members go back to mediation on Oct. 19 to settle on a contract that should have been done back in August. Let’s hope they get it right this time.

Vernon Elsasser

Touchet

Obama’s vision earned him Nobel Prize

Among the avalanche of instant judgments upon the Nobel Peace Committee’s awarding the prize to President Obama, a great many were visceral, showing little thought and less understanding of either the values the Nobel Committee espouses or the ways in which Barack Obama has already evinced commitment to those values.

Let me mention one exception. Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC show Friday night Oct. 9, gave her critical response to the naysayers. More importantly, she went on to give a well researched and intelligent argument that the Peace Prize has often gone to individuals who have articulated a vision and a world order that lifts hopes and makes room for fresh thinking and action on human problems. She includes President Obama in that group.

Are Obama’s ideas and his world view guaranteed success? Of course not.

But complainers don’t show much evidence that they and the leaders they applaud have ideas and policies that assure any better the mitigation of violence around the world, including that variety of world disorder that is a consequence of the existence anywhere of nuclear arms.

Ray Norsworthy

Walla Walla

More taxes, higher premiums and less coverage

Recently AARP endorsed the health-care proposal being offered by the Democrats. In addition there was a letter to the editor that indicated that since AARP was endorsing the plan it must be OK.

AARP is endorsing the plan because it will benefit financially from it and not because it is best for its members. If AARP can’t represent its members then it certainly doesn’t deserve our membership.

A number of its members have figured this out and have dropped their membership.

I have had various types of health insurance all of my working life. I know firsthand that it is expensive and the premiums seem to increase every year. I suspect there may be some areas that could be changed that would lower the cost. Areas like tort reform and removing state mandates.

Unfortunately these areas aren’t being addressed. Consequently health-care costs aren’t going to decline much, if any, because of the current proposal. Now we are hearing that the Baucus plan won’t incur a deficit to reform health insurance, which removes a big obstacle for liberals.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal indicated the savings from this proposal would primarily come from Medicare reductions and new taxes.

According to advocates, the cost is now under control but that appears to be because they are passing the increased cost on to us.

If you want to pay higher taxes and receive less Medicare benefits for a questionable new health-care package then this plan is for you.

I suspect those above the poverty level will probably get both high insurance premiums and higher taxes along with reduced Medicare benefits, but that is just speculation on my part.

Nat Webb

Walla Walla

Laura Grant is a citizen legislator

I wish to acknowledge Scott Gruber for his recent letter reminding me that a given name does not include its surname. I stand corrected.

Rep. Laura Grant, in using the name given to her by her mother and father, is following a valid and widely accepted practice of professional women. Let’s be honest here. Who, among the 16th District voters over the last decades, has not had her or his life bring forth unplanned and unhoped for changes?

As a once young married woman, I am touched by the commitment, love and hope reflected in the name Laura Grant-Herriott.

We should all be as fortunate as Ms. Grant-Herriot was that, in a very difficult time, she had a name as respected as Bill Grant’s.

Since when has it been nefarious to use one’s father’s name? Rep. Grant is not "riding her father’s surname (and coattails) to further her fledgling political career" as Mr. Gruber asserts.

To the contrary, she has the special good fortune that her father’s name, Grant, is one which embodies goodwill and respect and this goodwill and respect earned by Bill Grant over decades has been extended to her and us, the 16th District, by her fellow legislators. This outpouring of help in the Legislature will bear fruit and gives the 16th District a manifest advantage.

This writer also states that Rep. Grant, contrary to her opponent, has a "lack of community involvement credentials." Laura Grant, as a 17-year veteran of the Walla Walla Public Schools, has worked at the heart of our community where our beloved children are. Think of the students, their parents, aunts, uncles, guardians, siblings, grandparents, friends and neighbors who are the part of Laura Grant’s community.

I am a 13-year mother-veteran of a public school system. I think no other community involvement exceeds that of our teachers. (I salute Mrs. Bailey, Mr. Schwager, Agnes Little!) Teachers don’t vaunt themselves.

The 16th District is fortunate in sending the only full-time teacher to Washington’s citizen Legislature, which is comprised of women and men who earn their livings in their communities, not in Olympia. Bill Grant was the only full-time farmer in our Legislature.

Lesley M. McCormmach

Walla Walla

Initiative 1033 should be rejected

I’m not writing today because I am a "tax monger," but as a concerned citizen. I want to inform you as property owners and taxpayers in Walla Walla County about the inappropriateness of the latest Tim Eyman tax measure. I-1033 is wrong for Washington. It was wrong for Colorado and it will be wrong here.

The Office of Financial Management of the state of Washington has compiled an outline of the impacts I-1033 will bring in its wake.

I quote, "Initiative 1033 limits the annual growth of state, city and county general fund revenue to the rate of inflation and population growth. General fund revenues exceeding this limit must be used to reduce the following year’s state, city and county general fund property tax levy.

The Initiative reduces state general fund revenues that support education, social, health and environmental services; and general government activities by an estimated $5.9 billion by 2015.

The Initiative also reduces general fund revenues that support public safety, infrastructure and general government activities by an estimated $694 million for counties and $2.1 billion for cities by 2015."

The current recession has cost the state of Washington $1.5 billion in budget cuts to higher education and public schools by putting 3,000 teachers and education employees out of work. Other cuts will occur in basic health services to 40,000 Washington residents.

If I-1033 passes government will never recover from the recession.

A similar initiative was passed in Colorado in 1992. As a result funding for public services plunged and Colorado dropped to 49th in the nation in education funding.

After just five catastrophic years, voters decided to overturn the measure. Both candidates for 16th District representative, Terry Nealey and Laura Grant, feel that it is bad legislation.

Suffice it to say that I-1033 is overkill. It, like most Eyman initiatives, promises much but delivers only chaos.

Please vote no on Initiative I-1033!

Bill Vollendorff

Walla Walla

Letters welcome

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.


To repeal or not to repeal

Washington Senate Bill 5688 requires that state-registered domestic partners shall be treated the same as married spouses. Right now 12,000 people are registered in Washington as domestic partners, including heterosexual couples. Among other rights, the new law allows partners to use sick leave to care for each other and gives them rights to each other’s disability and unemployment benefits.

Approval of Referendum 71 would ratify the new law.

Lorne Blackman’s Oct. 7 letter urges a "no" vote. He states: "Modifying the institution to appease one class of deviant behavior means it must eventually be opened to all classes." He says "The next phase in the degradation of the marriage covenant will be multiple partner unions (polyamory)."

The "logic" goes like this: Event "A" (in this case, approving the domestic partnership law) will inevitably cause "B" (legalizing every sexual innovation), which will cause "C" (rampant polyamory).

Anyone who can predict "A" will lead to "C" should have no trouble winning the lottery. It’s the recycled domino theory (losing in Vietnam will cause neighboring countries to topple into communism), designed to scare voters into rejecting Referendum 71.

Our country has a long history of expanding human rights, from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to the 19th Amendment (giving women voting rights) to recent laws aimed at ending the persecution of gay people. Have these incremental changes weakened or strengthened our moral standards? African-Americans are no longer lynched, women are no longer treated as property and sexual relations between gay partners are no longer crimes.

Approval of Referendum 71 will further our struggle to become more tolerant. Do we want to deny Washington’s domestic partners the right to take care of each other?

WAIT! I feel myself changing from Doctor Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. I like Mr. Blackman’s logic. Let’s repeal the 19th Amendment and take away women’s voting rights.

If we let women vote, our standards will crumble. Soon children will be voting. Next we’ll let illegal immigrants vote. Shortly thereafter Iranians and North Koreans will be electing U.S. officials.

What’s that, ladies? You say losing your voting rights will lead to the loss of more rights and you’ll wind up being treated as property again?

Don’t worry. We males take good care of our property.

Martin McCaw

Prescott

Popular vote advocates wrong

The movement by the Group Against Electoral College to get state legislatures to award their electoral votes in a presidential election to the candidate who gets the most votes nationally is wrong when iy says it will lead to more attention being paid to less populous states.

I think it will have the opposite effect. For instance, Idaho has one-half of one percent of the U.S. population, but three-quarters of one percent of the electoral votes (four of 535).

Montana’s population is one-third of one percent of the total, but its three electoral votes amount to nearly twice that.

The influence of small states will thus be downgraded, and candidates will concentrate on the population centers, such as California, which has 12 percent of the population, but only 10 percent of the electoral votes.

Some of us can remember when Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon still had reasonable leverage in their respective state legislatures. Then came the Supreme Court on-man-one-vote ruling in the 1960s, and legislative power concentrated in the coastal areas. We on the east side were reduced to beggars in the legislatures.

It has been said that a democracy will last only until the subjects realize they can vote themselves largesse. Our Founding Fathers wisely set up a Congress and a presidential electoral system that helps protect the minority from tyranny by the majority.

The big population centers are largely consumers of wealth, and have no appreciation for the fact that wealth is mostly created from the natural resources extracted from thinly populated areas (from our soils, our forests, our waters, our winds, our deserts). To protect the rights of people in those areas, their vote needs to carry just a little more weight.

We don’t have a true democracy. We have a representative democracy, and I think it works very well.

Jack DeWitt

Milton-Freewater

Grant will benefit 16th District

I read a letter to the editor about the pending election for 16th District state representative. The letter stated in part, "Applicant must be able to provide superb representation for the varied interests of the residents" of the 16th District. I cannot agree more with this assessment.

But as I read further it became clear that the author and I had different understandings of the term "superb representation." For her it meant completing a check list of memberships — kind of like a pedigree for a dog show. For example, she cited Lt. Nealey’s military service, but at the height of the Vietnam War this sunshine patriot could not find his way to Southeast Asia.

"Superb representation" should be the ability to understand the concerns of the 16th District and then be effective in promoting and/or protecting those interests.

Lt. Nealey cannot accomplish anything in Olympia without the permission of the huge Democrat majority.

Laura Grant’s talents have been recognized by the Democratic leadership and she is the vice chairwoman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee — a leadership position on the most important committee to this region.

Before voting in this contest, seriously ask yourself which candidate in these tough fiscal times has a better chance of: 1) Preserving the funding for U.S. Highway 12, 2) Preserving the tax exemption for agricultural fuel, 3) Preserving the tax exemption for the sale of qualifying farm equipment, 4) Preserving adequate funding for our community colleges, 5) Preventing a BO tax on farmers, and 6) Protecting the Washington State Penitentiary. If these issues come up in the next session, only Laura Grant will have the ability to favorably influence their outcome.

In the best interest of the 16th District, please join me in voting for Laura Grant for state representative.

Jim Baker

Walla Walla

Horner’s photos are precious

I would like to join in the singing of praises of Jeff Horner’s stellar photography. His photos has been delighting, intriguing, amusing and astonishing me for many years.

Dozens of his pictures have been too precious for the recycling bin; I have clipped them out of the U-B and placed them on my stairwell wall. The most recent addition to "The Jeff Horner Wall" is his Maxfield Parrish-esque "Fly Me to the Moon," which afforded me yet another "ah-h-h" moment.

Linda Herbert

Walla Walla

Fuzzy math by Touchet officials

You might have heard that Touchet School students’ math is not so good at the middle school level. But it seems they must have the School Board and superintendents as role models.

The board has authorized $20,000 (and counting) to pay one lawyer, when it could have spent $8,000 to settle the contract with 23 teachers and start school with a calendar. Maybe board members were sick on the day "less than/more than" was taught.

Teachers and board members go back to mediation on Oct. 19 to settle on a contract that should have been done back in August. Let’s hope they get it right this time.

Vernon Elsasser

Touchet

Obama’s vision earned him Nobel Prize

Among the avalanche of instant judgments upon the Nobel Peace Committee’s awarding the prize to President Obama, a great many were visceral, showing little thought and less understanding of either the values the Nobel Committee espouses or the ways in which Barack Obama has already evinced commitment to those values.

Let me mention one exception. Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC show Friday night Oct. 9, gave her critical response to the naysayers. More importantly, she went on to give a well researched and intelligent argument that the Peace Prize has often gone to individuals who have articulated a vision and a world order that lifts hopes and makes room for fresh thinking and action on human problems. She includes President Obama in that group.

Are Obama’s ideas and his world view guaranteed success? Of course not.

But complainers don’t show much evidence that they and the leaders they applaud have ideas and policies that assure any better the mitigation of violence around the world, including that variety of world disorder that is a consequence of the existence anywhere of nuclear arms.

Ray Norsworthy

Walla Walla

More taxes, higher premiums and less coverage

Recently AARP endorsed the health-care proposal being offered by the Democrats. In addition there was a letter to the editor that indicated that since AARP was endorsing the plan it must be OK.

AARP is endorsing the plan because it will benefit financially from it and not because it is best for its members. If AARP can’t represent its members then it certainly doesn’t deserve our membership.

A number of its members have figured this out and have dropped their membership.

I have had various types of health insurance all of my working life. I know firsthand that it is expensive and the premiums seem to increase every year. I suspect there may be some areas that could be changed that would lower the cost. Areas like tort reform and removing state mandates.

Unfortunately these areas aren’t being addressed. Consequently health-care costs aren’t going to decline much, if any, because of the current proposal. Now we are hearing that the Baucus plan won’t incur a deficit to reform health insurance, which removes a big obstacle for liberals.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal indicated the savings from this proposal would primarily come from Medicare reductions and new taxes.

According to advocates, the cost is now under control but that appears to be because they are passing the increased cost on to us.

If you want to pay higher taxes and receive less Medicare benefits for a questionable new health-care package then this plan is for you.

I suspect those above the poverty level will probably get both high insurance premiums and higher taxes along with reduced Medicare benefits, but that is just speculation on my part.

Nat Webb

Walla Walla

Laura Grant is a citizen legislator

I wish to acknowledge Scott Gruber for his recent letter reminding me that a given name does not include its surname. I stand corrected.

Rep. Laura Grant, in using the name given to her by her mother and father, is following a valid and widely accepted practice of professional women. Let’s be honest here. Who, among the 16th District voters over the last decades, has not had her or his life bring forth unplanned and unhoped for changes?

As a once young married woman, I am touched by the commitment, love and hope reflected in the name Laura Grant-Herriott.

We should all be as fortunate as Ms. Grant-Herriot was that, in a very difficult time, she had a name as respected as Bill Grant’s.

Since when has it been nefarious to use one’s father’s name? Rep. Grant is not "riding her father’s surname (and coattails) to further her fledgling political career" as Mr. Gruber asserts.

To the contrary, she has the special good fortune that her father’s name, Grant, is one which embodies goodwill and respect and this goodwill and respect earned by Bill Grant over decades has been extended to her and us, the 16th District, by her fellow legislators. This outpouring of help in the Legislature will bear fruit and gives the 16th District a manifest advantage.

This writer also states that Rep. Grant, contrary to her opponent, has a "lack of community involvement credentials." Laura Grant, as a 17-year veteran of the Walla Walla Public Schools, has worked at the heart of our community where our beloved children are. Think of the students, their parents, aunts, uncles, guardians, siblings, grandparents, friends and neighbors who are the part of Laura Grant’s community.

I am a 13-year mother-veteran of a public school system. I think no other community involvement exceeds that of our teachers. (I salute Mrs. Bailey, Mr. Schwager, Agnes Little!) Teachers don’t vaunt themselves.

The 16th District is fortunate in sending the only full-time teacher to Washington’s citizen Legislature, which is comprised of women and men who earn their livings in their communities, not in Olympia. Bill Grant was the only full-time farmer in our Legislature.

Lesley M. McCormmach

Walla Walla

Initiative 1033 should be rejected

I’m not writing today because I am a "tax monger," but as a concerned citizen. I want to inform you as property owners and taxpayers in Walla Walla County about the inappropriateness of the latest Tim Eyman tax measure. I-1033 is wrong for Washington. It was wrong for Colorado and it will be wrong here.

The Office of Financial Management of the state of Washington has compiled an outline of the impacts I-1033 will bring in its wake.

I quote, "Initiative 1033 limits the annual growth of state, city and county general fund revenue to the rate of inflation and population growth. General fund revenues exceeding this limit must be used to reduce the following year’s state, city and county general fund property tax levy.

The Initiative reduces state general fund revenues that support education, social, health and environmental services; and general government activities by an estimated $5.9 billion by 2015.

The Initiative also reduces general fund revenues that support public safety, infrastructure and general government activities by an estimated $694 million for counties and $2.1 billion for cities by 2015."

The current recession has cost the state of Washington $1.5 billion in budget cuts to higher education and public schools by putting 3,000 teachers and education employees out of work. Other cuts will occur in basic health services to 40,000 Washington residents.

If I-1033 passes government will never recover from the recession.

A similar initiative was passed in Colorado in 1992. As a result funding for public services plunged and Colorado dropped to 49th in the nation in education funding.

After just five catastrophic years, voters decided to overturn the measure. Both candidates for 16th District representative, Terry Nealey and Laura Grant, feel that it is bad legislation.

Suffice it to say that I-1033 is overkill. It, like most Eyman initiatives, promises much but delivers only chaos.

Please vote no on Initiative I-1033!

Bill Vollendorff

Walla Walla

Letters welcome

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.


Grant will benefit 16th District

I read a letter to the editor about the pending election for 16th District state representative. The letter stated in part, "Applicant must be able to provide superb representation for the varied interests of the residents" of the 16th District. I cannot agree more with this assessment.

But as I read further it became clear that the author and I had different understandings of the term "superb representation." For her it meant completing a check list of memberships — kind of like a pedigree for a dog show. For example, she cited Lt. Nealey’s military service, but at the height of the Vietnam War this sunshine patriot could not find his way to Southeast Asia.

"Superb representation" should be the ability to understand the concerns of the 16th District and then be effective in promoting and/or protecting those interests.

Lt. Nealey cannot accomplish anything in Olympia without the permission of the huge Democrat majority.

Laura Grant’s talents have been recognized by the Democratic leadership and she is the vice chairwoman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee — a leadership position on the most important committee to this region.

Before voting in this contest, seriously ask yourself which candidate in these tough fiscal times has a better chance of: 1) Preserving the funding for U.S. Highway 12, 2) Preserving the tax exemption for agricultural fuel, 3) Preserving the tax exemption for the sale of qualifying farm equipment, 4) Preserving adequate funding for our community colleges, 5) Preventing a BO tax on farmers, and 6) Protecting the Washington State Penitentiary. If these issues come up in the next session, only Laura Grant will have the ability to favorably influence their outcome.

In the best interest of the 16th District, please join me in voting for Laura Grant for state representative.

Jim Baker

Walla Walla

Horner’s photos are precious

I would like to join in the singing of praises of Jeff Horner’s stellar photography. His photos has been delighting, intriguing, amusing and astonishing me for many years.

Dozens of his pictures have been too precious for the recycling bin; I have clipped them out of the U-B and placed them on my stairwell wall. The most recent addition to "The Jeff Horner Wall" is his Maxfield Parrish-esque "Fly Me to the Moon," which afforded me yet another "ah-h-h" moment.

Linda Herbert

Walla Walla

Fuzzy math by Touchet officials

You might have heard that Touchet School students’ math is not so good at the middle school level. But it seems they must have the School Board and superintendents as role models.

The board has authorized $20,000 (and counting) to pay one lawyer, when it could have spent $8,000 to settle the contract with 23 teachers and start school with a calendar. Maybe board members were sick on the day "less than/more than" was taught.

Teachers and board members go back to mediation on Oct. 19 to settle on a contract that should have been done back in August. Let’s hope they get it right this time.

Vernon Elsasser

Touchet

Obama’s vision earned him Nobel Prize

Among the avalanche of instant judgments upon the Nobel Peace Committee’s awarding the prize to President Obama, a great many were visceral, showing little thought and less understanding of either the values the Nobel Committee espouses or the ways in which Barack Obama has already evinced commitment to those values.

Let me mention one exception. Rachel Maddow, on her MSNBC show Friday night Oct. 9, gave her critical response to the naysayers. More importantly, she went on to give a well researched and intelligent argument that the Peace Prize has often gone to individuals who have articulated a vision and a world order that lifts hopes and makes room for fresh thinking and action on human problems. She includes President Obama in that group.

Are Obama’s ideas and his world view guaranteed success? Of course not.

But complainers don’t show much evidence that they and the leaders they applaud have ideas and policies that assure any better the mitigation of violence around the world, including that variety of world disorder that is a consequence of the existence anywhere of nuclear arms.

Ray Norsworthy

Walla Walla

More taxes, higher premiums and less coverage

Recently AARP endorsed the health-care proposal being offered by the Democrats. In addition there was a letter to the editor that indicated that since AARP was endorsing the plan it must be OK.

AARP is endorsing the plan because it will benefit financially from it and not because it is best for its members. If AARP can’t represent its members then it certainly doesn’t deserve our membership.

A number of its members have figured this out and have dropped their membership.

I have had various types of health insurance all of my working life. I know firsthand that it is expensive and the premiums seem to increase every year. I suspect there may be some areas that could be changed that would lower the cost. Areas like tort reform and removing state mandates.

Unfortunately these areas aren’t being addressed. Consequently health-care costs aren’t going to decline much, if any, because of the current proposal. Now we are hearing that the Baucus plan won’t incur a deficit to reform health insurance, which removes a big obstacle for liberals.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal indicated the savings from this proposal would primarily come from Medicare reductions and new taxes.

According to advocates, the cost is now under control but that appears to be because they are passing the increased cost on to us.

If you want to pay higher taxes and receive less Medicare benefits for a questionable new health-care package then this plan is for you.

I suspect those above the poverty level will probably get both high insurance premiums and higher taxes along with reduced Medicare benefits, but that is just speculation on my part.

Nat Webb

Walla Walla

Laura Grant is a citizen legislator

I wish to acknowledge Scott Gruber for his recent letter reminding me that a given name does not include its surname. I stand corrected.

Rep. Laura Grant, in using the name given to her by her mother and father, is following a valid and widely accepted practice of professional women. Let’s be honest here. Who, among the 16th District voters over the last decades, has not had her or his life bring forth unplanned and unhoped for changes?

As a once young married woman, I am touched by the commitment, love and hope reflected in the name Laura Grant-Herriott.

We should all be as fortunate as Ms. Grant-Herriot was that, in a very difficult time, she had a name as respected as Bill Grant’s.

Since when has it been nefarious to use one’s father’s name? Rep. Grant is not "riding her father’s surname (and coattails) to further her fledgling political career" as Mr. Gruber asserts.

To the contrary, she has the special good fortune that her father’s name, Grant, is one which embodies goodwill and respect and this goodwill and respect earned by Bill Grant over decades has been extended to her and us, the 16th District, by her fellow legislators. This outpouring of help in the Legislature will bear fruit and gives the 16th District a manifest advantage.

This writer also states that Rep. Grant, contrary to her opponent, has a "lack of community involvement credentials." Laura Grant, as a 17-year veteran of the Walla Walla Public Schools, has worked at the heart of our community where our beloved children are. Think of the students, their parents, aunts, uncles, guardians, siblings, grandparents, friends and neighbors who are the part of Laura Grant’s community.

I am a 13-year mother-veteran of a public school system. I think no other community involvement exceeds that of our teachers. (I salute Mrs. Bailey, Mr. Schwager, Agnes Little!) Teachers don’t vaunt themselves.

The 16th District is fortunate in sending the only full-time teacher to Washington’s citizen Legislature, which is comprised of women and men who earn their livings in their communities, not in Olympia. Bill Grant was the only full-time farmer in our Legislature.

Lesley M. McCormmach

Walla Walla

Initiative 1033 should be rejected

I’m not writing today because I am a "tax monger," but as a concerned citizen. I want to inform you as property owners and taxpayers in Walla Walla County about the inappropriateness of the latest Tim Eyman tax measure. I-1033 is wrong for Washington. It was wrong for Colorado and it will be wrong here.

The Office of Financial Management of the state of Washington has compiled an outline of the impacts I-1033 will bring in its wake.

I quote, "Initiative 1033 limits the annual growth of state, city and county general fund revenue to the rate of inflation and population growth. General fund revenues exceeding this limit must be used to reduce the following year’s state, city and county general fund property tax levy.

The Initiative reduces state general fund revenues that support education, social, health and environmental services; and general government activities by an estimated $5.9 billion by 2015.

The Initiative also reduces general fund revenues that support public safety, infrastructure and general government activities by an estimated $694 million for counties and $2.1 billion for cities by 2015."

The current recession has cost the state of Washington $1.5 billion in budget cuts to higher education and public schools by putting 3,000 teachers and education employees out of work. Other cuts will occur in basic health services to 40,000 Washington residents.

If I-1033 passes government will never recover from the recession.

A similar initiative was passed in Colorado in 1992. As a result funding for public services plunged and Colorado dropped to 49th in the nation in education funding.

After just five catastrophic years, voters decided to overturn the measure. Both candidates for 16th District representative, Terry Nealey and Laura Grant, feel that it is bad legislation.

Suffice it to say that I-1033 is overkill. It, like most Eyman initiatives, promises much but delivers only chaos.

Please vote no on Initiative I-1033!

Bill Vollendorff

Walla Walla

Letters welcome

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.


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