Letters to the Editor, May 4, 2017

School Board position open

Dear Editor,

I wish to inform your readers that my position for school director is open for the coming election. I recently moved, and sadly, my new house is across the street from my director district, District 2. State law does not allow me to fill out my remaining term and requires that the position go up for election in November. With the filing period being the week of May 15-19, interested parties must act quickly.

Anyone who believes, as do all current directors, that together we hold both the responsibility and privilege of assuring student learning and supporting those who are responsible for that learning, then becoming a director is an excellent way to serve this community. There is information available on both the state school directors website (wssda.org) and on the Tonasket School District website (tonasket.wednet.edu) about the responsibilities of a school director. The position requires a minimum of two meetings per month, plus a significant time commitment to become educated about the needs of schools and students. Most directors average 4-8 hours per week. The job is not to run the schools, but to govern them. What this means is first and foremost assuring that the district has an effective superintendent to manage all the day to day operations of the district. Secondly, it is the board’s responsibility to study together to determine an appropriate vision for the district for a 3-5 year period. Thirdly, the following standards are expected to be met:

Responsible school district governance

Communication of and commitment to high expectations for student learning

Creating conditions district-wide for student and staff success

Holding the district accountable for student learning

Engagement of the community in education

I have learned and grown over my 14 years as a director. Some of the duties have been difficult or challenging, though most have been rewarding and enriching. I am happy to discuss the position with anyone interested. The district website contains a map that shows the boundaries of Director District 2 as well as our Director Handbook which defines how the board operates. With school boards being an important aspect of la democratic and local government, I hope to see many people running for both my position and open positions throughout the county.

I encourage your consideration of this important position.


Catherine Stangland

Tonasket School Board, District 2


Need participation and support

Dear Editor,

One bright spot in an otherwise troubling political scenario is the significant change in Okanogan County governance made by our two new County Commissioners, Branch and Hover, during their first four months in office. Now that they are elected, they need citizen participation and support.

Improvements and involvement opportunities include: On Thursdays at 8AM on KOMW, Branch and Hover address important county issues. A Methow broadcast may soon be available. Citizen comment opportunities are scheduled most Tuesday afternoons, and the Commissioners have been open to explanations and problem-solving ideas with citizens in attendance. (Unfortunately, participation has been sparse.) The process for choosing our County’s newspaper of record is being clarified and revised as you read. County officials may now speak directly with employees rather than going through an expensive Yakima attorney. Commissioners are looking more closely at proposed road vacations. Microphones are used more regularly and minutes of meetings more explanatory, appearing more promptly on the County website. The Board has arranged funding for work on Juvenile facilities for voter approval, hopefully keeping juvenile offenders closer to home and appropriate rehabilitation.

We have finally elected a Commissioner who is both professionally trained and experienced in land use planning and relevant laws. Branch misses few chances to reiterate why thoughtful and legally defensible land use planning is so important to our future and financial well-being. From January, 2015 through March of 2017 alone, fees for Sandy Mackie to facilitate and defend previous poor county land use choices were between $217,495 and $216,746 (not including costs nor salaries for employees, which are significant in the Planning Department.) But these Commissioners have wisely committed to another look at the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance, actually settling with one litigant.

The County has an enormous uphill financial challenge due to lack of progress at the national level, previous County decisions, and changing weather. Do your part to stay informed and communicate! Encourage further needed improvements, such as citizen advisory committees that are transparent and fairly represent all areas of the county.

Sincerely yours,

Isabelle Spohn



Stay informed about county

Dear Editor,

Thank you, Commissioner Branch and Okanogan citizens! More than 60 engaged county residents attended the April 23 Community Outreach Meeting in Okanogan to hear Commissioner Chris Branch speak about Okanogan County. For almost an hour the Commissioner spoke about current and future issues before the county, and the importance of being involved in good governance. He also answered audience questions.

Afterwards, attendees brainstormed ways to be informed that included attending commissioner meetings, researching county issues, increasing voter registration, encouraging citizen participation in local government and assessing and publicizing important county-wide matters that do or will impact us all. Participants from the entire county and both political parties were respectful and provided good ideas.

This and subsequent community outreach meetings are being sponsored by Represent Okanogan County (ROC), a nonpartisan nonprofit whose mission is to advance the transparency, responsiveness and accountability of Okanogan County’s elected leadership. This fall meetings are planned for Tonasket and Twisp, so check your local newspapers. Learn more

about how you can shape and impact your county’s future.

Thank you to all who participated,

Sharon Sumpter

ROC President


Examine Trump’s taxes

Dear Editor,

Congressman Dave Reichert’s excuses are old, tiresome and misleading.

He said, “If Congress begins to use its powers to rummage around in the tax returns of the President, what prevents Congress from doing the same to average Americans?”

Stop trying to scare us. My tax privacy is protected by law. The 1924 law Congress passed applies to individuals in the Executive branch, not private individuals, and it allows three different congressional committees – not the public – to look into a private tax return if there is suspicion of conflicts of interest in the executive branch. Well, there is suspicion of conflict of interest in the executive branch.

I am tired of the lame excuse about Congress not having the right or Congress overstepping its bounds. Congress has the right. They made a law to have the right. Now use it. It is time to stop protecting the most unfit excuse of a president who ever got the job without getting the popular vote. We are watching you, sir. Watching you, talking about you, and spreading the word. All about you…

I sure wish congress protected me the way you protect Trump.

Michelle Straka

North Bend


Pipeline is a threat

Dear Editor,

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is a huge threat to our environment; a spill of toxic bitumen oil from the proposed Kinder-Morgan pipeline is a huge risk for the health and safety of thousands of people and wildlife.

This pipeline is a real threat to the Reconciliation with First nations People who are opposed to this dangerous pipeline. The government of Canada and our provincial government are determined to push this through, ignoring the concerns of First Nations and British Columbians who care about our beautiful province and the flora and fauna that grace this land. We must seek alternative ways for renewable energy.

On May 9 we can make our voices heard!

Katie Di Iuorio

Oliver, B.C.