OUR READERS' OPINIONS

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Obama gave impressive speech

President Obama gave an impressive State of the Union address on Wednesday. He showed that he understands how the national malaise has come about. He pushed back against a number of false or simple-minded constructions of what is wrong. He took on several sermonizing pronouncements — and did some preaching himself.

One of Obama’s most powerful points was his characterization of the stance being taken by congressional Republicans, especially in the Senate. He told them, and the nation, that if en bloc you are going to "just say no" (including threat of filibuster) to every proffered solution, then you must share in the consequences of inaction. Your stance may be good short-term politics, he said, but it isn’t leadership.

My question is: How has American society reached the point where a president could say that these antics (in this case largely Republican) can be judged to be "good politics," even if only short-term?

Obama did give one clue to an answer: He included the "punditry" (mass media) as sharing responsibility for a political (and societal) problem.

The larger issue, I think, is whether there is coming about a degradation of political conversation — a trivialization of substantive debate with the result that fact and evidence matter little in considering controversial questions. I think that large numbers of Americans are subject to being anesthetized by "weapons of mass distraction."

Ray Norsworthy

Walla Walla

Allegations are not news

I think that articles in the U-B too often focus on allegations and charges filed against people. I was reminded of this by Tuesday’s article about a trial in Dayton where three people were found innocent of rape.

I’m curious about how many times these people’s names were printed in connection to the case before their day in court. When you report on allegations, you drag people’s names through the mud before a trial ever occurs.

In our legal system, we’re supposedly presumed innocent until we’re proven guilty. Go ahead and ruin the reputation of a person convicted of a crime, but not until it’s proven he or she deserves it.

I realize with some chagrin that certain types of stories sell more papers. However, I think it’s inappropriate and a disservice to the community when the paper prints unsubstantiated charges under dramatic headlines, calling it news.

Andy Asmus

Walla Walla

Support urged for tax increase

As an 11-year resident of Walla Walla, I want to express my support for the ballot measure for Valley Transit which would increase our sales tax by three cents on a $10 purchase.

I am a rider of Valley Transit who happens to be blind and depend on its services for getting to work, medical appointments and leisure activities, all of which enhance my quality of life.

Even though these are difficult economic times we live in and as a person living on a fixed income, I still support the increase in this tax.

With passage of this measure, Valley Transit will be able to continue providing its terrific services that riders have come to appreciate and depend upon.

Vivian Conger

Walla Walla

Public can’t ignore dam problems

A response to John McKern’s letter of Jan. 24.

My original letter on Dec. 13 was a challenge to the public to come up with a solution for the filling of dam pools due to siltation. Perhaps involve emergency preparedness?

Flood control dams are supposed to contain any and all potential flood waters. Reduced capacity for containment should cause great concern. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should be the first to advise the public of problems and of probable solutions. The Corps seems to be evading the issue — report current status of pools vs. original.

John McKern’s letter was an example of such evasion. However, it did reveal that siltation is taking place throughout the system, even into the ocean. Fish passage and transportation facilities can’t function during full operation of the dams. Wildlife habitat was lost in the dam process. Contaminants are the same throughout the system and the Corps considers them on their average, rather than at their extremes (that does not make the sediments safe for agricultural use), and downplays impacts.

It sounded like McKern is still representing the Corps. Downplay does not provide the truth for the public. Perhaps downplay is supposed to be the opposite of exaggeration.

Apparently McKern takes my comments as opportunity for personal debate. I do not intend a continuing battle of wits, by which someone can show how clever he or she is at evasion. McKern’s last line inferred that I exaggerate in order to get dams breached. I never suggested breaching dams.

Perhaps breaching is what McKern feels is the dreaded ultimate solution. As far as exaggerate — I have only related facts and findings by Washington, Idaho, Oregon and U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife agencies as well as WSU ag research, Soil Conservation Service and reporting by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Lewiston Morning Tribune.

To the public: you still need a solution to the problem of dams being temporary, and to the danger for everything and everybody in the flood zone. Or are you just going to leave it for the kids to deal with?

Al Johnson

Walla Walla

Police support appreciated

On Jan. 24 I participated in the event that has been completed every year at this time.

The march for the unborn, the silent ones, who cannot speak for themselves. The baby who might come to an end without even being thought of as real.

By silently walking from the Amazing Grace Nazarene Church to St. Patrick Catholic Church, we all participated for our beliefs. This year there were many who joined in and displayed their continued belief for the unborn.

As we walked toward our goal, we were escorted by two off-duty police officers. They were magnificent and were so gratefully appreciated.

We bash our Police Department at times, but I am here to say, I appreciate its dedication and service to our group. Just want to express appreciation to the police officers who helped keep us safe and went beyond their regular duties to give credit to our walking.

Don’t take the police officers for granted, they do step out to help in ways beyond their job duties.

R. T. Swanson

Walla Walla

Support urged for CP children

College Place voters you have received in the mail your chance to support the children of College Place public schools by voting yes for the up coming maintenance levy.

This is not a bond for our buildings but a replacement operations levy for the current one that will expire in December 2010.

This will help allow us to maintain a quality education for our children through special programs such as P.E., music, special education, home economics, sports, technology, transportation and etc.

I will be the first to say that in my many years working in the College Place School District that our children have really benefited from these programs. If this levy passes we will receive the levy equalization funds from the state and the opportunities for our students will excel.

As you vote, please remember that this levy is for school programs and operations — learning for our students of tomorrow. Please support your College Place children and vote yes.

Marcia Daschofsky

Walla Walla

Valley Transit helps needy citizens

I am writing to urge the citizens of our community to vote in favor of the ballot initiative for Valley Transit on Feb. 9.

As the executive director of Helpline, a local emergency social services agency, I see the constant need for regular and reliable public transportation for our citizenry.

The working poor, the disabled and the homeless especially rely upon Valley Transit for access to medical and social services along with employment and educational opportunities.

Our social issues would grow more acute without the vital service provided by our local bus system. Without it, the burden upon family and friends, if those supports were even available, would be strained and may even increase their own need for social services, further burdening our safety nets.

Through a recent grant from the First Fruits Fund, administered by the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, Helpline is able to help more of our most needy citizens with transportation through Valley Transit. This is a tremendous boost to this segment of our population. It would be a shame if Valley Transit reduced or eliminated its services just at a time when we can begin utilizing them to an even greater extent.

Vote Yes on Feb. 9!

Daniel Willms

executive director of Helpline

Walla Walla

Valley Transit provides independence

I would like to express my appreciation for the Valley Transit.

I depend on and use the bus or Dial-A-Ride almost daily. My life, employment and independence would be greatly affected without it. People do not realize how important public transportation is and means to individuals such as myself.

Walla Walla needs Valley Transit!

Maria Platner

College Place

For many, VT is their only transportation

As a rider of Valley Transit/Dial-A-Ride I would like to encourage everyone to vote for Valley Transit. Valley Transit is an invaluable resource to many in the Valley. For many people, Valley Transit is the only mode of transportation available.

For many riders, including me, Valley Transit gives them independence. They can go to work, shopping, basically anywhere they want to go for a very reasonable p rice. Because of the economy, Valley Transit might have to cut some of its routes.

That would make it very difficult for many of their riders. The ballot is proposing an increase of 3 cents for every $10 purchase. That is not too much to pay for independence. Please join me in voting yes for Valley Transit.

Ruth Johnson

College Place

Soup Kitchen reaches out to community

Have you heard about the new Soup Kitchen? Vineyard Free Methodist Church is having a weekly soup and bread lunch. Don’t forget the dessert! The Soup Kitchen is on Wednesdays at noon. It is for anyone who is hungry. The church is located at 343 S. Third Ave. in Walla Walla.

Many people have thoroughly enjoyed the Soup Kitchen since it began Jan. 20.

Why are we doing this you ask? Well, we truly believe that many people need a lunch to eat and sometimes, just a place to go get out of the weather. We hope that our Soup Kitchen can continue to grow so that we can reach out to people and help our community.

Katana M. Reser

Dixie

Vote for Walla Walla’s future

I just mailed in my vote for Valley Transit. I hope all of you will vote to support Valley Transit as well.

Valley Transit is not merely valuable to its riders, but to all the community. It contributes to exactly the kind of quality of life factors businesses look for when choosing a new site or for relocation.

It increases shopping and employment opportunities for many in the community.

A vote for Valley Transit is a vote for an economically healthy future for Walla Walla.

Edward Foy

Walla Walla

Generous donations appreciated

The Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank wishes to express its immense gratitude to the Walla Walla community for its faithful support throughout the year 2009. Because of your continuous and generous donations we were able to help many of those who needed extra help during this past year.

Your donations not only thoroughly filled our warehouse but they also filled the cupboards and the stomachs of those who did not have the means to do so.

This past year has not been the easiest economically but the Walla Walla community has not let this deter its generosity because this has been one of Walla Walla’s most abundant years.

The great bounty of donations in 2009 is best described in the 441,232 pounds that were given by the citizens of Walla Walla.

These immense contributions have in turn helped tens of thousands of individuals in the past year.

Your generosity has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated — the food bank and food pantries would not have had the ability to provide food for almost 800 families a month without your support.

We are so grateful for your thoughtfulness and kindness and we continue to rely upon it.

Gail McGhee

BMAC Food Bank

Walla Walla

Tax hike is a Valley Transit bailout

Is Valley Transit tax support good or bad? We must draw a line in the sand!

Fact: 800,000 riders of which 45 percent (360,000 divided by 180 school days equals 2,000) are school-bound people who pay $10 per month to ride Valley Transit. (This information is from the transit manager.)

If this is correct and our school system in Walla Walla (kindergarten through 12th grade) is about 6,000 kids, then one-third of school students ride Valley Transit.

Don’t we have school buses? If revenues have been cut by the voters from the 1999 I-695 vote and the federal government won’t give money (and Lord knows it gives money for everything) and revenues are falling because of recession, is this a good time to increase taxes?

Come on, even the federal government won’t give money and neither will the state, then this is just another bailout. Please vote no. Send a message: Live within your income!

Roger Corn

Walla Walla

Support excellent schools in CP

As a retired principal, I know that I am biased toward quality schools. In preparing students for their future, not our past, we need the entire village to work toward that goal.

I am currently working with teacher candidates from WSU, so I find myself observing in schools each week. I have been very lucky to be able to get to know Davis and Meadowbrook in College Place as excellent schools. They have strong leaders and dedicated staff members who spend every day providing a strong program for the children.

College Place School District is currently presenting to the voters a replacement levy that will help maintain current programs.

In hard economic times, it is especially important that we support the children. That is why I am writing to ask for the voters support for the College Place public schools levy.

Rick Nebeker

Walla Walla

Student would appreciate yes vote

I’m a fourth-grade student at Meadow Brook Intermediate School. The people in College Place are having a levy.

We are having a levy so we can pay for teens to go to Walla Walla High School. Also, so we can keep our gym teachers, music teachers and other teachers and staff. I would greatly appreciate it if people would help by voting yes.

Teisha Payne

College Place

Democrats have used filibuster

Regarding Bruce McCutcheon’s letter calling the GOP the party of "no."

I read his comments about this subject and I would like to respond as he says this financial meltdown was Bush’s fault. If the media would have done their job and reported this falsehood properly, he would have found the meltdown came from Clinton and the updated Community Reinvestment Act of 1999 where the government made banks make the risky loans to unqualified borrowers or face severe government sanctions.

Thus this is what Bush inherited and in 2001 tried to do something about the problem his administration saw coming but Sen. Dodd and Rep. Frank and the Democrats blocked any action.

At the time the Republicans had a majority of 58 votes in the Senate but the Democrats blocked the legislation that McCain sponsored in 2006 because you have to have 60 votes to block a filibuster. The Founding Fathers put this is place to keep any single party from ruling without a super majority.

Fox News with Brit Hume reported this on Sept. 24, 2008. I still have it on my computer so if anyone would like to see it call me and I would be glad to forward the complete report that the liberal media dropped the ball on and did not report.

Robert Jackson

Walla Walla

Yes, keep addresses out of obituaries

I agree with Zonia Dedloff who asked that you and mortuaries not print addresses in your obituaries. I remember years ago when our neighbor’s home was broken into while she was attending her husband’s funeral. Not printing addresses would help a bit in this regard.

C.L. Seachris

Touchet

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