Attack on us all
I have read various news commentaries from around the country about the killings at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Don Nelson’s editorial stands out as one of the most eloquent and moving ones. He reminds us that if we believe in democracy, in the freedoms that America used to stand for, we must believe in a free press.
Our cowardly president is afraid of the press. He calls it the “enemy of the people,” echoing the brutal Russian dictator Joseph Stalin’s name for anyone who opposed or even criticized him. We probably shouldn’t be surprised. Trump praises the worst of modern day dictators while attacking national leaders of our closest democratic allies.
The day of the Gazette shootings, Trump simply refused to answer any questions from the press. When he spoke the next day, he didn’t even mention the significance of it being an attack on the press.
Three-and-a-half years ago, two Al-Qaeda gunmen murdered 12 people at the office of a French weekly newspaper called Charlie Hebdo. Charlie was a satirical journal known for its biting, often over-the-top, attacks and cartoon caricatures of leaders of all political and religious views. Unlike the Capital Gazette, Charlie was not a “mainstream” or community newspaper. Nonetheless, within hours of the shootings, president François Hollande made a lengthy statement that included: “Today it is the Republic as a whole that has been attacked. The Republic equals freedom of expression . . . and democracy.” Major rallies for national unity followed within days. French people are not typically button wearers like Americans are. Yet French people were seen everywhere wearing buttons (and carrying signs) with the phrase “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). The attack on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo was felt as an attack on every French person, regardless of their religious or political views.
If we truly believe in freedom of expression and democracy, then we are all the Capital Gazette and we have all been attacked.
Randy Brook, Twisp
Pay attention to shorelines
Observant travelers heading toward Wenatchee may be aware of rapidly increasing clusters of large homes lining the Columbia River in Chelan and Douglas Counties. Have you wondered why such a development pattern is not yet visible along the Methow and Okanogan Rivers?
Until last month’s revision of Okanogan County’s Shorelines Master Program (SMP) we were the only county in Washington with an SMP that still prevented this development pattern within the rivers’ shorelines. Since 1976, developers of subdivisions have needed to create one lot along the riverbank, thereby preventing lot lines and fences within the subdivision from extending all the way to the river’s Ordinary High Water Mark. The requirement has now been dropped, and open areas along the rivers will be susceptible to fencing (could extend into high waters) and multiple homes closer to the river’s edge. This will affect especially the Okanogan Valley, where there is more undivided ranching and farmland along the river.
It was good to see coverage of the newly revised county SMP and history of the state’s Shorelines Management Act in the July 4 edition of the Methow Valley News. This ordinance had been off the public radar for years until now, since no public hearings have been held on proposed changes since 2015, and the county’s official six-member Shorelines Advisory Committee has not been convened for approximately 11 years.
The changes create an increased burden of awareness by citizens concerned with river passage and recreation, the river’s natural beauty, or human and wildlife access to the river. (“Visual” access from a subdivision is now considered adequate access.)
Opportunities for public input regarding any subdivision proposal in areas important to you can be easily missed if legal notices in the newspaper are not regularly monitored. The finer details of each subdivision will now have heightened importance and are available from the county if requested promptly. Unless any unanticipated appeal to the Shorelines Hearing Board intervenes, we will soon be seeing changes to our shorelines countywide.
Isabelle Spohn, Twisp
Thanks from Jamie’s Place
A big thank you to everyone who helped get us ready for our Jamie’s Place Ice Cream Social including Joe O’Driscoll/Food Services of America, AAU basketball players and coaches, AWANA and, as always, Daniel Ochoa, our “Everything Man.” And thanks to all who attended, learned a bit more about Jamie’s Place, helped with the garden mosaic, enjoyed beautiful flute music by Casey, Herb and Byron, visited with the elders, and got to know the staff and board members a bit better. We appreciate your support and interest in our nonprofit organization and the work we do to support elders in our community.
Jamie’s Place board members: Glenn Schmekel, Sue Peterson, Nancy McKinney Milsteadt, Carol Gaston, Rob Brooks, Melissa Larson, Laura Ruud
The real problem
I would like to respond to the issue of short-term rental. To be sure we have a crisis in affordable housing in the valley, but demonizing owners who rent vacation rooms and homes, particularly those who use Airbnb, is not a viable solution. Owners rent out their rooms and houses on the vacation market because they make money from doing so. For good or for ill, this is how capitalism works. It is also how tourism, which is the primary economic driver in the valley, works.
Airbnb is a convenient and affordable venue for owners and renters; that is why they choose to use it.
However, who is renting what to whom through which venue is a distraction. The real problem is that short-term and/or year-round renters are not paid at a level that enables them to rent at market value. Given the reality that seasonal workers earn low wages, are we suggesting that owners give their rentals away to the lowest bidder?
One solution is for employers to pay their workers a wage that will allow them to rent in the valley. Henry Ford said that he paid his workers enough so they could buy his cars. Ford was a wise and very successful businessman.
Another long-term solution would be to provide, build or renovate housing for employees. This housing could include rooms, PODS or studios, for example, with central, shared bathrooms and kitchens which would be made available to workers at affordable rates.
Brainstorming how business owners might provide housing alternatives would, I think, be a good way to begin this conversation on how to house their employees.
Julianne Seeman, Winthrop
Explaining wolves’ behavior
I was going to stay out of this whole “Forest researcher rescued by helicopter after being treed by wolves” thing (Methow Valley News, July 14), but when I read that local sheriff’s deputies were advised to “… shoot the wolves on sight,” I decided I’d better speak up – if only for the wolves’ sake. After a bit more searching, I came across what sounds like the most reasonable explanation for the wolves’ unusual behavior. A report in Northwest Public Broadcasting revealed that “biologists who visited the spot Friday to investigate the incident attributed the rare wolf-human interaction to the presence of wolf pups nearby.”
Surely, humans act a little abnormal when protecting their young from uninvited interlopers. Of course, to the wolves, an uninvited interloper is just what the fish researcher was (and for all we know she even smelled like fish to them). The point is, people shouldn’t get too hasty in their judgment of others’ (in this case the wolves’) actions. This whole outdated “shoot on sight” mentality is what almost drove wolves to extinction in the first place.
When I left this area 18 years ago, it was in hopes of seeing the wildlife – like wolves and grizzly bears – who had long since been wiped out in Washington. None of the wolves I came across in either Alaska, Canada or the Yellowstone area ever acted aggressive or defensive like the ones the fish researcher met. Much has been made about her doing everything right, but perhaps if she’d turned back when she first heard them yip and howl (instead of continuing on towards their den site) the wolves wouldn’t have felt the need to approach or tree her.
Jim Robertson, Twisp