Aug. 28, 2013 - Letters to the Editor

Brad Skiff

Education is not about youth today

Omak School District 2012 principal: $8,215,811; interest: $1,606,911; total $9,822,722. Okanogan School District 2012 principal: $6,230,000; interest: $1,289,950; total: $7,519,950.

These are figures for the Omak and Okanogan School districts’ budgets from our county auditor.

With much scrutiny on the Okanogan County Public Utility District, which can be characterized as strategic and operational malfeasance, the two cities’ debt total and interest service are skyrocketing.

It is time that we look beyond the sacrosanct institution of public schools in a similar fashion that has recently been applied to the PUD.

Public education is no longer about students, it is about maintaining payrolls, union pensions, brick and mortar buildings and administrative salaries — all at the cost of a receding rate base by which to pay the bills.

James M. Miller


Tribal members need to step up

We have to step beyond the confines of our fears, “cross that line of comfort.”

Colville members need to expand beyond our fear, which keeps us tied to the behaviors of an oppressed people. Step up, quit allowing our evil and corrupt council to ride us in oppression. Break loose of their reins.

When we have been wronged, we need to make it right.

I am simply listening to my heart, passing it on to my mind, mulling it over and passing it on to you, sharing my sadness, my ponderings toward allowing ourselves to be an oppressed people, sharing my thoughts with you here today. We, as Colville peoples need to realize and then “own up” that most of us are doing nothing about our own council’s treatment of our Colville tribal membership — our elders, our youth, our administration and even to each other.

We need to think about what is going on. How can we be a part of change if we do not step up?

Participate in rallies, sign those petitions to recall and voice your opinions on forums why you decided to sign. Read tribal forums and offer your opinions, your suggestions. Ask a question.

Make your voice heard in tribal forums and newspapers. Step up my Colville tribal brothers and sisters, become a part of historical change being made on this, our Colville Confederated Tribes reservation.

Truman V. Covington


Okanogan County is mocking the law

Once again The Chronicle’s emphatic editorial is based on utter falsehoods.

In the editorial “Enough with the lawsuits already,” the Chronicle screams, accusing Conservation Northwest of a litigation spree. The first of your two examples is a four-year-old case involving the proposed Methow power line. Your claim that Conservation Northwest sued the Okanogan PUD is blatantly untrue.

It was the PUD itself that filed that lawsuit, actually against a number of local Okanogan residents including Dan Gebbers and state lands commissioner Peter Goldmark. Conservation Northwest merely intervened on behalf of the state to help defend against the PUD’s aggressive condemnation of public land.

If The Chronicle wants to suck up to the pariah PUD, good luck with that. But at least get your facts straight. In the case of the ATV lawsuit, Okanogan is the only county in the state mocking the carefully crafted new law allowing ATV access on certain roads. Your neighbors in Chelan and Douglas counties, for instance, are thinking the matter through with due care.

I understand that your job is to sell papers, and that stirring controversy helps get that done. But doesn’t journalistic integrity weigh in somehow?

Mitch Friedman


Editor’s Note: The Okanogan County Public Utility District successfully followed state procedures for use of eminent domain to obtain rights-of-way for both public and private lands to build the proposed Pateros-to-Twisp power transmission line in 2010. Later that year, in an attempt to reverse the condemnation process, Conservation Northwest unsuccessfully sued the utility when state Attorney General Rob McKenna declined to file in court over the issue.

Roads should be open to ATVs

As an outdoor recreational enthusiast and lifelong resident in Okanogan County, the impact all of us have on public lands we are so blessed to have is very important to me. The recent decision by two westside groups to sue Okanogan County over opening access to ATVs is reportedly necessary because of concerns over the environmental impact of increased access and concerns over safety on trails and roads.

Important concerns to say the least. Unfortunately a closer inspection of the motivations behind this pending litigation reveals the lawsuit is simply about reserving large tracts of Okanogan County public land solely for an elitist privileged few. The environmental concerns outlined in public comments by spokespersons representing the westside groups is weak at best. There are already plenty of rules, regulations, and laws preventing the abuse of public land by ATV users.

Yes, there are numerous incidents of great environmental damage by some ORV users and there will be more regardless of the court’s ruling.

There will also be significant environmental damage caused by people cutting firewood, hikers, cattle, horses, mountain bike riding, etc. In my own experience, just like horseback riding enthusiasts, mountain bike riders, cattlemen and public land managers, the majority of ORV riders are both thoughtful and exceedingly responsible. The safety aspect of the pending litigation is even weaker. I personally would prefer to meet an ORV on a narrow back country road instead of a three-quarter-ton pickup truck hauling a trailer (carrying the ORVs). Okanogan County is clearly in the right on this one.

The concrete matter of fact data of the economic benefits to rural communities is unchallengeable. We need to stand up and fight elitists who want to restrict large tracts of Okanogan County for their own personal form of recreational pursuits.

Chris Harlow


Lawsuits are not about outsiders

After reading “Enough with the lawsuits, already,” (Aug. 21) I have to think you know nothing at all about the Methow Valley. You claim it’s only outsiders opposing opening all our roads to ATVs. Yet, at public hearings in Twisp and Winthrop, the overwhelming sentiment of local businesses and residents was opposed to opening our roads to ATVs. We told the county commissioners that same thing at their hearings in Okanogan.

You also conveniently failed to mention that Conservation Northwest, your “outsiders,” is only one plaintiff in the ATV lawsuit. The other one is the Methow Valley Citizens Council. Since 1977, MVCC has worked to promote the rural and agricultural character of the Methow Valley.

Most MVCC members reside in the Methow or elsewhere in Okanogan County.

Additionally, Conservation Northwest has an office in Okanogan and many of its members reside in the county. Outsiders? Hardly.

The ATV lawsuit, and the lawsuit to force the PUD to rebuild the existing Loup Loup power line (rather than trashing public lands and using private lands taken unwillingly from local residents by eminent domain), have nothing to do with “outside control.” Just the opposite.

They are about Methow residents wanting to have our own say about development and growth in our valley.

You want to end the lawsuits? Easy. Tell the county commissioners to comply with the laws of Washington State. Tell the PUD commissioners to rebuild the power line over the Loup, as most Methow residents want.

Randy Brook


Letters to the editor policy

The Chronicle accepts letters to the editor of 250 words or less. Letters must bear the signature and hometown of the writer and a daytime telephone number.

Letters with multiple signatures or sent to multiple publications will not be considered. Letters may not include personal attacks or thank you messages. Letters are subject to editing.

Publication does not imply agreement or endorsement by The Chronicle. Letters may be mailed to The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, Attn. : Letter to the Editor, P.O. Box 553, Omak, WA 98841; dropped off at The Chronicle office, 618 Okoma Drive, Omak; faxed to 509-826-5819, or e-mailed to news@omak


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