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High gas prices drive everything up | Whidbey Letters to the Editor
Be careful what you wish for
Your Whidbey commuters story of June 25 contained a puzzling quote by school teacher Derek Hanson. Your reporter interviewed him on the the ferry to Mukilteo. Hansen rides the ferry for environmental reasons rather than, I assume, driving to his workplace. He stated that he hopes that gas prices shoot up to $10 a gallon so more people take advantage of public transportation.
Doesn’t he realize that the vast majority of people do not live where they can take advantage of public transportation in order to get to their workplace? Many commute from 5 to 50 miles or more to work. The doubling of gas prices approaching $5 has, in the past year, caused serious home budgeting problems as well as in the business community. Airlines, trucking companies, buses and even ferries are having to figure out ways to continue their operations at the same level as a year ago. Schedules are being reduced and employees are being laid off in order to stay in business. Many of our largest chain stores are closing local stores around the country. More people are looking for new jobs.
Our food, clothing, hardware, lumber, animal feed, etc., are delivered by trucks, railroads, and ships all using some form of petroleum as fuel. Do you think there could possibly be severe shortages of these products with $10 dollar a gallon gas? Do you think bus and ferry fares might have to increase to cover the rising gas price you hope for? The bus or ferry you now use might not be there in the future due to scheduling cutbacks. Could you still get to work? Be careful what you wish for.
Just politics, not leadership
Because of my interest in and reliance on our ferry system, and expecting some innovative ideas on ferry service affecting Whidbey Island, Port Townsend and the rest of Puget Sound from “legislative leaders and transportation experts,” I joined The Leadership Council’s recent telephone town hall meeting.
I was seriously let down.
What I listened to instead were political attacks directed at Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the one state senator who often, single-handedly, has championed a fiscally sound, well-managed ferry system. A volley of slanted assertions, catchy one-liners and quick fixes blamed the leadership in Olympia for getting everything wrong, conveniently ignoring two state representatives, both Republicans, who also represent Whidbey.
Not once did I hear about Sen. Haugen’s successful fight for a larger 144-car ferry design that will increase capacity on the South Whidbey-Mukilteo link by more than 15 percent.
Not once did I hear a single proposal regarding sustainable funding for the ferry system. Instead, there were those tired old ideas of repealing regulations that somehow prevent shipyards from bidding competitively, and of privatizing the operation, thereby solving all its problems.
Not once did I hear of the inadequacy of the “design-build” process when there is in fact just one shipyard in Washington State with the financial and logistical wherewithal to build ferries.
So it seems the telephone town hall was just a thinly-veiled attempt to heap all of the ferries’ problems on Sen. Haugen rather than seeking workable, fiscally sensible solutions. Little was offered in the way of constructive proposals to address the ferry system’s serious fiscal problems brought on by $30 car tabs, a fare freeze and the unprecedented increase in fuel costs.
Blaming Sen. Haugen isn’t leadership; it’s just politics, plain and simple. So while few fact-based, innovative or useful ideas were offered on the call-in, little was accomplished.
Franklin, Sagan agree on libraries
Why libraries? Benjamin Franklin explained it well when he described his proposal for his club’s library, the prototype for the nation’s first public library: “By thus clubbing our Books to a common Library, we should. . . . have each of us the Advantage of using the Books of all the other Members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole” (Autobiography).
Libraries are part of our commonwealth, and they are one of the mainstays of a democratic society.
Why expand Coupeville’s library? Because we’ve outgrown it. The library currently has .28 square foot per person in the Coupeville School District, and the standard is .5 to 1 square foot. Usage has increased: over the past 10 years, check outs have increased over 40 percent. We need more space for programs, collections, and computers.
As Ben Franklin pointed out, you’ll get more out of it than you’ll put in. If your property is assessed at $300,000, the cost per year (for 20 years) would be $21. One book can cost more than that. And, even if you never use the library, you can still be a proud promoter of learning. Everyone benefits from an educated, informed populace (except maybe despots).
A later American (Carl Sagan) said, “I think the health of our civilization . . . and our concern for the future can be tested by how we support our libraries.”
Vote yes on August 19th!
not so easy
Government: Running one’s harder than you may think, or at least that’s what 300 boys found out when they attended Evergreen Boys State from June 15 to 21.
Held at Central Washington University, it is a program founded by the American Legion with the intent to instruct young adults on the workings of our government and develop our nation’s future leaders, by establishing a mock government that included all positions from a city council all the way to a governor.
From experience we can honestly say the program was a success, for we both took on positions that strengthened our leadership skills and also enhanced our understanding of our government and how it functions.
Furthermore it instilled a greater sense of what it means to be an American, and we must say this couldn’t have come at a better time, with the Fourth of July soon approaching. With that being said we would like to give thanks to the American Legion, especially those in the Oak Harbor post that funded our trip. We extend this thanks to all veterans, and those that are serving our country for they are the ones that protect our day to day rights that we sometimes take for granted.
It was an honor to represent our high school at this one of a kind experience that was offered to us fortunate young adults.
Greg Goebel and Joel Valles II
Oak Harbor High School Class of 2009
Government’s not so easy