Letters for Dec. 21

Tough times will require tough decisions

I was alarmed to read this in the Seattle Times this morning (with regard to Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget):

“Class sizes in kindergarten through fourth grade would grow and about 1,500 teachers could lose their jobs under Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget, state Superintendent Randy Dorn said Wednesday.

For college students, tuition at the University of Washington and other state universities would jump 11 percent a year for two years, and by 9 percent a year at state community colleges. But the increases still wouldn’t be enough to make up for cutbacks in state higher-education funding.”

If you have read other stories, the governor also proposes cuts in social health & welfare, and she is proposing consolidating boards and commissions to help trim the state budget by $4.5 billion.

No doubt these are tough times and our legislators need to make tough decisions. The repeal of tax on pop and candy at the last election obviously hurt our revenue side a little, and no one is in the mood for more tax increases of any kind.

I am confident that we will make it through this tough economic period. But, we all need to be patient, and we must find ways to support K12, higher education and the elderly (and the young) without further burdening our already fragile economic recovery.

These are tough times and it will require tough decisions. But we will make it through — we have to.

Roger Daniels


BPA should better compensate

I am Robert Zumstein Sr. and we have an 85-acre tree and cattle farm in the Hayes District, 5 miles out of Woodland, that is not affected by any of these power line options. I am here to support my fellow tree farmers and others who are being impacted in a negative way by this project, be they in Clark or Cowlitz counties.

I am not opposed to the condemnation of private property by our government if its necessary, as without that we would have no railroads, interstate highways, major airports, etc. What I am opposed to is the taking of that property, without just compensation. Bonneville Power Administration’s offer of a one time payment, at fair market value, for the acreage in that right of way is not just compensation, but falls far short.

A comparison can be made in the long-ago unjust treatment of our Native Americans by our government. Could we get away with treating them that way today? This new power line to be built is going to serve tens of millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses over the next 200 years. Like the Indians, those few who are directly affected are being saddled with that loss so that the masses can enjoy adequate uninterrupted power.

The private sector, generating that power with wind turbines, pay the farmers on an annual lease basis, and they can still use most of that land to grow their normal crops, or graze livestock. In addition, the landowners receive a royalty for every kilowatt generated. Is not the transporting of that power to major substations just as important as its generation?

Just because BPA is a government entity does not give them the moral right to take advantage of their eminent domain powers. BPA is operating as a business and there is no reason why they should not match what the private business sector is paying.

I have heard people ask, “What about our property valuation loss? What about our peace of mind?” The answer is always the same, “Oh, BPA can’t consider that, the law only allows us to pay fair market value.”

I believe the old law that was created and put into effect in 1937 to enable BPA to build electric transmission lines across our country was written in favor of that government entity and today is grossly inadequate and outdated.

I say we need to seek out that old law, dust it off, then put the powers that be to work changing it to reflect realistic compensation, something that’s fair, just, and relevant to today’s business world.

Of all the giveaway programs our government is involved in today, for those who produce little, it’s a real slap in the face to those outstanding, taxpaying citizens, whom own the right of way you need to cross. I’m asking you please step up to the plate and allow the rewriting of that law to correct this injustice.

Robert Zumstein Sr.