Letters to the Editor March 18 - 24, 2010

Published on Wed, Mar 17, 2010
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The Editor:
I just wanted to thank you again for the great article about the Food Pantry in last week’s issue of The Northern Light. It has brought many phone calls offering to do food drives by various groups, food donations and donations of money. That was a huge help to us and we appreciate your excellent article.
Lynne Chapman
Birch Bay Food Pantry

The Editor:
As our good friends to the north were debating the pros and cons of universal coverage in 1964, Canadian Supreme Court Justice Emmet Hall, a pro-business conservative, in his health report to the nation declared “that economic growth is not the sole aim of our society. The value of a human life must be decided without regard to economic considerations. We must take into account the human and spiritual aspects involved.” And then the Canadians did the absolutely right thing.
The fact of the matter is that Canada has demonstrated better health outcomes than the U.S. for approximately half the cost. The U.S. spends 17 percent of gross domestic product on health care whereas Canada’s total is approximately 8 percent. What do we get for our heavy investment? In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. as 37th in aggregate health outcomes. Canada ranked 30th and Cuba was 39th. France was number one.
It is true we do some brilliant things. We pioneer breakthrough procedures. Dignitaries from all over the world come to our clinics. However, our poor outcomes are understandable, if you include all citizens in every denominator in the calculations.
All other rich, developed countries provide high quality, universal care, while spending much less than the U.S. We have many strengths as a nation but providing comprehensive health care is certainly not one of them. If you are skeptical of what I am saying, I understand. But take the time to look up the facts. I think you will be surprised and humbled.
There is a Chinese saying: “To find your way in the fog, follow the tracks of the oxcart ahead of you.”
We can learn from others. We have a moral imperative to do so.
Wayne Weinschenk
Blaine

The Editor:
The intent of the Three Strikes Law was to incarcerate the worst of the worst violent criminals. Of approximately 282 now incarcerated for life, some 200 were convicted of second degree offenses.
Robbery 2 does not involve any weapons and does not result in any injuries. Assault 2 can be a simple bar room brawl. Granted, these are crimes and must be punished, but they are not the most serious offenses and these people are not the worst violent criminals. Do they deserve life in prison? No, and the argument here is against the sentence of forever.
The law should be repealed or at least modified, especially in light of the extreme budget crisis that is cutting back our essential services. Millions of dollars are being diverted from public safety into warehousing people who are not violent.
Tom McBride of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has stated that they are applying this law in a more rational manner in recent years. Plea bargains are allowing three strikers to be charged with offenses other than those considered strikes. Dan Satterberg, King County prosecutor, has even gone so far as to investigate injustices in earlier cases. The professionalism of prosecutors applying the law more fairly and being willing to address past injustices is commendable. Leaving this law to remain is not. For more information, visit www.fix3strikes.org and www.justiceisnogame.org.
Shirley White
Port Townsend

Editor:
During our Vancouver winter Olympics I met a middle-aged couple from Birch Bay watching the Canada/Russia hockey game. They were very gracious and friendly. They were leaving the game early to get home for the third period when I thanked them for letting us sit with them. I also sincerely wished them luck getting healthcare reform passed. Well you would have thought I had hit them both. They were against healthcare, Obama and taxes.
The reason I am writing is because none of their objections held water. When questioned, they had no logical or accurate facts to really object to healthcare other than Republican talking points. They had healthcare which they were both very happy with and by general American standards it seemed very reasonable, $300 a month though I would like to know the deductible.
They would not lose their healthcare under Obama’s plan but they didn’t seem to understand that. He said Canadians pay higher taxes than Americans but for that we get healthcare. They didn’t understand  that Americans pay it indirectly through the vast number of people uninsured going to emergency rooms.
His $300 a month is a tax, only to a private for profit corporation. An extra $3,600 a year. Americans so easily feel threatened by taxes without understanding the consequences of not paying enough. Ask Californians what they think of teacher, police and fire department layoffs, Utah’s four day school week. The war in Iraq or George Bush’s tax cuts for the rich could have insured everyone in America without a tax increase. Unlike America the number one cause of bankruptcy in Canada is not medical expenses. It is unconscionable to think that could happen in Canada, it never occurs to us that such a fate could befall us.
For a country so generous around the world in matters of crisis it saddens me to think that Americans can be so callous to their uninsured fellow citizens without so much as a serious thought.
Barron McConnachie
Vancouver B.C.

The Editor:
‘Tis the time of year when lads and lasses are raising their mugs in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Before you throw back that pint, you should know that most beers contain some less than festive ingredients, including isinglass (swim bladders from fish), gelatin (made from bones, skin, and ligaments), and albumin (derived from dried blood). But have no fear – you can still have your green beer with these top four vegan brews:
1. Samuel Adams Cream Stout. Guinness contains isinglass, so if you’re looking for something similar without any fishy additives, pour yourself a frosty glass of this deliciously dark and full-bodied beer.
2. Sierra Nevada Porter. If a porter is in order, you can’t go wrong with this smooth and malty medium-bodied brew.
3. Pete’s Wicked Ale. From the ruby-brown regular to the lemony Rally Cap, to the rich and creamy Wanderlust Cream, Pete’s has three wicked-good wicked ales to choose from.
4. Brooklyn Brewery Lager. Want to take your taste buds for a walk on the lighter side? This crisp and refreshing award-winning amber lager will have you “reeling” in no time.
Nothing complements a great brew more than great grub. For more on animal-friendly eats and drinks, including vegan versions of Irish favorites such as “corned beef” and cabbage, please visit www.VegCooking.com.
Amy Skylark Elizabeth
People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Norfolk, VA

The Editor:
I am totally in agreement with Mr. White and the total disregard of the people’s wishes. Those people being better known as the taxpayers, from whose pockets all of the monies come, whether it be to fix/build federal or local projects. The editor’s note seems to indicate that the DOT funds were not from the taxpayers.
I have a question for those that are employed to oversee the city of Blaine (at taxpayers expense I might add) from where do you derive your arrogance?
Shirley Reed
Birch Bay
(Editor’s Note: Last week’s note did not imply that the money did not come from local taxpayers. Presumably, most of our readers understand that the federal government is funded by the American taxpayer, including those who live in Blaine. The editor’s note was intended to correct Mr. White’s incorrect assertion that the city of Blaine and its taxpayers were responsible for the DOT’s decision and the funding to spend $7.2 million on construction.)

The Editor:
Few events represent a cornerstone of identity in a community like the Old Fashioned 4th of July celebration does in Blaine. From the parade, to the car show, to live music, to the street fair, to the culminating fireworks display, our community has a well deserved reputation for stepping up to the plate and pulling off an extraordinary experience for all involved.
As in past years, revenue generated from the “Bite Of Blaine” remains a key funding source for 4th of July festivities and specifically the fireworks display. The 2010 “Bite Of Blaine” was a great success. The chamber board would like to thank both the vendors and the guests for their contributions to this very important evening.
At this time, we anticipate that other contributions typically received in support of the fireworks display may this year be more limited.
The chamber board is hoping that once again in 2010 we can all help to make up the anticipated revenue gap by contributing through the donation containers that you will soon see set up around the community. A small contribution from many will help meet the necessary revenue targets.
Thank you in advance for your support. We are looking forward to a very exciting day of celebration in our community!
Ron Spanjer, president
Blaine Chamber of Commerce

The Editor:
Firstly, I would like to thank the many responses which our group, Business United, received from property and business owners, as well as citizens of Blaine, indicating their disapproval of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on construction of the two roundabouts in Blaine. One of the most compelling arguments, which has not been addressed to date by WSDOT, is the lack of safety afforded to elderly and handicapped pedestrians who, at present find it relatively safe and easy to negotiate their way through the intersections of Peace Portal and Marine drives and D and Second streets.
WSDOT spokesman, Dustin Terpening, in an article of The Northern Light last week, declared that the roundabouts do not qualify for “Push to Walk” signs, based on need! This is completely untrue. WSDOT is supposed to consider our comprehensive plan by RCW 47.52, because this is a “walking district with both elderly and handicap use.” We do, in fact, qualify based on our comprehensive plan. In addition, there is no compelling need to build the roundabouts now, so that using our current foot traffic as a comparison is not consistent with WSDOT’s case for proving issues necessary to build the roundabouts.
Additionally, Chris Damitio, WSDOT’s chief project engineer, has stated in his most recent email to all stakeholders that construction at night is planned for two days this month.
Council approved night work for April and May, not March. This is another promise broken to our community and is, in fact, breaking the law.
Dale Schrader
Blaine

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