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Thursday, December 23rd

READERS RESPOND TO ORCA STORY



This is a response to Berit Anderson's article "Orcas: Are We Loving Them to Death?"

I am not surprised by this recent article published under the auspices of "news". I find it interesting that Ms. Anderson is purporting to present an expert opinion and has no background in the subject she is expounding upon--other than the fact her father is the founder of Orca Relief. For years, I have ignored the postings of Orca Relief, but enough is enough. Ms. Anderson's December posting is not as accurate as the she would have you believe.
[more..]


Letter On Minimum Wage Increases


To the editor:

On January 1, 2011 Washington’s minimum wage will increase for the tenth time in eleven years. As Carl Gipson noted in his November 29th guest column , it’s going to be even harder for teens to find an entry-level job -especially with the state’s teen unemployment rate still averaging over 33 percent.

Washington’s minimum wage is indexed to inflation, which means the cost to hire and train entry-level employees like teens rises almost every year. For labor-intensive businesses with low profit margins, like restaurants and grocery stores, even a seemingly small increase in labor costs can trigger unintended consequences.

As customers continue to demand low prices, employers respond by cutting staff hours or positions and -over time- are forced to turn to more cost-effective alternatives like automation and self-service.

The consequences for the teen job market are clear: new research from the United States Military Academy at West Point finds that each 10 percent increase in a state’s minimum wage decreases teen employment by 3.6 percent.

Michael Saltsman
Washington, DC


[link]


Saturday, December 18th

Improved Cell Service A Bad Idea


Dear Editor:

A few of our County Commissioners are determined to help out the enormous US wireless industry by drafting a new ordinance that makes it easier to locate cell towers in tiny SJC. Bad idea C.C.! Improving cell phone service is essentially a form of manslaughter.

New data and studies show that texting and talking on cell phones are turning our roads into a bloodbath. The National Safety Council calculated that at least 1.6 million crashes are caused each year by texting and talking on cell phones, that’s 28% of all traffic accidents, over 10,400 killed.

From 2001 to 2007 cell phones caused 16,000 deaths on US roads alone. This may be only the tip of the iceberg - until cell phone records are routinely subpoenaed in accident investigations, we will not know the full extent of the carnage. Worse yet, the new laws prohibiting phone use while driving are having no effect. They may even be causing drivers to deny and hide their phone use, again obscuring the full extent of the problem.

The saddest part of this story is that most of the people killed and permanently disabled by cell phone caused accidents are young - mostly under 30 and predominately teens. That’s not to say that older law-abiding drivers can relax, you or someone you love could be the target of one of these speeding bolides with a texting teen at the wheel.

The wireless industry spends billions on advertising and so it’s not surprising that people now don’t feel "safe" without cell phone service. The human mind is no match for a well-crafted propaganda campaign. But as long as we are compelled to drive motor vehicles, cell phone service will shorten far more lives than it prolongs. To put it another way, cell phones do save lives, but not nearly as many as they ruin.

The best thing any community can do for its young people is to strictly regulate cell tower and antenna placement. Federal law gives us this right, and we should use it!

Steve Ludwig
Lopez


[link]


Wednesday, December 15th

It Is All Our Fault


Dear Editor:

Incredible revelation by Jon Shannon (Related Story ) that the problem with trash revenue is due to our collective island inability to generate enough trash to make the venture profitable. This is interesting, as the government has been trying to get us to reduce the amount of our trash by recycling and other measures for about as long as I can remember.

So the department grew as the trash grew, and when we finally started paying attention and decreased our volume of trash, we now get blamed for the fiscal problems of the SW Department. For some reason I am not seeing the viable logic here.

Hats off to Milene Henley for calling bs on the situation. Maybe we could increase the volume of trash with the some administrative jobs in the can.

Peter DeLorezi
San Juan Island

[link]


Tuesday, December 14th

Cute Boat, But..


Editor:

Thank you for the heads up on WSF (Washington State Ferries management) plan to present the San Juan Islands with the "Chetzemoka."

The current inter-island boat, the Evergreen State, carries 87 vehicles. The super-Class Yakima, Hyak, etc, carry 144. The Chelan carries 124.

The Chetzemoka carries 64!

So the cute little San Juan Islands should get the Cute little Chetzemoka.

Tell the WSF management to take this cute little 800 million dollar piece of waste and deposit it elsewhere!

Totally amazing is the "NEW" (cost a fortune) Chetzemoka is actually SLOWER than the ancient Super Class boats. (If it did 25 Kts the poor thing might have an actual net worth.)

Pete Groves
San Juan Island


[link]


LETTERS ON GAYLORD PAY RAISE


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Gaylord On Gaylord Salary Increase...

Dear Editor:

A portion of the prosecutor’s salary is paid by the state and a portion is paid by the county. The county’s portion of the prosecutor’s pay will not change in 2011; it remains at the amount set in 2007, almost four years ago. In my presentation on the prosecutor’s pay, I asked, and it was agreed, that any change to the county’s portion be done in steps, with the first step beginning in 2012.

In recognition of the county’s financial difficulty, I asked to defer any change in pay to 2012. This was the right thing to do and I proposed the change be made in steps to make it easier on the budget.

In counties small and large, the elected prosecutor and the superior court judge are appropriately paid the same because the work is comparable. In 2008 the state house and senate debated and then unanimously agreed with this approach. The governor also agreed, and the state now pays its portion of the prosecutor’s salary at one-half of the superior court judge’s salary. Today, one-third of counties in Washington State pay the superior court judge and the prosecutor the same, or nearly the same amount.


Randall K Gaylord
San Juan County Prosecutor
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Gaylord Salary Increase Is...


Dear Editor -

At a time when the State budget is being slashed beyond the point of "painful," at a time when the County has severe budget issues and essential services like Solid Waste are bleeding $15-20,000 per month, the idea that funds would be spent to give Mr. Gaylord a salary increase is shocking and verging on grossly immoral.

But we all know that.

I write only to remind readers that yesterday our leaders in Olympia took an extraordinary step to share the pain of the massive budget cuts they are having to propose. Governor Gregoire and the heads of state agencies all attempted to CUT their own salaries, in proportion to the cuts being extracted from every other corner of the state budget and educational systems. They are prevented from doing so by a state constitutional provision, but their response to that ruling was a noble one: they plan to give an equal amount to charity if they cannot cut their own salaries. Attorney General Rob McKenna is apparently planning to give his "salary cut" to a charity which provides care for foster children, who are particularly badly hit in this round of cuts. Sam Reed and others are selecting destinations for their cuts as well.

I also note that with the exception of Gov. Gregoire and AG McKenna, ALL of these agency heads and cabinet officials have LOWER salaries than the current one paid to Mr. Gaylord. At his current level of $129,000 (as published by the SJIslander recently), he is already better paid than the Secretary of State (who has many more responsibilities, including elections and the registration of businesses), and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (responsible for education throughout the state).

Even when not mandated, voluntary salary decreases are being discussed elsewhere. King County Sherriff's deputies just offered to roll back much of a pending pay increase, to help budget shortfalls there, in exchange for guaranteeing no layoffs so that police can maintain needed services. Our own SJC Council rejected any cost of living increases here in the county for themselves.

Everywhere in our state, our elected officials struggle to balance the budget and deal with the impacts of I-1053, I-1107, and a slew of other initiatives which hamstring our ability to pay for essential and desired services. Our appointed officials are stepping up and actually ASKING to share in the pain of budget cuts. Fiscal discipline and austerity is breaking out all over, on both sides of the aisle.

Except here, with our Prosecuting Attorney.

The citizens of the County may reconsider this raise by referendum, and we should do so.

But in the interim, we should also implore Mr. Gaylord to emulate Secretary of State Sam Reed, AG McKenna, and other public servants in voluntarily reducing their own compensation. In this case, Mr. Gaylord should tell the Council to rescind the raise he asked for, for the good of the County and its citizens.

You have a chance, Mr. Gaylord, to join state and county officials throughout Washington in doing the right thing. Or you can choose to be the counter-example to their leadership and self-sacrifice.

Please choose to follow their example. Do the right thing.

Mark Madsen
San Juan Island

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Reader Loves "Jingle Bills"

To the Editor:

Hats off to the anonymous member of the "Orcas Poets' Society". Love "Jingle Bills." Although the scenario is sadly true, and several off island, out of county attorneys have been hired to profer their expertise to solve our County's dilemmas; one must wonder whether or not the "out sourcing" could not, at the very least, have been accomplished by a local attorney, and in some manner benefit the local economy.

A Federal District Judge has a base salary of $174,000. Certainly not much of an incentive to encourage upward mobility of a SJC Prosecuting Attorney whose salary is but $26,000 less with no traffic. Whatever happened to "That's the price you have to pay for living in Paradise"???????

These out-sourced opinions and drafts will come with a hefty taxpayer burden, and should have been a legitimate function of our local SJC Prosecuting Attorney. An honorable man would offer to pay for those bills out of his more than generous salary, just as an honest contractor absorbs the cost of repairing his mistakes or short comings. After all, he bid on the job.

Peter Delorenzi
San Juan island poet
[link]


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