Letters to the Editor Week 6

Bad century for conservatives

The publisher’s “Toughweek for progressives” editorial had me smiling. I’ll guess that weprogressives will be able to weather the loss of AirAmerica. After all, we’llstill have all that wonderful left-leaning propaganda on NPR. But I’m wonderingif it ever occurred to Bill Forhan that while we liberals might not have had agood week last week (although personally none of the things he mentioned are abig deal to me) conservatives have had a bad century, and an even worsemillennium.

In the past centuryconservatives opposed allowing women to vote, fought against civil rights,lambasted Darwin and his theory of evolution and tried to stop Medicaid,Medicare and Social Security. Further back in time, they believed in burningwitches at the stake, owning slaves, fought the science of Galileo andCopernicus and generally landed on the wrong side of just about every majordebate centered on science and advancing the social condition of mankind. So,unless I’m missing something somewhere, if you take a long view, conservativesaren’t exactly the team to bet on.

BTW, I loved the quote”Americans have demonstrated time and again that they are fully capable ofseparating truth from self-serving promoters.” That’s quite a gem coming fromsomeone that’s part of the family values, patriotic, law and order crowd, thatsimultaneously follows the every word of Rush Limbaugh, a guy with threedivorces, two instances of illegal drug possession, and a record of draftdodging the Vietnam War because of a boil on his butt! (Good try Bill!)

GregJames

Seattle

Hold commissioners accountable

It’s 2010 and time for ourcounty commissioners to pick up work on the Comprehensive Plan. It’s imperativethat we, the taxpayers, continue to hold them accountable for what goes intothis plan. In its current state, the Comp Plan repeatedly contradicts itself,blatantly disregards the Constitution, and holds our economic freedom hostage.

If someone came into yourhome and took your money at gunpoint, regardless if he was donating it to thechurch, he would be promptly arrested. For some reason when the governmentdecides to do the same, using legislation rather than a gun, we’re supposed toaccept it – that government “theft” is somehow acceptable and different. It’snot different. It’s stealing; it’s “legal plunder.” Economic freedom demandsthat you and I have a right to life and property and no one, not even theCounty, has the right to deprive you of either.

The Comprehensive Plancurrently undermines our economic freedom by taking more taxpayer money andthrough the devaluation of our property. I can’t tell you how many times I’venoted in the margins of my copy of the Comp Plan, “Who pays for this?”Taxpayers of course! Even a “grant” comes out of our pocketbooks at the end ofthe day.

Many of us in the countywill be hit hard in the devaluation of our property, depending on how one isaffected by the new zoning code. Ironically this hurts both property owner andCounty. The property owner loses money and the county loses property taxrevenue. Farmers and ranchers that require commercial loans to do business willsuddenly have their hands tied as their land suddenly loses much of its value.Herein lies the Comp Plan’s biggest contradiction: The document claims that itsmission is to protect agriculture when in actuality it undercuts it at theknees. Agriculture is our heritage, our future, and our economic lifeline inthis county. We need a Comprehensive Plan that protects our rights and trulysupports our agricultural base.

But don’t take my word forit. Every property owner, business owner, farmer, rancher – anyone that has apositive economic stakehold in this county needs to read the ComprehensivePlan. Give your feedback to the Commissioners. Demand to be heard. Yourprosperity depends on it.

PamLeslie

Tonasket

Share concerns for preservation

In reply to The Citizensfor a Sustainable Okanogan: The members of the Coalition For Property Rightsshare your concerns for preserving the natural environment of our beautifulcounty as well as seeing agriculture and other resource based industries thrive.We are people who have, and are trying to, continue to make our living here inthe Okanogan. We are very proud of our history, customs and culture and wish tosee them preserved.

Sustainability, as definedby Webster’s dictionary, is a concept we have practiced in our farming andranching methods for years. However, at the governmental level, from the U.N.on down it has taken on a meaning that greatly reduces human interaction withthe land. “Sustainability” is used to encourage settlement in urban areas andleave large areas of land with no human interaction. The Growth Management Actlegislation is aimed at meeting population and development control goals setforth in the U.N. Sustainability Treaty and other such documents.

Those who depend on theland for their livelihood have a vested interest in using resource managementpractices that provide for productive harvests for generations to come. Most ofus see subdividing our land as a last resort when increasing regulations andtaxes make it completely unfeasible to use it in agriculture. We would muchrather pass on productive agricultural enterprises to our children andgrandchildren.

The Okanogan used to havea number of thriving resource-based industries. We have watched them be closeddown one by one as increasing regulations and governmental controls made itincreasingly difficult to operate at a profit. Our lumber mill operated formany years, until environmental regulations curtailed the supply of timber,although trees do grow and there seem to be lots of them out in the forest. Ourcattle industry has been curtailed by NAFTA and concerns in leasing summergrazing land. The apple industry has suffered from increasing regulation andlow prices. It took over 20 years to get approval for a mine.

As these enterprises arethreatened, that is when the land starts growing houses. A thriving resourcebased economy is the best protection for open space, natural resources andrecreational opportunities. The CPR is concerned that the Okanogan continue tohave a thriving resource based economy, ample recreational and tourismopportunities, and be a place where people can earn a living wage and raisefamilies. Economies based on service based industries and tourism do not lendthemselves to providing for the financial needs of growing families.

Change and growth isinevitable, how we deal with it is crucial in determining what we can leave forfuture generations. We have witnessed, over the last 20 years, how increasinggovernmental regulation and control has crippled the economy of the county anddriven out productive industry. We believe that property owners, who have mustmake their living off the land, have the most vested interest in seeing that itis taken care of in the best manner possible to ensure continued harvests.<
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It is apparent that theCitizens for a Sustainable Okanogan feel that the government is betterqualified to tell us how to use our land. Of course, this is the samegovernment that has bought up large parcels of land and failed to curtail theencroachment of noxious weeds. The same government that, by refusing toauthorize timber sales, has allowed the pine beetle to destroy acres of forest.Now, if that area caught fire it would burn so hot and fast the ground would besterilized for years and thus prone to erosion.

We believe land owners arefar more qualified to make management decisions regarding their land. TheConstitutions of both Washington State and the United States guarantee that aperson will be secure in the right to the use of their property. It isreasonable to expect to be compensated when such use is deprived. Many of theitems in the proposed Comprehensive Plan serve to deprive the property owner ofthe use of their land with no compensation. This is unconstitutional.

We respect the input ofthe citizens at the various meetings and many of the members of the coalitionhave been attendance. However, it is clear, that no amount of debate or commentcan circumvent the Constitutions of either Washington State or the UnitedStates..

There are natural limitsupon the amount of development that will be possible in Okanogan County. Thesupply of water will serve to be a natural limit on the number of small lots,simply by availability outside of cities and towns. Many other natural factorsincluding difficulty of access, distances, etc. will limit developmentopportunities. Further, thriving resource based businesses will be adisincentive to subdivision.

Sincerely,

StacyStorm

Riverside

CPR does not speak for all

An Open Letter to the Coalitionfor Property Rights (CPR), Citizens of Okanogan County, and Appointed andElected County Officials

This is to inform you thatthere is a significant portion of the county population who agrees with neitherthe philosophy nor the tactics presently being exhibited by the members of theCoalition for Property Rights regarding the Okanogan County Comprehensive Plan.

We thank the countycommissioners and planning department for taking on the difficult task ofdeveloping a new Comprehensive Plan for Okanogan County. The comp plan processwas initiated to ostensibly head off potential growth problems that will arisewith new, unchecked growth in the county. This is the kind of unbridled growthand sprawl that many of us have seen destroy numerous small, friendly, quietfarm communities throughout much of the United States during the last ten ormore years. The movement by urban people to rural areas is driven by manyfactors, but a desire for a simpler, quiet, safe lifestyle is a leadingconsideration for most. Okanogan County is in no way immune to this growthpattern – it’s only been somewhat slower in happening here due to ourgeographical isolation and recently weakened economy. But that influx of urbanrefugees is coming, and when it does, our quiet, peaceful, secure and simplelifestyle will surely suffer greatly as a result. Our farmlands, ourenvironmentally sensitive lands, our water availability and quality, our cleanair, our open space – all are in jeopardy if we don’t pay for it now!

An Okanogan CountyComprehensive Plan is a tool, one that will allow county citizens to craft aplan that truly secures the dreams, desires, needs, and individual/socialresponsibilities of all our county citizens. We support a comp plan that:

&amp;#149; Defines and encouragessustainable growth

supports sustainableagriculture and wildlife habitat so that there is adequate food for all of thecounty’s human and wildlife population – now, and into the foreseeable future,and even in the event that there could be a major disruption of our normal foodsupply

&amp;#149; Defines and promotessustainable development of, and access to, public lands, free of noise andpollution

&amp;#149; Defines and protects themajor county watersheds and allows those areas to develop sub-area, selfdirecting capabilities that are consistent with the local residents chosen wayof life

&amp;#149; Prevents urban andsuburban sprawl through thoughtful, innovative planning processes, whichinclude continuous input from all of the varied interest groups withinindividual county towns and villages.

The CPR appears tocurrently be doing its best to derail the county comp plan process to form itinto its own image of individual property rights – at the cost of the rightsand values of many other individuals in the county. The CPR is headed by thosewho profit financially from extensive subdivision, small lot sizes, large-scaledevelopment and elimination of environmental protections. These folks haveremoved the community input that was already part of the early drafts of thecomp plan. Those whose philosophies exclude the public benefit as a legitimateconcern are doing their best to convince property owners that sensiblecommunity planning and regulations to control unbalanced, unsustainable growth,is not in their interest. They are trying to convince people that theirproperty rights trump individual, community and social responsibility andethical behavior – not to mention just plain good neighborliness. And these CPRleaders are doing this so they can make profits by chopping up as many piecesof productive agricultural and natural land as possible, while using the catchphrase “individual property rights.” As local farmers fail in the bad economyand progressively unpredictable weather, these people seeking fast profits areleading the charge to divide, subdivide and create sprawl – all to thedetriment of the quiet, peaceful, secure and simple life many of us havechosen.

And that is where we, alsopeople of Okanogan County, desperately disagree with the CPR. The CPR chose toignore the well-publicized neighborhood meetings for the Comp Plan, and nowwant to eliminate the two years of work by those citizens who cared enough toattend. But we do have our rights, our dreams, our needs, and our sense ofindividual, social and environmental responsibility. And we do not want thoserights and aspirations supplanted by the CPR’s own very undemocratic agenda.

We are also small businessowners, small organic and conventional farmers, teachers, nurses, doctors andeveryday citizens who insist on having an equal voice in the comprehensive planprocess. County Commissioners, please know that the CPR does not speak for allof us. To the extent that we can all find common ground in this contentiousplanning process, we welcome open dialogue and even third party arbitration ifnecessary to fairly settle our differences.

&amp;#160;We ask the elected officials of Okanogan County to take a standfor the dreams and hopes of the average citizen instead of the developmentinterests that have a history of destroying community values.<
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WithRegards and Concerns,

BuckOrndorff, Representative

Citizensfor a Sustainable Okanogan

They’ve got spirit, yes they do

This is to acknowledge thegirls that make up the Oroville Wrestling Cheer Squad for their dedication,spirit, work and commitment. This is not to overlook the sheer stay-to-it-nesswhen they were told they could not do it, or could not use it. The Cheer Squadsuffered in the funding cuts that the school district was going through. Thesegirls went to two school board meetings to ask to participate. They had a plan.They were also under informed as to the procedures at a school board meeting.The school board did say that if a parent supervisor was available it couldproceed. A parent volunteered at the meeting. The supervisor distributed somesurplus uniforms and they took them home to wash and try on. And they werescreaming at the top of their lungs, Go Hornets!

Then somebody told themthat they could not use the uniforms. What did these girls do? What the mostenterprising teenagers do, they went on the Internet. They found uniforms andfound that they could outfit the team for what amounted to about $50 a girl.Rah girls! They did much better than the professional who outfitted anothercheer squad for I think it was $3000. Rah Girls! This is an education moment.This is the point. This is where our students buy in, or they don’t. This iswhy we live here. It is a place where kids are safe and the focus is oncommunity and the focus of the community on you. Our students say it is likegoing to school with “your family.” They kept working to make it happen. Andthey were screaming at the top of their lungs, Go Hornets!

This weekend Oroville hadthe honor to host the District Wrestling Championship. Through dedication, hardwork and the knowledge that Oroville was center stage they gave it their all.When it came time to raise the champions’ arm…Oroville. And they were screamingat the top of their lungs, Go Hornets!

Thursday, before the meet,the girls were told they were not going to Regionals. They could not go toState. They had had a plan. They were putting it together. Who is it that willnot listen to those educational moments? These are the girls that would go to ameet and talk their way in as the Cheer Squad. Rah Girls! These are theathletes, scholar athletes with all the dreams that athletes hold. It is toreach for the top, to stand there for Oroville. They show their character inhow they deport themselves. They represented Oroville at this weekend’s eventand made our guests feel more than welcome, maybe “just like family.” Made it amemorable moment for our out of town guests. This is an educational moment. Honor,dedication and more spirit than it should be legal to contain. With all thedisappointment they might feel they had made a commitment. They gave it theirall. Their peers, their friends recognize who and what they are. They are them!They are Hornets! I am proud of them. Rah Girls!

And they were screaming atthe top of their lungs, Go Hornets!

JohnMarcille

Oroville

Satisfied with Rep. Kretz

I would like to comment on the comments made by a readerconcerning a statement made by Representative Joel Kretz.&amp;#160; Representative Kretz stated that “landpurchased by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taken off thetax rolls.”&amp;#160; No argument here from theletter writer or me. He then went on to infer that Representative Kretz washiding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes that the WDFW makes to the county.

The writer then pointed out that Rep. Kretz “couldn’t claimhe didn’t know about PILTs.”&amp;#160; I canassure you, he would never claim that he didn’t know something. I can alsoassure you that our Representative is much brighter that he looks.

The writer goes on to say that “Rep. Kretz may think thatthose lands are lost to development and the corresponding increase in the taxbase” and I must concur. I don’t see the WDFD ever turning any of the lands ithas amassed over for any kind of development.&amp;#160;The writer didn’t seem to deny that fact either. From the gist of hisletter, perhaps the real problem for the writer is that he wants the worldaround him to stay as it is.&amp;#160; Nodevelopment of any kind on “open space” and the more open space, thebetter.&amp;#160; I have no problem at all withlands set aside for wildlife and our descendants use, although I’m sure thatuse will be more and more restricted from actual human use.&amp;#160; The fact is, the population is growing. Themore people there are, the more space they need.&amp;#160; As for “the incessant drive of every municipality to increaseit’s tax base,” the tax base must be increased as more and more people moveinto the area, using more and more of those services that a municipality needsfor it’s citizens. The WDFD buys land in Okanogan County because it’s a wholelot cheaper than land in King and Pierce Counties. The very same reason moreand more people buy land here. So, unless you can convince people to move fromhere, instead of to here, we’re probably going to have to develop some moreopen space along with a bigger tax base.

The writer points out that the WDFW website states “they onlypurchase land from willing sellers.” I swear to you, I have some land onsomeone else’s property for sale. It’s open space and cheap. It’s got a bridgeon it too. Honest.

Lastly, I would like to make it clear that Rep. Kretz is nothiding from anybody, his contact numbers are printed in local papers regularlyand he’s in the phonebook for crying out loud! Actually, I kind of resent theimplication that he’s trying to put one over on us.&amp;#160; He has been a trusted and well respected member of our communitysince long before he went into public service.&amp;#160;

The fact is, when the government was trying to put one overon us with RMAPS, he went to Olympia and was instrumental in saving our privatelands. That’s when we decided to send him straight into the belly of the beast,to watch out for us and our interests. I’m satisfied with his performance andapparently the voters have been too. If anyone has any questions for Rep.Kretz, he has this other secret contact:&amp;#160;kretz.joel@leg.wa.gov

Thanks for the space,

Linda Maxwell

Wauconda

Can’t wait for health reform

Recently, researchers with the nonpartisan Urban Instituteand Robert Woods Johnson Foundation &amp;nbsp;used &amp;nbsp;a Health Insurance PolicySimulation Model to estimate how health insurance coverage and cost trends willlikely change between now and 2019. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is thenation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care.

The study is titled “The Cost of Failure to Enact HealthReform: Implications for States” http//www.rwjf.org/files/research/49148.pdf

The report shows that under the worst-case scenario, within10 years:

The number of people without insurance would increase by morethan 30 percent in 29 states. In every state, the number of uninsured wouldincrease
by at least 10 percent.

Businesses would see their premiums increase-more thandoubling in 27 states. Even in the best case scenario, employers in 46 stateswould see premiums increase by more than 60 percent.

Every state would see a smaller share of its populationgetting health care through their job. Half of the states would see the numberof people with ESI (what is ESI?) fall by more than 10 percent.

Every state would see spending for Medicaid/Children’s HealthInsurance Program (CHIP) rise by more than 75 percent.

The amount of uncompensated care in the health system wouldmore than double in 45 states.

The report is extensive, but most of the pages cover detailsof how each individual State would be affected.&amp;nbsp;I strongly encourage eventhose who have decided to be against this reform at least read the

Overview and the Conclusion to this report. It is hard toimagine how Washingtonians can wait any longer for reform.

I am fortunate to have health insurance, and do not want tosee my coverage dwindle away and my premiums increase. Those without insuranceneed to be able to obtain it, and without reform, their situation (and theirburden to the taxpayers and health care consumers) will only grow worse.

We need health care reform as soon as possible.&amp;nbsp;Nomatter what your political affiliation, please contact your members in congressand stress to them the importance of working on a reform bill that serves allAmericans.

Jean Pfeifer

Tonasket

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