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Thursday, March 22nd

Cattle Point Road Is Not Rocket Science

I recently read about the impending release of a 300 page Environmental Impact Report which purports to provide details on a 2.5-8 million dollar realignment of the Cattle Point Road over Mt. Finlayson.

As a retired forester whose duties included layout and construction supervision of logging roads suitable for the high speed delivery of heavy loads of logs to the mill, I am appalled at not only the cost estimate, but also the need for 300 pages to outline the impact on the environment.

Any civil engineer worth his salt could, with little more than hand tools, a few stakes and a roll of plastic tape, mark-out a reasonable road grade sufficient for a competent dozer operator to build 5,100 feet of two lane road base in less than two weeks. Of course this is an over simplification-dressing of the fill and cut slopes and placement of base rock, ditching, drainage and surfacing takes additional time and money. We're not contemplating the construction of a logging road and since the project lies within the National Historic Park, special care must be exercised. But $2.5-8 million (that's $5.5 million in wiggle room) is absurd.

This is not rocket science! As Mt Finlayson is composed primarily of glacial moraine there is virtually no hard rock to deal with. Construction can't be that difficult. And as pointed out in another article concerning roads on Orcas Island, the contention was that safety concerns should prevail over other design factors.

Consider the safety factors associated with negotiating an 11% grade during our occasional icy periods. And once again---why has there not yet been a thoroughly explained reason for not permanently fixing the root cause of the erosion at the toe of the slope by placement of heavy rip rap. I've only been told that it's too expensive and also that if rip rap were placed below the currently eroding location, then the problem would simply crop up someplace else.

Does this argument make sense? Do waves decide to attack someplace else if rebuffed at their first choice. Cost of the rip rap option has never been quantified so far as I know. Eight million dollars would buy a lot of boulders and there would be no need to molest the hillside by scratching out another road grade.

And don't we deserve to know how much tax money has already been spent on the years and years that have gone into preparation of the EIS? Aren't there more sensible ways to spend our tax dollars?

David Price
Friday Harbor


Wednesday, March 21st

Herb Meyer On Keeshan's Column: "Outsourcing"

Dear Editor,

I agree with Ron Keeshan that we're long overdue for a national look at the issue of outsourcing . But I'm not so sure that when we take that look, we'll reach the conclusion that Ron already has reached: namely, that outsourcing has destroyed the middle class.

Since the mid-1980s, we've lost 40 million jobs in the US. But during these same years, we've created more than 85 million new jobs, for a net gain of more than 45 million new jobs. (I realize that not all jobs are equal, but we simply don't have 45 million hamburger-flippers at work in the US.) This is more than ten times the number of new jobs created during these years in all of Western Europe, whose population is larger than ours. Also during these same years, we've created more than 23 million new businesses, while household cash savings have risen by an unprecedented 10-fold to reach $5.2 trillion.

I'm not suggested that those of us who comprise the middle class have it easy; the financial pressures are enormous. (By the way, Ron, President Bush -- whom you despise -- has cut taxes for the middle class while our county commissioners -- whom I gather you worship -- keep raising our taxes. Figuring out who's helping the middle class and who's destroying the middle class -- to borrow your phrase -- doesn't take a rocket scientist.)

In short, it simply isn't true to suggest, as Ron suggests, that the middle class has been destroyed. It's never been so vibrant and so financially successful. Just stand outside a Circuit City or a Best Buy store some Saturday afternoon and watch all the customers streaming out with their nifty new 42-inch flat-screen television sets. We just don't have that many millionaires in, say, Burlington and Bellingham.

There's one thing Ron and I agree about: Alaska Airlines is a disgrace. The clowns who run it should be fired. If Ron wants to lead the charge, I'll happily follow him.

Herb Meyer
San Juan Island


Thursday, March 1st

Volunteers And Donations Needed

Dear Editor,

I believe in planning ahead and in promoting life safety issues. Many current governmental regulations discourage and intimidate property owners, as well as make it expensive and difficult to cut or trim trees and brush on their own property. Trees and brush create storm and fire safety issues. This last year's storms caused enough loss of life and property damage to make this abundantly clear.

Many counties and cities currently have regulations that require property owners to hire an arborist before cutting trees, even if the property owner feels the trees are a hazard and are clearly endangering lives or property. Most property owners do not even know these regulations exist. When property owners do find out about these regulations, they become fearful and apprehensive about cutting or trimming their trees.

With that in mind, I filed a life safety and property protection initiative with the Secretary of State, Sam Reed. It has been approved by the state Code Reviser, Jeffrey T. Even, and has been given an initiative number of 958. The initiative text is as follows:

Text of initiative 958: An ACT Relating to safety; and adding a new section to chapter 70.01 RCW.


NEW SECTON. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 70.01 RCW to read as follows:
For the safety of human life and the protection of property, Washington state property owners have a right to protect themselves and their property from the hazards of wind and fire caused by trees and vegetation on their property. Property owners have the right to cut down trees or trim brush on their property without being encumbered or regulated by fees, licenses, permits or fines from any state, county, city or other governmental entity. These safety protection rights are limited to trees and vegetation located within an individual property owner's property lines, and limited to a distance of one hundred feet from the property owner's home, other buildings on the property, planned building sites, or utility lines located over or under the property. End
Code Rev/ML:rmh 1 1- 2056.1/07

I am looking for volunteers and donations to form a Political Action Committee to fund and pass safety initiative I-958. We need to collect about 250,000 signatures ASAP. I need your help. Please contact me on how you can help or to obtain a petition. Phone: (360) 378-3776, email:, address: Box 796, F.H., web site-

Frank Penwell
San Juan island


Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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