Our Readers' Views, Jan. 18

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State employees accepted less

The Columbian’s Jan. 10 editorial, “Fury in Olympia,” repeats a glaring falsehood being spread by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and unfortunately accepted unchallenged. State employee contracts have already been reopened to negotiate away more than $1 billion in pay raises, health benefits, pension contributions and jobs (some 3,200 layoffs already).

I know this to be true because in 2009, I was a member of the General Government Bargaining Team for some 30,000 members of the Washington Federation of State Employees. Bargaining was over and our negotiated contract was ratified by our members. We went back to the table because of the economic climate we are all facing and accepted a zero pay raise from July 2009 to June 2011. I saw the reality, so please don’t swallow the fantasies being spread by the likes of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and the Washington Policy Center.

State employees are hard-working and care about our fellow citizens. We continue to do more with less. All we ask for is a fair shake based on facts. It does get disheartening to read the continued attacks in my own local newspaper.

Steve McGillis

Vancouver

Green is the color of prosperity

Green jobs can be our ticket to greater prosperity; it makes no difference if global warming is true or false, the perception is real and the technology and manufacturing of products to combat it will produce jobs. We need to become a leader, not a follower, in technology and manufacturing.

Currently, we lag in manufacturing and development of green products: we buy our wind turbines from Europe, and solar panels from China and India. All the while, we are purchasing oil from the Middle East, which is causing the greatest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen.

I hope Brian Baird’s replacement as our U.S. House representative understands this, who ever it is.

Dale McLain

Vancouver

Start cleaning up our atmosphere

In September, the Southwest (Washington) Clean Air Agency in Vancouver issued a license to the Centralia coal-fired plant owned by Canadian firm TransAlta for five more years of operation. That permit ignored mercury and carbon dioxide emissions. Mercury is toxic to humans and carbon dioxide is the most significant contributor to climate change. That’s two compounds dangerous to our health.

Not only that, but TransAlta has been meeting with state officials behind closed doors to hammer out the details of their forthcoming air permit. Why the secrecy? Why aren’t these negotiations involving public health going on out in the open? That could be why environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association hired law firm Earthjustice to sue the clean air agency in Vancouver.

It is an egregious oversight to issue an air permit to TransAlta that doesn’t deal with mercury and carbon dioxide. The company may tell you they are exempt from such regulation, but why should they be? Mercury kills and coal plants are the worst contributors to global warming. We’ve got to start with coal plants in cleaning up our atmosphere.

Roger Cole

Vancouver

‘Avatar’ ideology debate is ridiculous

Referencing the Jan. 10 story from the Los Angeles Times, “Ideology blinds many conservatives to sheer artistry of Avatar.” I’m really not sure where to start as the writer’s whole point is ludicrous. The title alone should upset all readers.

The tone of the story is one of the reasons that the left-leaning news media are in such big trouble for readers and listeners. Reporter Peter Goldstein lists such stinker movies as “Brokeback Mountain,” “W”, “Milk,” “Religulous” and other box office flops as the fault of conservatives because they stayed away due to the liberal message. They stayed away not only because of the absurd message, but because they were lousy movies. Trust me, liberals stayed away from these also.

To compare the incredible movie “Avatar” with these losers is the ultimate in fantasies from the left. “Avatar” does have a message, and who in their right mind could stand back and see the amazing forest mowed down by the mining equipment, or the evil military contractors take down the native population? To suggest that the liberals would protect this environment and the conservatives would condone the destruction is ridiculous.

Even though there is a great divide between the two parties, let’s keep a little common sense in the debate.

Eric Anderson

Brush Prairie

Legal conduct required to earn right

A Jan. 6 story reported, “Judges say let state’s imprisoned felons vote.” Liberty — to man it is the second most important concept next to life itself. Contrary to our holy Constitution, neither is as inalienable as this document purports. Criminals who find themselves without the former and those silenced when we took from them the latter will or would attest to this. Nothing is more primary than life or liberty, and yet, without the right to either, prisoners would get the right to vote.

There is something wrong in sequencing priorities in our legal system. If greater rights are taken, lesser ones should long before them not be within reach of those who have disqualified themselves from living among well-behaved society. Proper, legal, civil conduct is the price we pay for life and liberty. If someone who has harmed another is declared unfit for either, how can it be justified that they should have the right to vote? When a pedantic judge no longer recognizes common sense? Who didn’t know the answer to that question?

Michael E. White

Brush Prairie

Deals for votes are simply wrong

Many citizens agree that our health care system is broken and we are all watching our elected representatives work through the process of creating a health care bill. Part of the reason the Senate bill is 2,074 pages long is the special deals for individual states that their senators negotiated.

The health care bill would benefit all Americans, so is the reason for offering something extra for a specific state an exchange for the vote of that senator? This is what is completely wrong with our political system and ultimately it will prevent a good bill from getting passed. How typical, that all Democrats vote for it and all Republicans against.

Americans need to stand up and demand that politicians stop playing their traditional games and take care of real problems. Congress acts more like the Crips and Bloods gangs, with expensive suits being their gang attire. They need to care more about what their constituents’ needs, rather than what their “gang” party members expect.

Pamela Goe

Vancouver