Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Keep Moscow out of Whitman County"

A letter to the editor in today's Daily News from our very own April Coggins:
Doug Bauer’s editorial (Opinion, Sept. 23) about the upcoming water summit has me pondering a few things. If Whitman County decides not to participate, will the city of Moscow gain authority by default over Whitman County? If Moscow declares the sky is falling, must the other government entities of the Palouse be required to operate under the premise that the sky is falling?

Moscow has a curious way of negotiating with its regional Palouse neighbors. First, Moscow tries to sue Whitman County into submission, then they threaten to withhold cooperation for emergency services and now they demand cooperation in their “water crisis.” As a Whitman County resident, I resent this intrusion and would like to remind Moscow’s interlopers they have no authority to make decisions on my behalf. I do not agree with Moscow’s NewCities recommendation to “make the state line disappear.”

If Moscow objects to Whitman County retail development being built so close to Moscow retail development, maybe Moscow shouldn’t have built all the way up to the Whitman County border.

How hypocritically rich that Moscow’s environmental concerns for Paradise Creek don’t seem to start until the creek is on the Washington side. Apparently, Moscow sees no problem with stormwater runoff from their large retail parking lots, University of Idaho livestock pens and dumping from their sewage treatment plant flowing into Paradise Creek and ultimately into Whitman County. Moscow’s stormwater objection is that possible run off from the Hawkins Companies development will flow into Paradise Creek, except that any run off will be on the Whitman County side of the border, flowing directly away from Moscow.

Moscow’s objections to odor, light and traffic due to the Hawkins Companies development are just as hypocritical, but I will leave that for another time.

April E. Coggins, Pullman
'Nuff said!

Voting as IQ Test

A letter to the editor in today's Daily News:
Mail-in ballots mar election

What has happened in the Whitman County auditor’s office? The primary mail-in ballot was confusing enough without the conflicting instructions and incorrect ballots in the envelopes.

The instructions in one place said “use black or blue pen” but in another said only a No. 2 pencil will be correct. The auditor nonchalantly said, “well, voters who were confused could call the auditor’s office.” Does she have the staff to answer all those calls? Is she willing to pick up the long-distance call charge when the caller is put on hold for minutes?

By the way, doesn’t the auditor’s office have an 800 number?

If that weren’t bad enough, many voters received either the wrong ballots or only two of the three party ballots. To add insult to injury the e-mail address was incorrect.

How much inefficiency do Whitman County voters have to endure? Perhaps it’s time to vote for a change. Nathan Horter is computer literate, extremely efficient and abounding in intelligence. The general election is just weeks away. Keep his name in mind when you mark your ballot, in this election on Nov. 7.

Reed Hanson, Pullman
If Democrats can't figure out simple instructions on a ballot, no wonder they keep losing local elections. I think Democrats should be instructed to use invisible ink when filling out the ballot.

There are two things that are not Eunice Coker's fault:

1. The fact that is is long distance to call Colfax from Pullman. Bitch at the phone company. Name me one other county office that has an 800 number.
2. The fact that Whitman County switched to vote-by-mail. The Whitman County commissioners decided that, after the Democratic-controlled state legislature made it easier to do so and 30 or so other Washington counties had made the switch. Eunice is merely implementing their policy.

It's no wonder they wanted to switch to all-mail voting. Most Pullman precincts had already become vote-by-mail anyway. It's not worth having a polling place manned. I saw the returns from the latest primary on September 19. Precinct 132 in Pullman, which includes the Stephenson complex, Yakama Village, the Coffehouse Apartments, and a lot of the other student housing around the main entrance to WSU, returned NO ballots. That's why the Whitman County elections website only shows 55 of 56 precincts reporting.

We hear all these reports of wrong ballots. Where's the proof? And what does being "computer literate" have to do with anything? The auditor MANAGES the Elections Department, she doesn't set-up the e-mail addresses or write code. I'll take Eunice's 4 years of elections management experience over some green Napoleon Dynamite wannabe.

How many unwarranted, vicious partisan attacks do Whitman County voters have to endure?

"PARD disappointed in revised Wal-Mart ruling"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Hearing Examiner John Montgomery will revise his decision in the Wal-Mart appeal a second time to correct errors in the draft filed Sept. 20.

The decision expands Montgomery’s earlier ruling upholding the city’s approval of Wal-Mart’s site plan and environmental checklist, and denying the appeals by the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development.

“Mr. Montgomery’s decision is pretty much what we expected in terms of conclusions,” PARD spokesman T.V. Reed said in a prepared statement issued Thursday. “It is very rare for a hearing examiner to have the courage to strongly reverse himself in a remand.”

Montgomery’s revised decision received praise from Business and Residents for Economic Opportunity, a local organization that supports Wal-Mart’s plans for Pullman.

“We are very pleased that Mr. Montgomery again reached a fair and factual decision regarding the Wal-Mart Supercenter projects,” BREO co-founder Tom Forbes said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday.

PARD filed its appeals in an attempt to block Wal-Mart from building a 223,000-square-foot store on Bishop Boulevard. The group argued the store would have significant effects on traffic, the environment and the local economy.

Wal-Mart announced in October 2004 it wanted to build a super center that would include a discount department store, grocery store, pharmacy, garden center and tire shop under one roof.

At an appeal hearing in June, Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier ordered Montgomery to shore up his previous decision with additional findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Attorneys for PARD, Wal-Mart and the city of Pullman submitted draft findings and conclusions to Montgomery to help him with his task. PARD’s conclusions would have had Montgomery changing his decision to find in its favor, said Pullman City Attorney Laura McAloon.

In her opinion, Frazier’s ruling didn’t give Montgomery the option to change his earlier decision.

“It was not a remand order,” McAloon said. “It was an order to clarify and (Frazier) would then go forward with a review. He didn’t even begin the process of reviewing the decision and considering the parties’ legal arguments because there were clarifications he needed before he could begin that process.”

Although Montgomery incorporated some of the material submitted by PARD, he stuck with his earlier decision denying the group’s appeals.

Reed expressed concern the latest revision will delay the case even more.

The case is scheduled for a second appeal hearing at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 18.

The errors were mostly typographical and formatting mistakes, McAloon said. She doesn’t anticipate the Oct. 18 hearing being rescheduled.

There was one factual error McAloon noticed — in Montgomery’s conclusion, he mentioned Wal-Mart’s application had been denied by the city. The application was approved. That was the action that gave rise to PARD’s appeal.

Frazier gave the parties involved in the appeal the option to file response briefs to Montgomery’s decision if he raised any new issues that hadn’t previously been addressed.

McAloon sees no reason for the city to file a response brief, she said.

The attorney for Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment.
Of course, PARD is disappointed. They had better get used to being disapopointed. And as usual, PARD launches vicious personal attacks on anyone who doesn't agree with them. In this case, calling John Montgomery a coward.

"Reed expressed concern the latest revision will delay the case even more?" That's rich!!!! His group's appeals are what have caused all the delays, not the revisions. PARD could end the delays immeditately by dropping their frivilous appeals.

Technorati Tags:

Quote of the Day

“As long as it includes public input there are a lot of conditions. Many conditions are arbitrary and there is no predictability."
- Larry Hodge, of Hodge and Associates, as quoted in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News from yesterday's Greater Moscow Alliance luncheon on the develpoment process in Moscow. Hodge advises clients to try to avoid projects that require conditional use permits and planned unit development applications, because “you have no idea what you are getting into.”

Politics Over Human Life?

The Daily Evergreen has lent much attention to the terrors occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa. I have been noting the reports with a lot of interest and feel strongly for the poor people that have been affected by this. It’s a human tragedy that I hate to hear about, that anybody would hate to hear about. Yet many, like the WSU Progressive Students Union and Social Responsibility, have treated it as a political or social issue. They imply that the U.S. is somehow required to get involved not just for humanitarian reasons, but for political reasons as well.

I do believe that the participants in the Glenn Terrell Mall demonstrations are genuinely concerned on a human level. I don’t doubt their motives. I do, however, see far too much hypocrisy in how they chose their victims. These campus groups are overwhelmingly liberal, and have strongly and publicly chastised President Bush for his views on Iraq.

Before the toppling of Saddam’s regime, Iraq was in much the same situation as Sudan is now. Certain people were routinely singled out because of religion or politics and tortured, murdered, or all-out exterminated. For many years the Clinton Administration and the United Nations turned a blind eye. But when the United States invades Iraq shortly after 9/11, the human factor is brushed aside or hidden entirely. Now, many Iraqis no longer have to worry about being arrested by an oppressive government and fed into wood chippers (feet-first), and all we hear from the liberal left is that “Bush lied [about WMDs], thousands died.” Never mind the fact that—surprise, surprise—they actually found some. And if not for WMDs, then it must be about oil, right? If that were true why, after more than four years, am I still paying almost $3.00 per gallon of gasoline?

It is war and war alone, I fear, that will inspire any change in Darfur. The Sudanese government has made it clear that they don’t care what the UN has to say. Some may believe that words can solve this. I know that hatred as deeply rooted in history and society as that in Sudan will not be driven out by words. War is hell, and many young soldiers will undoubtedly die to liberate these victims in Sudan should we become involved. Our soldiers will do it without question or complaint. That is what a soldier does: They sacrifice their lives for strangers, be they countrymen or foreign allies.

My question is this: Why should a soldier’s life lost in Sudan be worth any more than a soldier’s life lost in Iraq? Why is it worth it to lose so much to liberate Darfur, and not to liberate 25 million Iraqis? By all outward appearances, this is exactly what many are advocating. They believe that intervention in Darfur is justified while “Bush’s war” is groundless and ill-inspired, even though their ends are essentially the same. It is unfortunate that the value of human life can be determined by which political party is advocating it.

"Pullman Approves Wal-Mart Supercenter Project"

Below is a news story that ran on KLEW TV in Lewiston. The video can be viewed here. You can see why if we ever start a talk show, Josh Coke is going to be the host.
Wal-Mart gets another thumbs-up to build a Supercenter in Pullman. Wednesday, City Hearing Examiner John Montgomery approved the project on Bishop Boulevard.

Representatives from Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity, or BREO, had a positive reaction. BREO co-founder Tom Forbes said he's relieved with the outcome.

"Obviously, we're pleased with his decision to once again approve the Supercenter," said Forbes. "We feel vindicated that several points that we've been trying to make as an organization were brought out this time by the hearing examiner's revised decision."

BREO Vice Chairman Joshua Coke said the decision for Wal-Mart to be able to develop in Pullman has more to do with land rights than politics.

"The largest reason is that we shouldn't be treating them any differently than any other retailer that comes into Pullman," said Coke. "They're willing to make an investment in this community and they've followed all of the proper legal procedures to do so. And, as the hearing examiner pointed out, it's more of a land use issue, and they've gone through all the proper hoops, and they should be allowed to build as they see fit. And, it fits with the city's comprehensive plan."

Coke also said a Wal-Mart Supercenter may bring Pullman the economic boost that Moscow has seen since the opening of the Palouse Mall.

"The Johnson Gardner impact study that was commissioned by Wal-Mart showed that we had somewhere in the neighborhood of $76 million being spent outside of Pullman that could be captured by Pullman markets if we had the retail base to support it," Coke said. "We believe that Wal-Mart coming in will be one of the first steps to make that a viable possibility."

The Pullman Alliance for Responsibility, or PARD was unavailable for comment. However, in a press release issued by the organization, Spokesperson T.V. Reed said, "Mr. Montgomery's decision is pretty much what we expected in terms of its conclusions. It is very rare for a Hearing Examiner to have the courage to strongly reverse himself in remand. What is surprising and disturbing is that the ruling was filed late, despite several more months granted to the Examiner to work on it, and was so full of basic errors that the Pullman City Attorney has asked Montgomery to make corrections and issue yet another revision."

The examiner's decision doesn't immediately "green light" construction of the Supercenter. On October 18, Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier will hear PARD's appeal and announce his conclusion as to whether or not the Hearing Examiner's decision is adequate.
Technorati Tags:

"Pullman plans for Supercenter"

This is a story in today's University of Idaho Argonaut:
After a failed attempt to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Moscow and appeals on a site in Pullman, it appears the retail giant will finally leave its one-stop-shopping mark on the Palouse.

City hearing examiner John Montgomery has approved the Wal-Mart Supercenter, which is planned for 28 acres off Bishop Boulevard in Pullman, according to a press release sent out Wednesday. The decision denied site plan appeals made by the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development.

“We are very pleased that Mr. Montgomery again reached a fair and factual decision regarding the Wal-Mart Supercenter projects,” said Tom Forbes, co-founder of Businesses & Residents for Economic Opportunity.
“Mr. Montgomery’s decision is pretty much what we expected in terms of its conclusions,” stated T.V. Reed, spokesman for the Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development, in a press release from PARD. “It is very rare for a hearing examiner to have the courage to strongly reverse himself in a remand.”

Reed said in his statement that he was disturbed that the ruling was filed late and was “so full of basic errors that the Pullman city attorney has asked Montgomery to make corrections and issue yet another revision,” which may lead to further delays in the next appeals hearing.

The Wal-Mart proposal in Pullman has had an easier road to travel than the one in Moscow from the very beginning, Forbes said. The proposed Moscow Supercenter required the rezoning of 77 acres of farmland, as well as overcoming the emergency “big-box” ordinance, an ordinance intended to keep Wal-Mart and other large chain retailers out of the community enacted by the City Council in August 2005. After almost a year of attempting to get a Moscow store approved, the city council denied the rezone request of the land last May.

“Given the current make-up of the Moscow City Council, it became obvious to Wal-Mart that they did not stand a chance of passing through all these hurdles, and it was at that time that they cancelled plans for a Moscow Supercenter,” Forbes said in an e-mail.

The site in Pullman, located across the street from Safeway on Bishop Boulevard, has been zoned for large-scale commercial retailers for 25 years, Forbes said. Wal-Mart did not have to rely on a city council vote to build on the site. The plan to construct a Supercenter in Pullman was announced to the public in October 2004, Forbes said.
Montgomery stated in his decision to approve the store that the project is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, which discusses how Moscow has captured most of the retail trade in the Palouse.

“Pullman desires a better balance of shopping and entertainment opportunities. The proposed project would bring desired retail to the city of Pullman and help balance the retail trade currently existing in Moscow.”
“Mr. Montgomery has failed to connect evidence to case law to conclusions,” said PARD member and lawyer Judith Krueger. “He has added more evidence, from both PARD and Wal-Mart perspectives, but then just seems to arbitrarily decide he likes some pieces of evidence more than others. The job of the hearing examiner is to connect the dots between evidence, law and conclusion. Mr. Montgomery once again has not done so. He simply chooses to side with Wal-Mart on most issues even when he cites evidence of their inconsistencies or notes that they admit to ‘cannibalistic’ practices in their business dealings.”

The next step in the process is for Judge David Frazier, who asked Montgomery to expand on his original decision to approve Wal-Mart, to hear PARD’s appeal of the decision. The hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax.

PARD’s Web site states, “PARD has found massive evidence that the proposed store would be a threat to the local environment, local businesses, local workers, the Bishop Place retirement/assisted living community, Pullman Regional Hospital and the city cemetery. This raises vital concerns about public safety, health, financial stability and community values.”

“We have every reason to believe that Judge Frazier will uphold Mr. Montgomery’s revised decision and that Pullman and Whitman County can soon begin to recapture the serious sales leakages to neighboring communities,” Forbes said in the press release.

“PARD trusts that Judge Frazier — who, unlike Mr. Montgomery, lives in Whitman County — will come to different, more sensible conclusions about issues of safety and impact upon the citizens of Pullman,” Christopher Lupke, media coordinator for PARD, stated in the press release.

The release also noted a recent study by University of Idaho economist Steve
Peterson for the Moscow Chamber of Commerce showed that Pullman and Whitman County are experiencing “retail sales leakages of $158.4 million in 2005 to Moscow and Latah County.”

Peterson’s study analyzed the impact of Wal-Mart on communities and also debunked some myths about Wal-Mart’s pay scale and health benefits.
According to the study, Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, grocery chain and employer in the United States, with 1.3 million employees. In 2006 the retail giant had $316 billion in sales revenue.

The study also stated, “Contrary to popular opinion, Wal-Mart’s wages are competitive nationally. Wal-Mart’s U.S. average annual wage of $21,029 is competitive in the retail trade industry.” The Moscow Wal-Mart has an average wage of $22,006 a year, more than the local supermarket average of $19,040, the study said. The average wage at the Moscow store is more than the general merchandise wage in all 50 states. The study said the starting wage at the store is $7.50 an hour with an average rage of $10.58.

Peterson also said in the study that 75 percent of the Moscow store’s employees are covered with health benefits.
“Both the leadership and citizens of Pullman desire more of an economic balance with their neighbor to the east,” Forbes said. “A Wal-Mart Supercenter would represent a step in that direction.”

Once the appeals process is over, Forbes said it will take approximately 10 months for Wal-Mart to build the store once ground is broken. He said Pullman officials are ready to issue a building permit and the store would hope to open before Christmas 2007.

Forbes said the new store may impact the existing Wal-Mart in Moscow and will have a significant effect on Moscow grocery stores as Washington does not have sales tax on food, resulting in lower prices. Wal-Mart has announced no plans to close the store in Moscow, Forbes said, stating that it considers Moscow and Pullman to be two distinct markets.
That is one of the better articles I have read lately. Savannah Cummings did a great job. The whole Pullman-Moscow Wal-Mart saga has lasted so long, and taken so many twists and turns, it's like trying to explain the succession of the Merovingian dynasty to reporters who have not been here from the beginning.

Technorati Tags:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

No SuperWalMart........Anywhere

Flushed with success at their "slam dunking" of the Wal-Mart Supercenter project in Moscow, the No SuperWalMart group is imperiously and arrogantly now trying to extend its reach beyond Moscow's borders. A flyer called "Closing the Gaps" has identified Latah County and the Hawkins Companies development Pullman/Moscow corridor in Whitman County as possible areas Wal-Mart could locate in. They want members to lobby the Latah County commissoners to adopt Moscow's "big box" ordinance. They have identified no action for the Hawkins Companies development in the corridor as of yet, but the flyer mentions that "Water supply is likely the biggest stumbling block to the proposal."

Mark Solomon is a leader of No SuperWalMart. He is also actively involved in the upcoming Palouse Basin Water Summit. He was quoted as saying:
“With the changes Whitman County is facing on land use, this is a good time to come up to speed on what everyone is thinking and start to think of things in terms of a solution. Hopefully, this will go beyond putting slogans on newsprint and hinting at ideas.”
Is it any wonder Whitman County commissioners fear this "summit" will turn into a three-ring circus?

Technorati Tags:

Quotes of the Day

"If you want some protection, you're probably going to have to give up some of your rights."
- Latah County Commissioner Jack Nelson on his vote to deny Naylor Farms a conditional use permit last night, as reported in today's Lewiston Tribune.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
- Attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More on the Moonbat Crop Circles

According to the ultra-leftist Daily Kos blog, 27-year old Aaron Flansburg is a bit more than a simple fifth generation farmer from Palouse. Flansburg is also a member of Eastern WA Voters (more on that in a moment). Daily Kos was one the places online where this moonbat crop circle was originally exhibited. Be sure to check out all the wingnut rhetoric in the post, including "hijacking of the initiative process by right-wing extremists" and "counties would have to waive the zoning ordinances that protect farmland from urban sprawl that paves over farmland, drives up the cost of farmland for family farms needing to expand, and pushes up property taxes for struggling farmers." The picture has been widely carried on on the No On I-933 website and various other Washington liberal blogs.

On their website, Eatern WA Voters is described as a "new, progressive, organization in Eastern Washington. We sprung up out of the network of regional Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and supporters of other 2004 presidential campaigns. Now we are working very hard to elect other progressive candidates at the state and federal level." Eastern WA Voters is also the group that has "allied" with PARD to fight I-933.

EWV is headed by Pullman resident Bryan Burke. Burke is a graduate TA in the WSU (ta-da!) Sociology department chaired by (ta-da!) PARDner Greg Hooks, is a member of the (ta-da!) Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, and also runs a business called "Retro Printing and Publishing."

This comment on RateMyProfessors.com from last year is telling:
This is an easy class, as might be expected from a pseudo-science like SOC, but expect to get a FULL IMMERSION in moral relativism and Marxism from Burke. His seemingly LSD-induced philosophies and contradictions about "Society," "The Corporations," "The Media," and "Politicians" will absolutely blow your mind. Bring your blood pressure medicine.
According to PDC reports, Aaron Flansburg contributed $50 to Eastern WA Voters. By far and away, however, the biggest contributor to Eastern WA Voters ($1,000) has been Paul Brainerd, the founder and CEO of Aldus Corp. in Seattle and head of The Brainerd Foundation, a Northwest conservation group. Brainerd also gave $50,000 to Citizens for Community Protection, an organization opposed to I-933.

Remember, like Scotty said, never take anything at face value, and always follow the money. The radical political views of Flansburg, Burke, and Eastern WA Voters have about as much in common with the majority of folks in Eastern Washington as ET does.

UPDATE: April points out that Aaron Flansburg is not just your average, down-home wheat farmer sitting behind the wheel of a combine. Nope, Aaron is also the lead singer of the local punk band "Random Noise" that got its start "in the beer-soaked basement of the party house known as the Tool Shed." Yes, these are definitely the mainstream voices of Eastern Washington.

Speaking of I933

Aaron Flansburg of Whitman County has used his wheat field (Story About Aaron Flansburg) to rally against I933. What is interesting is that if he was in The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. County, he could be in trouble for doing that. As their CAO (Critical Area's Ordinance) limits what people in the rural areas can do with two-thirds of their land. He could have gotten in trouble for disturbing HIS LAND.

People are complaining about the number of initiatives that are appearing all over the West. It might make one think that due to the additional laws and rules that are being placed on land owners year after year, that the land owners are finally fighting back. It could be that the land owners are sick of paying a large amount of money each year on land they have fewer and fewer rights to use. In The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. County some people are paying plenty for land they can do nothing with.

The argument is what it will cost taxpayers. It has been costing the taxpayers for years. One by one each tax payer who owns land has paid for the land and his restricted used of it. Now those who advocated more and more strict policies will have to think about how it will affect people.

It appears that some people are trying to stretch this law to mean that 100% of rules, laws, and ordinances will possibly have to be repealed.

I-933 is a costly scheme that would force communities to choose between paying millions of dollars to special interests to obey basic city zoning ordinances and environmental and smart growth laws, or to waive these laws.

The use of their wording, such as forcing people, schemes, etc to bring out emotional reactions to their argument is typical and doesn't work on *this guy*.

It is interesting that the citizens of the state of Washington who own and pay property taxes on their land are now referred to as "special interests". I think it would be just as easy to say "people" or "citizens".

And the hyperbole of adding basic city ordinances to the extreme environmental and "smart" growth laws.

Tom has already pointed it out, and I hope we continue to pound away at this, we are losing property rights. We need to put an end to it. The only special interests in this debate are the non-land owners/tax payers who want to restrict what the land owners do through legislation.

Still Think We Don't Need I-933?

Another example of a one-size-fits-all, bureaucratic, unthinking, flatgrantly unfair, and flat-out ridiculous land use/environmental regulation passed by suburbanites from the west side of the state from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
New stormwater regulations could put Pullman in a bind

Pullman residents soon may see a new fee on their water and sewer bills because of a new set of stormwater regulations being adopted by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The department will issue a new stormwater permit on Dec. 6 that is designed to manage the quantity and quality of runoff water from development. The new regulations include more stringent stormwater-management standards and reporting requirements that city officials say are going to cost Pullman and its residents substantial amounts of money.

Pullman Public Works Director Mark Workman expects he’ll have to hire more staff to manage stormwater and to review development applications. The city also will have to create a stormwater utility, with a corresponding tax to pay for the costs of complying with the new standards.

The net effect is that the city either will have to raise taxes or make cuts, Councilman Keith Bloom said Tuesday night following a presentation by David Duncan, a Department of Ecology representative.

An additional problem is no one — not even the Department of Ecology — knows whether the city will be able to comply with the new standards for how turbid water can be in the South Fork of the Palouse River.

Turbidity refers to the amount of suspended material, such as clay or silt washed from fields, that can be seen when light passes through water, Kevin Gardes, the city’s deputy public works director, said in a telephone interview today.

“Basically, the dirtier or muddier the water, the higher the turbidity number,” Gardes said.

Pullman is surrounded by about 1 million acres of farmland and has uniquely loose soil, which means there’s a lot of dirt in the South Fork of the Palouse River, Bloom said. The costs to clean all of that dirt out of the river could be astronomical.

“Developers don’t pick up the cost. Consumers pick up the cost,” Bloom said. “This is an opportunity to stifle economic growth.”

Bloom foresees developers flocking across the border to Idaho if they have to meet the Ecology’s new standards in Pullman and Whitman County.

There are other impacts the average citizen wouldn’t expect, Councilman Barney Waldrop said. The way the regulations are written, Pullman residents wouldn’t be allowed to wash their cars in their driveways, or let water fall from their lawn sprinklers onto pavement because that water would run off into the city’s creeks and rivers.

The city tried to be excluded from the regulations, but was denied by the Department of Ecology with no rationale given for why it should be included.

The regulations are designed to apply to cities with a population of 10,000 or more, and construction activities on one- to five-acre plots of land. Without Washington State University included in Pullman’s population count, Pullman met the criteria, Duncan said.

Duncan acknowledged Pullman is in a tight spot.

“I believe Pullman has probably the most difficult situation in the state with regard to soils,”Duncan said.

Nonetheless, he thinks Pullman needs to do a better job managing its stormwater runoff.

The Department of Ecology offered the city a $75,000 grant to start planning its stormwater utility, but the City Council delayed making a decision on whether or not to take the money until it gets more information from the department. The council didn’t want to lose its chance to appeal its being included in the new standards by taking the money.

Officials from the city and WSU will talk with Ecology representatives on Oct. 4 to ask why Pullman was included in the new standards. The council again will consider accepting the $75,000 grant at its Oct. 10 meeting.
If the state can do this to the City of Pullman, imagine what they could to you and your property.

I wonder if cities will be able to sue the state for damages under I-933? Maybe the citizens of Pullman can sue.

Pullman and Whitman County's economic growth is being drowned in a sea of water regulations, not only from Moscow, but from Olympia as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To The Barricades!

From today's Seattle Times:
A small coffee retailer in Bellevue has sued Starbucks, claiming the world's largest coffee-shop chain exerts an "insatiable and unchecked ambition" that amounts to being a monopoly.

Starbucks is undoubtedly big, with more than 12,000 stores and a goal of operating 30,000 worldwide. Still, experts say it will be a difficult case to win.


The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed by attorney Steve Berman, who has pursued a number of large class-action cases. It asks that Starbucks stop the alleged anticompetitive conduct and pay attorney fees and other plaintiffs' costs.

"The courts ultimately want to look at whether conduct is beneficial to consumers, and here it's not, because consumers want choice," Berman said. "Maybe they'll choose Starbucks, but ultimately anyone in any market wants to be able to choose other products. That's the competitive evil Starbucks is perpetuating here on consumers."


Howard Shelanski, an antitrust expert and professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, said the suit would be a hard case to win.

"Starbucks will say, 'We don't even have a monopoly in the building where we're the only coffee shop, because we compete with coffee makers in offices and conference rooms upstairs,' " he said.

The Seattle area has a thriving community of independent coffee merchants.
I expect PARD to immediately begin gathering petition signatures and picketing the Stadium Way Starbucks location, because as PARD spokesmodel Lu Laoshi has stated, Wal-Mart is also guilty of practicing "monopoly capitalism." I can see the press release now: MASSIVE MOCHA MAMMOTH ENDANGERS MOM-AND-POP!! BARISTA BEHEMOTH CREATES CAFFEINATED BLIGHT!! JAVA GIANT ENCROACHES ON SACRED LOCAL ESPRESSO STAND!!

C'mon guys, I'm waiting......*crickets chirping*

Of course, it's patently absurd to believe that either Wal-Mart or Starbucks have a monopoly. I can buy a pair of underwear or a latte at any number of places even here in little old Pullman. This just shows how some people in America get completely bent out of shape over "bigness" (and have too much time and money on their hands).

And it also illustrates once again the utter fallacy of picking on one company over another. Now we have funky, hip, urban, Democrat-donatin', rain-forest savin', politically correctified Starbucks being subjected to a class-action lawsuit. Being sued makes you guilty of absolutely nothing but being successful. Such is life in post-modern America.

Technorati Tags:

Yet Another Reason to Vote for I-933

PARD is against it!!!

I'll spare you all the usual leftist, environmentalist claptrap. You can read the release for yourself here.

Here's the part I like:

“It not only will spell disaster for the environment by giving free reign to corporate developers, it will be extremely costly to you and me, the average taxpaying residents of our state.” Estimates put the cost of administering the new bureaucracy needed to manage appeals to I-933 at over 300 million dollars, based on the effect a similar initiative has had on the State of Oregon.
You're kidding, right? The organization that has FORCED THE CITY OF PULLMAN TO SPEND OVER $20,000 IN TAXPAYER'S MONEY BECAUSE OF ITS OWN FRIVILOUS APPEAL is using the cost of appeals as a reason to oppose I-933? That's priceless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PARD also states:
I-933 is opposed by scores of prominent civics groups throughout the state, including the League of Women Voters, American Federation of Teachers, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy...
Yet even more reason to vote for I-933. Anything that has that rogue's gallery riled up is not only good, it has to be the best piece of legislation introduced since the Articles of Impeachment against Bill Clinton.

Don't Believe Everything You Read!

The results of the 2006 general election will, for all practical purposes, be determined in late October. This is due to the widespread use of mail-in ballots by the bulk of the 5th Congressional District voters.

I invite all residents to join me in voting for Peter Goldmark, for the U. S. House of Representatives. Peter is a proven leader, not a rubber stamp such as our current representative. Peter supports our veterans. The current representative does not support vets as evidenced by her vote against them (HR1815). Goldmark will work to reinstate responsible and fiscal prudence in the national budgetary process. He will work with both sides of the "aisle."

My appeal is especially to those of you who make a living in the agricultural sector. Goldmark knows firsthand the problems of agriculture, economy and trade. He knows how much we all must rely on energy and will take creative steps to help resolve this crisis.

Peter Goldmark has been a regent for Washington State University and knows firsthand the issues related to higher education. He has served on a local school board and knows the critical role our public schools play and how shameful the No Child Left Behind Act is, which the incumbent praises.

Goldmark has the tickets to bring respect, honesty and integrity back to the U. S. House of Representatives. Mark your "X" for Peter Goldmark and help elect an effective congressman.

Donald C. Orlich

After checking the US House of Representatives' Website (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll665.xml) I found that she did vote for it. Did Orlich lie on purpose or does he not check his own facts and/or use his own work? The only way I will believe this was actually a mistake and not a lie is if he lets everyone know he copied someone else's' thoughts and tried to pretend that they were his own.

It seems that sometimes people use citations of sources in order to make their lie credible, hoping that people will not check up on them. There are two examples of this in about two weeks.

The other one was recently another letter to the editor was in the Daily News where there was a claim that Coker was breaking the law by not including information about handicap voting in every ballot. A citation was given, but when checking on the citation no indication of using a ballot as a means of transmitting information about handicap vote was there. That was made up by the writer.

BREAKING NEWS: Hearing Examiner Denies PARD's Appeal Once Again

I have obtained a copy of the Hearing Examiner's Revised Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law conncering the Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter project. Te full decision can be found here.

It is much longer than the previous version. A bunch of ridiculous, irrelevent, and unsupported crap was added at PARD's insistence about economic impacts, wages, blight, and crime.

Nevertheless, here are some highlights from the decision:

  • Generally government may not micro-manage every aspect of every development and particularly those which are considered to be unpopular. Government does not have the time, the resources, or the ability to regulate every aspect of every development project, nor to enforce the same. Nor should government take regulatory control of all aspects of any development for which it does not have a significant interest in protection from existing regulations, the general health, welfare and safety, or the result of environmental regulations. For Wal-Mart, as a property owner possessing the necessary zoning classification to be micro-managed to the extent sought by the appellant would be considered blatantly offensive by any citizen of Pullman seeking to develop their own property. Only existing laws and regulation may be lawfully imposed. To that extent, Wal-Mart is a citizen of the City of Pullman, having certain rights relative to its property and those rights already existent under the laws applicable to the development.

  • Although not required to do so, the applicant submitted an economic impact analysis and offered expert testimony at the hearing that showed the proposed Project would not have a negative impact on the City of Pullman, would not cause urban blight, and would generate large tax revenues. PARD was unable to submit any evidence into the record showing that the proposed Project would likely have negative economic consequences on the City of Pullman. Although it submitted several studies of Wal-Mart’s impacts on other communities, the applicant’s expert properly concluded that these studies were not relevant in the City of Pullman and that these impacts could not be expected to occur.

  • PARD was unable to otherwise show that the fiscal impact analysis completed by the City was not considered in its site plan approval process.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 3, page 20 of the Comprehensive Plan, which indicates that Moscow has captured the bulk of retail trade in the Palouse region, and that Pullman desires a better balance of shopping and entertainment opportunities. The proposed Project would bring desired retail to the City of Pullman and help balance the retail trade currently existing in Moscow, Idaho.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 4, page 36 of the Comprehensive Plan which states that Pullman residents should be able to purchase products within the community, that the downtown is recognized as the heart of the community, and that commercial facilities outside of downtown should be clustered in convenient locations. The proposed Project would ensure that Pullman is self-sufficient in its retail needs and would prevent shoppers from shopping in Moscow. The economic impact analysis completed by the applicant concluded that the downtown will continue to be vibrant. The fiscal impact analysis completed by the City concluded that there would not be a negative fiscal impact on the City of Pullman. The proposed Project is located along Bishop Boulevard, which is identified as an area of commercial development elsewhere in the Comprehensive Plan.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 5, page 45 of the Comprehensive Plan which states that not all commercial activity will occur downtown, but some will occur along Bishop and Professional Mall Boulevards. It also states that commercial development should compliment, not compete with, downtown businesses. This section also states that new commercial development should promote alternative modes of transportation and include attractive pedestrian accesses. The proposed Project complies with this section of the Comprehensive Plan.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with several goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan regarding commercial and economic development, including Goal LU5 and Policies LU5.1, 5.2, 5.3, and 5.8. Although the proposed Project is not located in the downtown business district, substantial evidence shows that it will not have a significant adverse impact on downtown.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Goal LU6 which states that the City should enlarge the economic base of the community by encouraging non-polluting businesses that provide high-wage jobs. The economic impact study submitted by the applicant showed that wages paid by Wal-Mart would not be lower than average.

  • PARD’s allegations that the scope of the TIA erroneously did not contain certain driveways and intersections is not supported by sufficient evidence; PARD did not enter into the record any evidence showing that vehicular circulation would be negatively affected at the driveway and intersection locations.

  • PARD’s allegations that impacts relating to trucks and truck turning radii would cause a significant impact to traffic is not supported by sufficient evidence.

  • The mitigation requirements that will be constructed as a part of the proposed Project will properly mitigate traffic impacts attributable to the proposed Project.

  • No credible evidence exists to suggest that urban blight will result from approval of the proposal under SEPA. The mere suggestion of such does not establish a significant environmental concern requiring preparation of a Final Impact Analysis under SEPA or a fiscal impact analysis.

  • Wal-Mart has mitigated impacts of its proposal on the Pullman Cemetery. In the event that human remains are disturbed, the Applicant’s construction effort will be abated in that area for a governmental determination of a course of action.

  • As mitigated the proposal does not result in a significant environmental impact requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and the DNS is approved.

  • Now, all that remains is for Judge Frazier to uphold this decision at the hearing on October 18.

    Technorati Tags:

    Letter strengthened opponent’s point


    It is interesting to read through David Leonard’s criticism of Tom Forbes’ recent letter to the editor in which Mr. Forbes points out interesting facts about the candidacy of Caitlin Ross, namely that she’s carpetbagging.

    The most glaringly obvious and entertaining feature of Leonard’s response is that he did not at all, not once, refute Mr. Forbes’ points. Instead, Leonard brings up some other, partisan examples of carpetbagging in an attempt at misdirection.

    The funny thing about Leonard’s little tantrum is that in offering such examples, he only underscored and validated Mr. Forbes’ findings.

    I would like to thank Leonard for his service in shedding more light on the validity of Mr. Forbes’ points. Voters, please take note.

    Paul E. Zimmerman
    Instructor, Philosophy

    "Market Power"

    Excellent editorial from Investor's Business Daily:
    Health Care: Wal-Mart (WMT) has plans to sell nearly 300 generic medications for $4 each starting Friday. How will its raging rivals handle this?

    Because of its success and size, both of which have made it a fat target for unions and the petulant class warriors of the left, Wal-Mart believes it will be able to sell 30-day supplies of 291 generic prescription drugs for $4 each to both insured and uninsured customers. Typically, a month of generic drugs costs between $10 and $30 at retail.

    For now, the $4 price will be limited to 65 Tampa, Fla.-area Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam's Club pharmacies. It is expected to spread to the entire state by January and then into "as many states as possible next year," said Lee Scott, CEO of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer.

    The benefits won't end at Wal-Mart's exits. Drugstore chains will have no choice but to try to match the lower prices — just as other stores now do on a wide range of goods, from groceries and clothes to consumer electronics and appliances.

    Consumer costs for prescription medication is a favorite bludgeon of Democrats and leftist activists. They have demonized drug makers with almost the same zeal they apply in casting the oil industry and Wal-Mart as devils incarnate.

    Granted, paying for lifesaving and body-healing drugs is not easy for millions of low-income Americans. We bet these people will gladly welcome Wal-Mart's solution.

    The question is not so much how Wal-Mart will make a profit — its remarkable productivity and its size, which lets it buy in bulk and sell at low prices, should take care of that — but how will the anti-Wal-Mart bloc respond?

    The drumbeat against the chain is based on complaints of low wages and poor health care coverage for its workers. Last year, Wal-Mart began an innovative health care plan for its lowest paid workers and still got clobbered by its union critics and the left.

    Will Wal-Mart foes at least recognize that poor Americans, the very people they purport to represent, will benefit from plunging drug prices?

    That might be too much to ask from people who yelp about Wal-Mart's labor policies yet refuse to see the benefits of low prices for the millions who live in or near the 1,100 neighborhoods across the country where Wal-Marts can be found.
    In the last study we saw, the per-family savings came to $2,300 a year.

    Wal-Mart believes its price cuts will help as many as 2.7 million uninsured Floridians get the drugs they need. That's a significant number of people who will be more grateful to a capitalist corporation than to the envious rabble rousers who claim to be selflessly working on their behalf.

    Blocking the growth of a chain that brings jobs, value and almost unbelievably low prices on medicines suddenly becomes a more difficult task.

    Wal-Mart's price drop sounds like a solid health care plan to us. We bet those who'll benefit the most will agree.
    Technorati Tags:

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Lesson From the Coalfields

    There has been much talk lately about what can be done to improve Pullman and Whitman County's economy. Particularly, what can we do to bring in more high-paying jobs?

    An Associated Press story on rural high-tech industry yields some interesting insights:
    From the outside, the house looks like any other in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. But inside, industrial cubicles sprawl across a well-worn hardwood floor, placing uniformed programmers and high-speed computers within arm's reach of an antique fireplace.

    This is the headquarters for DataFutures Inc. — a $5 million company that makes software to track school finances and lunches for school districts nationwide, but chooses to operate in 2,050-population Harlan.

    "The thing about technology is you can do it from anywhere," said Charleen Combs, CEO and co-founder of DataFutures.

    Experts say Combs' viewpoint is becoming more common among young professionals and high-tech entrepreneurs, many of whom are ditching the big-city scene and taking advantage of the lower costs and comforts typical of rural towns.

    "Anecdotally, I really believe it's a trend," said Lawrence Gelburd, an independent consultant and lecturer on entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

    "The costs are so much lower in these rural areas," he added. "The value that they get, the pace of life and the ubiquitous nature of technology makes rural areas more attractive."

    The employees at these rural businesses are a mix of local hires, often college graduates who don't mind working back home, and professionals who are tired of traffic and high costs associated with working near big cities.


    Mallet said businesses in rural areas have a main advantage: lower costs.

    "The business sector has changed completely," said Mallett, whose mystery shopping company plants undercover consumers to evaluate retail services for his some 200 clients nationwide, including Foot Locker Inc. (FL), Darden Restaurants Inc.'s (DRI) Hardee's chain and Dunkin' Donuts. "The Wal-Mart mentality has changed the world. It's all about cost now."

    Entrepreneurs like Combs and Mallett enjoy office space that comes at a fraction of the leasing costs in big cities. The cost of living is less, so wages are lower, yet still appealing to their employees. And, with hardly any traffic, there's less money wasted on high gas prices and less stress among employees.
    Harlan, KY, three hours from the nearest major airport and two hours from an interstate, is even more remote than Pullman. Only 5% of the work force in Harlan has a college degree and only 3% a graduate degree. 44% of adults over 25 in Pullman have Bachelor's degrees, and 19.9% have graduate degrees. That ranks Pullman nationally in those categories for small towns. Our commutes are short, just like Harlan. So why aren't high-tech companies lined up at our door?

    Read the story above carefully. The key factor is LOW COST. The average price of a home in Harlan is $73,137. In Harlan County, it is $56,778. The average home price in Whitman County is near $200,000.

    Harlan has also has a Wal-Mart, which also helps explain the lower cost of living.

    Our attracting high-tech industry to the Palouse has nothing to do with a "knowledge corridor" or any of that other mindless sloganeering. Ed Schweitzer, the Bill Gates of the Palouse, has said it over and over again. Get rid of all the the restrictive housing and zoning regulations. Make Whitman County more business friendly by welcoming ALL businesses, regardless of size. Then they will come.

    Tour De Farce

    One of the charges frequently made against Wal-Mart, both at the local and national level, is that Wal-mart mistreats its suppliers. Personally, as long as the suppliers are selling their goods and getting paid, I don't see how this is a problem. Nonetheless, Barry C. Lynn, in a recent issue of Harper's Bazaar, called for Wal-Mart to be broken up because he claims Wal-Mart has created a monopsony. A monopsony is a market in which goods or services are offered by several sellers but there is only one buyer.

    Then there's that paragon of retail virtue, Costco. This recent story in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News caught me eye:
    Redline Retailer Gets Duped by Bogus Buyer

    AUGUST 01, 2006 -- KENT, WA (BRAIN)—Seattle Bike Supply has long held a strict policy of not selling the Redline brand through big-box or mass-marketing outlets. So it came as quite a shock last week when they heard that Redline bikes were spotted on the floors of Southern California Costco stores.

    Weeks prior, an SBS retailer in Southern California was approached by a “marketing company” supposedly on behalf of a major foreign airline to purchase 250 fully-assembled Redline bikes to be sent overseas as premium in the Airline’s frequent flyer program. The supposed marketing company even supplied a copy of the product “request” on the airline’s stationery to make the purchase look more authentic. SBS believes that these were the bikes that instead were diverted to Costco. The product involved was 200 of Redline's 20-inch “Roam” bicycles.

    Because Costco is not an authorized Redline dealer, and the SBS retailer appears to have been deceived in releasing the bikes outside the authorized chain of distribution, the questions remain on whether the bikes sold at Costco are to be covered under Redline warranty.

    SBS is investigating the incident, and announced that it would put into place stronger identification requirements to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
    A knowledgeable source informs Palousitics that:
    Costco allegedly has a long history of acquiring products using such questionable methods from companies, distributors or retailers who will not sell to them. When you stroll the aisles of Costco, part of the thrill is finding items that you would normally only be able to buy at a specialty retailer mixed in with the regular stock from willing Costco vendors. Costco will typically have a very limited quantity and those items may only last hours or days and they will not be getting more.

    Ever wonder why you will see a few certain power tools, electronics, shoes, sporting goods, etc, that are only found in specialty stores? It's due to the alleged underhanded tactics used by Costco's buyers to acquire them. A specialty retailer often has dealerships or agreements with manufacturers of speciality goods that they will assemble, service, train and educate the consumer in the use of the products , perhaps dedicate a certain amount of their floorspace or purchases to a manufacturer in order to carry the product, etc, etc .

    So in a nutshell, here you have a company that appears to hurt small retailers by acquiring the same products, without any of the commitments normally associated with presenting them, then selling those items at cost or even a loss just to add a bit of glitz to their stores.
    Hmmmmm. Questionable labor practices, now questionable business practices.

    I'm not suggesting that Costco is either guilty or innocent of any of these charges. Heck, I like Costco. I'm a member. There's not a time my family goes there that we don't walk having spent at least $100 or more (and see about 5 other families from Pullman). I'd be the first one to welcome Costco to Pullman.

    I'm merely pointing out that any corporation is run by human beings, subject to human foibles, with the primary goal of making money, not perfect saints who pursue some altruistic purpose. No business is as good or as bad as people think it is. It is a fool's proposition, as PARD has done, to try and play one retailer off as being somehow more "morally superior" than another. At the end of the day, it's all about the bottom line.

    Technorati Tags:

    The PES is Back on the Air

    Tune into 90.7 FM, KZUU on Monday's from Noon to 2pm. The PES is back on the air talking local politics, sports, and technology. Our own Tom Forbes was co-hosting the show last year. I have hatched a plan to get him back on the air, but it will take a lot of work.

    In the mean time you can listen to conservative thinkers Scotty and Peter, as well as some phone in commentary from our own TOM FORBES!!!

    Anyone can call in during the show at 335.2207 to talk to us.

    Another Democratic Carpetbagger Goes Down in Flames

    Moderate Democratic State Senator Tim Sheldon, 35th District, made enemies among the liberal extremists in his party by openly supporting Dino Rossi and George Bush in 2004.

    So Washington state and national Democratic goons, along with the "nutroots," decided to whack him, Joe Lieberman Style.

    According to The Daily World:
    This year, they [the Democrats] painted a bull’s eye on Sheldon’s chest and recruited Taylor Lucas, who moved into a rental house owned by Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, to be able to take on Sheldon. The party’s decision to try and take out Sheldon elevated the race into the national spotlight, and attracted state labor groups and Washington, D.C. -based liberal groups.

    “I think this shows that the Democratic Party leadership is completely out of touch with voters,” said the victorious Sheldon.

    Combined with the money Taylor-Lucas raised in the campaign, more than $269,000 was spent to try and oust Sheldon.
    The result:
    In the latest results, Sheldon has fully 56.8 percent of the vote (7,140 to 5,409) against well-financed newcomer Kyle Taylor Lucas, whom the party styled as the “real” Democrat.


    “I think the Democrats better check their strategy before they hit November, because it can backfire,” Sheldon added. “Negative campaigning apparently backfired big time in the 35th District.
    Predictably, according to the Rats, it's all a Republican plot:
    Taylor Lucas said the new primary system was partially at fault for her poor showing. She charged that many Republicans — confident that their U.S. Senate candidate, Mike McGavick was a shoo-in for November — chose a Democratic ballot in order to keep the ticket-splitting Sheldon in office.
    Congratulations to the voters of the 35th District for seeing through the carpetbaggery and the BS. Now Taylor Lucas can move back to her real home in Olympia where she belongs.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    "The Americans"

    I want to post this 23 year old commentary by the Canadian writer Gordon Sinclair mainly because it is one of my favorite foreign opinion papers on those strange Americans. It describes a certian quality that we hardly ever hear from our own media.

    “The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany.

    It has declined there by 41% since 1971 and this Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the earth.

    As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtse. Who rushed in with men and money to help?

    The Americans did.

    They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Misssissippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help.

    Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

    When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

    When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries into help... Managua Nicaragua is one of the most recent examples. So far this spring, 59 American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped. The Marshall Plan .. the Truman Policy .. all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent war-mongering Americans. I'd like to see one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes. Come on... let's hear it!

    Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar or the Douglas 107? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or women on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times ... and safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everyone to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, most of them ... unless they are breaking Canadian laws..are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend here. When the Americans get out of this bind ... as they will... who could blame them if they said 'the hell with the rest of the world'. Let someone else buy the Israel bonds, Let someone else build or repair foreign dams or design foreign buildings that won't shake apart in earthquakes.

    When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke. I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble?

    I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake. Our neighbours have faced it alone and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians.

    And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th Annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke. This year's disasters .. with the year less than half-over… has taken it all and nobody...but nobody... has helped.”


    Blinded by the Light

    A very good friend of mine told me something the other day that scared me, not because I found it horrifying or because I couldn’t understand it. Really, I thought it was amazing that liberalism could be so influential.

    I have known this young woman for a year now and we have gotten to know each other pretty well. She knows that I am a Republican, I know that she is a Democrat, and we like to bust each other’s chops because of it. But it wasn’t until just recently that I asked her why she was a Democrat. Her answer was like many others I have heard. She believed that it was the Democrats that were best equipped to handle things like women’s rights. Alone, this is not all that surprising. It’s the sort of reasoning I have come to expect. The odd thing is that she is basically a conservative at heart. If you didn’t know that she calls herself a Democrat, you’d swear that she’s a Republican. At some point in her life she decided that since she’s a woman she had better be a Democrat, and that the Republican Party would do anything within their power to suppress her.

    I see the same sort of thing in our elder Americans as well. My grandparents are about the most conservative people I can think of, yet they consistently vote Democrat despite their obvious dislike for what the party stands for. I’ve gotten the hint that a lot of this sentiment has its roots in the past. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, was instrumental in lifting the U.S. out of the Great Depression and worked tirelessly to fight fascism even up to his death. But FDR is hardly an ideal model for the modern Democratic Party. He did things in the thirties and forties that would send today’s Dems into a conniption fit.

    It has been my observation that many individuals vote Democrat against their own principles purely because they believe it is what is expected of them for one reason or another. Much of this is due to the incredible influence that they have over certain groups.

    The Democratic Party, to their credit, is very good at telling many different kinds of people exactly what they want to hear. Their appeal to minorities is strong and well founded, but spotted and inconstant. If they genuinely cared about the rights of minorities they would stop building programs that keep them hopelessly dependent upon their assistance. If they genuinely cared about the rising cost of health care they would encourage the growth and development of better health care providers rather than universal bureaucracies designed to control them, and swallow more and more funding in the process. If the Democrats cared so much about national security, as they claim to, they would step back and let the president do what he was elected by a civil majority to do. I could think of many other ways that they play on our fears and uncertainties, but they are best left for future blogs.

    By the time that I was old enough to vote I had already decided that liberalism was not for me. I grew up with the honorable Bill Clinton as president, and while he had his good points (none actually come to mind right now, but I’m sure there were a few) he did some things that even a young-en like me understood to be shameful. And it was not just Bill, but his entire party as well. I saw them as a gaggle of hypocrites that would continually say one thing on camera but do another off camera. I see many liberals as little more than very gifted actors and actresses, which is probably why they’re so popular among Hollywood celebrities.

    Liberalism has a strange sort of glamour that can easily captivate Americans of all ages and backgrounds. Many of the promises that they make are ideals that all of us hope for to some degree; be it affordable health care, a cleaner environment, or equality for all. But I am left to wonder exactly what their motives are. Is it to build a stronger, happier society? Or is it simply to gain political recognition among certain demographics as a means to pursue power and influence?

    History, I believe, would not refute that it is the later.

    Donkey See, Donkey Do

    One of our aspiring WSU Young Democrat attack ad makers sent me these links last night:

    Republicans Don't Want You to Vote

    Cathy McMorris is the Devil

    In addition to getting the Jigsaw Killer to do the voiceovers, I was impressed with how well the junior donkeys have soaked up the lessons of the elder asses. No need for any meaningful, truthful, or positive discussion of the issues, just splatter lots of Bush-Cheney caca all over the place.

    Whoever made these videos has a definite career ahead with the Democratic National Committee, assuming there is still even a Democratic Party in ten years.

    "Analysts:Retailers' move marks sea change in pricing"

    From today's Lewiston Tribune:
    Target has decided to copy Wal-Mart's plan to sell $4 generics -- a move that experts say is likely to create a completely new and cheaper pricing structure for America's off-patent medicines.

    "I think you're going to see very simplified pricing for generics in most places now," said Richard D. Hastings, an analyst with Bernard Sands. "You're not going to be seeing $10 here and $16 there and $20 over there" for the same generic drug -- a pricing chaos that frequently exists now.

    On Thursday, Wal-Mart shocked the retail industry by saying it would offer 30-day supplies of 291 generic drugs for $4 in Tampa immediately, expand to the rest of Florida on Jan. 1, and then roll it out to the rest of the nation.

    Target, the No. 2 discounter, said it planned to copy the nation's No. 1, but its press release issued late Thursday evening mentioned only the Tampa area. The Minneapolis-based company didn't respond to The Miami Herald's question on Friday about whether it would match the $4 price elsewhere in Florida.

    But Hastings said he believed it inevitable that not only Target but also Walgreens and CVS would follow Wal-Mart's lead nationwide. "They're capable of doing that" without hurting their bottom line, said Hastings.

    However, Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin said, "We have no plans to do a program similar to Wal-Mart's." He noted the rival's program covers only a fraction of the 2,000 generics Walgreens and others sell.

    What's more, 95 percent of Walgreens customers have insurance, and for the 291 medications Wal-Mart is selling for $4, the average co-pay for $5.30 for nonseniors and $3.18 for seniors with Medicare Part D, Polzin said.

    Experts believe there is plenty of room for price reductions in generics. Neil Flanzraich, former president of the Miami generic drug maker IVAX, said Friday that while generics often cost just pennies a pill to make, "it's generally been admitted that in all the pharmacy chains, the biggest profit margin they get is on generics."

    "So Wal-Mart is lowering that somewhat," said Flanzraich. "That's a positive sign."

    The Generic Pharmaceutical Association noted that the $4 drugs tend to be older generics, with an average of seven manufacturers making each of the cheap drugs.

    Newer generics, such as simvastatin, the generic for the blockbuster cholesterol drug Zocor, go much higher -- about $125 for a month's supply. Teva, the purchaser of IVAX, is one of only three companies making that tablet, and it has 180 days of exclusivity for some dosages.

    WakeUpWalMart.com, an anti-company site run by a union, criticized Wal-Mart for not including generic Zocor in its bargains and noted that, while the company had boasted it was lowering prices on nearly 300 generics, the company's list showed "only 124 separate medicines," many of them in multiple doses.

    Still, of the top 10 selling generics in 2005, Wal-Mart and now Target will be offering the $4 price for six of them.

    In recent years. generic sales have soared, pushed by employers and large insurers concerned about drug prices increasing about 10 percent a year since 2000, according to industry data.

    Generics now represent 56 percent of all prescriptions dispensed annually in the United States, but because of the huge cost of branded drugs, they account for only 13 percent of dollars spent, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
    This is a big deal. The story rated a banner headline on the front page of the Friday Tribune. It was, however, buried on page 7A of the Thursday edition of the Daily News, whose publisher seems to think Wal-Mart has "minimal benefits." Heck, I even saw a TV ad from Senator Cantdowell last night claiming she would fight to lower drug prices. Sorry, Maria, Wal-Mart beat you to the punch.

    High drug prices hurt many people in this country, particularly the elderly. That is why many people go to Mexico and particularly Canada in search of cheaper medications. In fact, Congress just eased restrictions on crossing the border back into the U.S. with up to a 90-day supply of prescription drugs. Mail order or Internet purchase of drugs is still prohibited.

    As with anything else, what is needed to lower drug prices is more competition. Wal-Mart has taken the first step in that process. Now others are following.

    It figures Wal-Mart's critics would slam the company, even when they do something good. It just makes them look even more shrill and irrelevant. How could they possibly expect Wal-Mart to offer a $125 drug for $3?

    Some will probably even say that this is just a "Wal-Mart publicity stunt." Who cares if it is or not? We all will benefit. If some store was handing out $100 bills as a "publicity stunt," I'd be a fool not to take one. And I'll also take practical corporate action over lofty political rhetoric any day of the week.

    Technorati Tags:

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Crying Over Spilled Water

    New Moscow-Pullman Daily News editor Doug Bauer has inherited Virginia Henderson's liberal pro-Moscow mantle quite well. Here is an excerpt from his editorial in today's paper:
    People who are eligible to vote but don’t cast their ballot shouldn’t complain about the results.

    Likewise, Whitman County shouldn’t bemoan the Palouse’s water woes if it doesn’t take an active role in determining the way it’s dispersed.


    Among the key issues is Boise-based Hawkins Companies’ plan to build a 700,000-square-foot shopping center along the Pullman-Moscow corridor, just inside the Washington border.

    That would put the mall much closer to Moscow city limits than Pullman.

    Opponents contend the proposed development would create a dangerous environment for Pullman-Moscow Highway motorists, that run-off from the presumably massive parking lot will pollute Paradise Creek, and that it will add stress to the diminishing aquifers.

    Political leaders and concerned residents on both sides of the border should look past any water issues pertaining to the proposed development alone. An all-encompassing strategy should be considered, one that could be used to develop a comprehensive plan for years to come.
    Here's the problem, Doug. This isn't an election and there won't be a vote. We're not asking for anyone's permission. It's OUR land, right up to where it touches Idaho, and we'll do with it what WE want, not what a bunch of wacko aquifer huggers decide. No one in Whitman County is bemoaning "the Palouse's water woes" anyway. We're bemoaning the loss of our sales tax base.

    Water isn't the real issue anyway (outside of Mark Solomon, the Moscow Civic Association, and the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute). The real issue IS the Hawkins Companies development and, more importantly, Moscow maintaining its retail dominance on the Palouse, to the tune of over $150 million a year leaking from Pullman and Whitman County into Moscow every year. Water is just another in along list of excuses to keep Whitman County down.

    I don't remember any similar "summit," "all-encompassing strategy," or "comprehensive plan" when all those retail stores were going in on the west side of Moscow over the last decade, right on the border with Whitman County. Why is it so "critical" that there be one now? Because Moscow finally sees a group of Whitman County commissioners determined to make development happen in the corridor.

    Cant-do-well 2-Fer

    Two great editorials slamming Senator Maria Cant-do-well in today's Lewiston Tribune First from Jim Fisher:
    Intelligent discussion of Social Security? No way

    Washington Democratic leaders apparently can't help themselves. Every time Republican Mike McGavick mentions Social Security, they have to misrepresent his position.

    If someone -- Sen. Maria Cantwell perhaps -- doesn't put them on a 12-step program, fair-minded people might have no recourse but to vote for McGavick. Or does State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz think he doesn't need such people to re-elect Cantwell?

    The evening of Washington's primary election, McGavick told supporters that whenever he talks about reforming Social Security, his proposal "gets derided as privatization, which I happen to be against."

    And sure enough, the next morning, Pelz was happy to do just that.

    "Mike McGavick has indicated the he supports the privatization of Social Security," Pelz said, with Gov. Chris Gregoire standing beside him. "If Mr. McGavick wants us to stop talking about Social Security, he has to quit talking about privatization of Social Security."

    There is no need, however, for McGavick to quit talking about privatization, because he never started. Say what you like about his suggestions to keep the system afloat, they are not what Pelz says they are.

    For example, McGavick calls for giving young workers a choice of three plans. One is the plan the government has now. Another would invest some money, and a third would lean more heavily toward investments.

    All three would be managed by the government, not by workers and not by Wall Street.

    That might be a lousy idea, and in the beginning it would be anything but a money saver. Setting up investment accounts would have a startup cost beyond that of paying benefits to today's retirees.

    But it is not privatization.

    Speaking of ideas, what is Pelz's proposal to keep Social Security solvent? Economists tell us that in a dozen years, less money will be coming in from the payroll taxes that finance the system than will be going out to retirees, and by 2040, the government will not be able to pay all the benefits owed to them.

    That makes now a good time to talk about tinkering with the system to keep it afloat. And McGavick deserves credit for doing that. But as he says, each time he does so the issue gets "demonized so that we can't even have an intelligent conversation on the topic."

    That's because people like Pelz apparently think that as long as you can demonize your opponents, who needs intelligence?
    And Michael Costello:
    Standing up -- for spendy gas

    "One senator is taking on the big oil companies," or so the advertisement reminds us, although this news might come as a bit of a shock to those of us who have been forking over about $3 per gallon of gas all summer. But there they are, sliding across our screen, scanned images of newspaper headlines about how Maria Cantwell has said some really, really mean things about oil companies, demanded investigations and advocated the creation of alternative fuels out of magic or something.

    Precisely how has this redounded to the benefit of Cantwell's constituents? The people who will be deciding whether or not she deserves a second term have been paying some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation. Unless her proposed alternative fuel technology can run on balloon juice, we're going to need her to make a better case. Grandstanding against the big oil companies has not done a thing to improve the supply-and-demand picture and therefore, the price remains at near historic levels. Washingtonians should really be asking: "Where are the results?"

    Smoke, noise and headlines aside, the last time I checked, gas prices were still pretty high. I paid $2.71 per gallon Thursday and counted myself fortunate. The last time I filled that tank, the price was almost 50 cents higher. For all of the standing up to big oil she's been doing, it's worth noting that gasoline prices are exceptionally high in Washington when compared to the rest of the country. In fact, the entire Northwest is an expensive place to fill a tank.

    Washingtonians pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation. In fact western states comprise the eight most expensive states to buy gas in the nation, with Washington ranking seventh. Our neighboring states of Idaho and Oregon rank third and eighth respectively. Hawaii and Alaska hold the top two positions with Utah, Nevada and California occupying the fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively.

    As we watch Cantwell's advertisement, we have to wonder why we should re-elect someone who has utterly failed to deliver results on the issue she has chosen to highlight.

    Dig a little deeper and you'll learn that Cantwell's "standing up to the big oil companies" is one of the reasons we pay big prices to big oil in the northwest. The West, and in particular the Northwest, suffer from a shortage of refinery capacity and Cantwell's most celebrated legislative success ensured that it stayed that way.

    The entire country suffers from a shortage of refinery capacity. Hurricane Katrina exposed that deficiency far more clearly than all of the social issues that gained press attention. Prices surged immediately after the storm and still have not recovered.

    Last year, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska introduced a bill that would have overturned a portion of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1977, which was inflicted upon us by the late Sen. Warren Magnuson. That law obstructs the construction of any new refinery capacity in the Puget Sound. Applauded at the time, the law was meant to keep oil tankers and their spills out of the sound. It's very popular. Not even Cantwell's general election opponent, Republican Mike McGavick, favors repealing the law. But if Cantwell is going to boast that she has stood up to the big oil companies, then she must also bear her share of the responsibility for higher fuel prices for many years to come.

    I personally would prefer a government that facilitates production and delivery of a commodity when the price is driven by market forces. Taking on the big oil companies is a fine strategy for creating shortages and driving up prices. And ironically from the liberal standpoint, choking supply increases profits. An honest Senate investigation would undoubtedly show that the little people Cantwell panders to are the biggest losers when government squeezes production.

    Cantwell would seem to be going all in with her chips betting that voters won't notice and call her bluff. Her cards would not show much.

    Sadly, she chooses not to run on her one real merit. She is one of the few Democrats who have not cynically and opportunistically sold out the troops after voting to authorize the Iraq war. But she can be forgiven considering how her party purged Joe Lieberman.

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    "A Vote for I-920 is a Vote for Family-Owned Businesses"

    A recent column from Don Brunell, President of the Association of Washington Business:

    It's every parent's dream to make life better for their children. For many business owners, that means one day handing the keys to the store over to a son or daughter. But too often, that dream dies when the owner dies.

    In swoops the state and federal tax collectors demanding their cut - the inheritance tax. Too often, that visit comes before the kids have an opportunity to figure out how to move beyond mom or dad's passing. There is payroll to make, loans to pay, deliveries to schedule, and people to hire, not to mention the stress of stepping into the shoes of a parent who spent a lifetime building the business one customer at a time.

    Often these family entrepreneurs are the backbone of the community. For example, in 1936, John and Gus VanderPol purchased Oak Harbor Freight Lines, a small Whidbey Island trucking firm, for $600 cash and assumed its debt. Their younger brother Henry joined them in 1937.

    Today, their descendants, Ed and Dave VanderPol, are co-presidents. Now based in Auburn, they employ more than 1,300 people from California to British Columbia.

    Over the years, the VanderPols have won several awards for safety and customer satisfaction, but they also have been recognized for their community service. For example, in 2002, Oak Harbor won a community partnership award in the Puget Sound area for transporting more than a half million pounds of produce free to 300 food banks and meal programs.

    Congress understands that family-owned businesses like Oak Harbor Freight bind communities together. In 2001, federal lawmakers voted to phase out the federal death tax over 10 years.

    But in 2005, Washington lawmakers approved a new state estate tax. While its supporters claim the state death tax targets only "the rich," people like Ed and Dave VanderPol will find themselves and Oak Harbor Freight in its cross hairs.

    The VanderPols aren't alone. The death tax targets a family's total assets, including your house, insurance policies, savings and investments like your 401k, as well as any vehicles, property and equipment. When you add it all up, the death tax's $2 million threshold doesn't seem "rich" at all. (There is an exemption for a family farm, as long as the family doesn’t lease it out.)

    The "death tax" is a killer for a family-owned business. The people hit hardest are those who worked hard all their lives to pay their bills and taxes, buy a home, save for retirement, and who, like John, Gus and Henry VanderPol, spent half a century building something to pass on to the next generation.

    To protect the dreams of people like John, Gus and Henry, family business owners and others pooled their resources and qualified I-920, an initiative on the fall ballot that would repeal Washington state's estate tax.

    Voters should pass I-920. By voting for I-920, people can show their support for thousands of home grown family-owned businesses in Washington whose jobs, payroll, and charitable works benefit communities throughout our state.

    Henry VanderPol, one of the family founders of Oak Harbor Freight Company, celebrated his 90th birthday in September. We hope he still has many years ahead of him, but voters can give Henry the perfect gift this November by passing I-920, ensuring that the dream he and his brothers began 70 years ago doesn't die with him.
    Here's a tip for Whitman County voters: Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories is a family-owned business. What happens to our local economy when half of SEL has to be sold off to pay the tax when Ed Schweitzer passes away one day? The death tax affects far more than just the "rich."

    I would expect to see the valiant members of PARD out promoting I-920, since they are so in favor of mom-and-pop businesses. Don't count on it though. As one local politician told me recently, "they won't spend a dime of their own money, but they'll happily reach into your wallet."

    Just as the Giant Palouse Earthworm ought to make you vote for I-933, the unfair jobs and business killing nature of the death tax ought to make you vote for I-920.