Letters to the Editor -- October 28, 2004

Published on Thu, Oct 28, 2004
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
I am astounded at the amount of ink and paper your newspaper has devoted to the brazen attempt to foist Proposition 1 (the sales tax hike for a jail) on the citizens of this county. Do you have the character and professional ethics to publish a reasoned opinion to the contrary?
A sales tax increase will kick an already beleaguered local economy down another notch, leading to greater unemployment. Can this county afford that? I think not. The Whatcom County sheriff’s office (WCSO) is the largest money pit in Whatcom County. The WCSO needs to become much more accountable for the tax revenue it already receives.
Jailing people simply does not work as a deterrent to crime. The current rate of recidivism locally is around 75 percent. Jailing people clearly does not work. For a fraction of the cost of a new jail, existing alternative punishments – penalties that work to restore dignity to offenders and make restitution to society – can be expanded many times over.
Consider work release programs, electronic home monitoring, the privately-run jail and drug court. Not only do these options address the problems at the roots, they are paid for by the participants: there is virtually no cost to the community for them. They do a much better job of rehabilitating offenders and lessen the likelihood of repeat offenses. The current sheriff and local police chiefs are all in agreement on that.
Booking restrictions and early release of offenders is a transparent scare tactic. The truth of the matter is that virtually all offenders are released early, and always have been, due to WCSO rules (time off for good behavior, trustee participation, transfers, etc.) The WCSO office still has input in determining that only the worst of the worst remain incarcerated. Deputies also have a degree of latitude when someone is arrested as to whether or not that person is booked into the jail. The essence of the situation is that the deputies seem to want to impose “curbside justice” and unilaterally book people into jail at the time of their arrest, rather than let the accused be fairly tried and subsequently sentenced if found guilty. I wholeheartedly agree that there is not room in the jail for everyone arrested to be booked and held; the current jail was never intended to provide for that.
The current jail is barely 20 years old. It was built solidly and securely at that time (there has never been an escape from the secure area of the jail, except for clerical error). I cannot be convinced that it is on the verge of being condemned. This is another scare tactic.
Construction of a new jail somewhere out in the county would require a massive, new infrastructure to transport inmates to and from the courthouse every day. The current jail is attached to the courthouse and WCSO: convenient for everyone. Increased security concerns, traffic and ancillary costs make the proposal for a new jail untenable. Look for future propositions to pay for that aspect of a new jail, if this sales tax increase is passed.
Finally, a sales tax increase is a permanent hike. Long after you have stopped paying taxes, your children will be paying for this folly. The only way to stop it is to vote no on November 2. I urge you to do so.
A. Jinqstra
Blaine

The Editor:
I remember when the sales tax was three percent in this state, now it is 8.2 percent and our elected officials want to raise it to 9.3 percent. Your property tax is obscene and will go higher because of the crazy house prices. What is our state and county governments doing with all that money?
They are asking for 0.1 percent more, for a Taj Mahal jail. Let’s put the drunks, dope heads and petty criminals in a Stalag 17-type camp. We should learn something from Arizona, where sheriff Joe Arpaio has created a tent city jail surrounded by barbed wire. He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.
The one percent sales tax increase for education is another waste. The state is already eighth highest in the nation for funding education. The tax will raise one billion dollars per year, most of which will be wasted except for teacher salaries. They ask for smaller class sizes, but look at Japan with 40 plus students per class and their great results.
You see the high tax results of all these increases. They want more and more and will never stop. Only you can stop them!
Arne Cleveland
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Mac Setter has claimed Chuck Snyder doesn’t have jury trial experience and this makes Setter a better candidate. However, it should be stated that only 35 of the 1,700 felonies filed in the superior court of Whatcom County went to a jury trial last year. In 2003, there were only a total of 50 criminal and civil jury trials. Court administrator statistics show 60 percent of filings in Superior Court are for civil cases. Judges hear pleas, sentencings, motions and suppression hearings more often than jury trials.
I believe Setter’s years in the prosecutor’s office may have afforded him jury trial experience but we need a judge with a breadth of experience. Chuck Snyder has this breadth of experience and it is not true that he doesn’t have jury trial experience. He presided over jury trials in juvenile court, as a District Court commissioner and tried jury trials in Superior Court as a practicing attorney. Chuck brings more diverse experience to our courts and is the better choice for Superior Court Judge.
Donna M. Wells
Bellingham

The Editor:
John Hobberlin, candidate for 42 District State Legislature, has been in public service all of his adult life, first as a career officer in our military, then as a school administrator and finally as a mayor of Blaine for eight years. These experiences have forged a value system that treasures character, honesty and hard work. He has learned that strength is in the local communities.
He has set several priorities for Whatcom County. First is the strengthening of our local economy by keeping current businesses and jobs here and to attract new ones. He is determined to help eliminate the red tape policies that have caused businesses to close and discouraged new businesses to locate here. John’s opponent has proven, after 11 years in state government, that she does not have the answer to these problems. In fact, she has earned a failing grade from most business organizations in the state.
Secondly, John recognizes the need for medical malpractice reform. Frivolous lawsuits issued by some in the legal community continue to drive the cost of medical malpractice insurance to the point that physicians can no longer afford to stay in our communities. Kelli Linville, our current representative, has voted against allowing a medical malpractice bill out of the committee.
Finally, John supports increasing local control in our schools. He believes that teachers and parents should not have their hands tied by legislation and parents should have more control on how their children are educated.
John’s sterling personal and professional experience and reputation uniquely qualifies him to be our representative from the 42nd Legislative District.
Ron Leach
Blaine

The Editor:
Once again, I wish to express my pleasure in receiving The Northern Light each week.
I wonder if you could help me by publishing the following letter – it will get far better circulation than my trying to contact residents in my area.
To my Sunday Harbor, California Trail neighbors:
It is not necessary to take things from my property, such as a garden hose and the newspaper. If you need something, I’m happy to share, just ask.
If you have a character weakness, let me help you to try to overcome it. Just contact me.
James C. Tarantino
Blaine

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com