Greatly appreciate the Olympia Highlights Column. All newspapers should print a similar column to promote transparency of government. It was interesting to note that in the March 25-31 issue that members of the same political party voted in opposition to each other on a particular bill. Most citizens assume that votes take place along party lines, which obviously they don’t.
Regarding your note in a letter of last week regarding the November elections: I think many of us have lost confidence in many government institutions, from the elections to the CIA to the FBI to the CDC and to the politicians and media, and certainly on the issue of free speech and big technology firms.
Internationally, our elections were treated as a joke. Foreign newspapers criticized the apparent chaos, the millions of unaddressed mail-in ballots, the length the time required to determine an outcome, the Dominion Voting Systems (which are registered as a business in Canada but not used there), the practice of ballot harvesting, and other matters. The court cases you referred to in your note were generally not heard in court at all, based on technical issues like court standing.
I think the real winner of the election was China, whose Communist Party, expects to supplant the U.S. economically and militarily in the next decade. Having a weak administration does not help us. Largesse will continue to flow to politicians, big business and the universities, with more control over us as a result.
I have a few questions. Have you met people in their 50s and early 60s who can’t wait to turn 65 so they can get Medicare? Why wouldn’t they want that care for their children? Why don’t we have a universal plan and why just restrict Medicare to seniors and those with disabilities?
This would take the pressure off businesses now paying up to 25 percent of an employee’s salary for health coverage for their employees. With a federal program that amount will be less. Imagine, they could give their employees a raise.
Why do so many people feel it’s OK for insurance CEOs to make many millions a year while these insurance companies deny care? The dozens of plans are so confusing it’s impossible to make an educated decision when deciding on a plan.
Wouldn’t it be so much simpler to have one plan for everyone from birth to death? We have social security numbers that stay with us over our lifetimes, why couldn’t this include healthcare for all? No co-pays or deductibles and premiums would be estimated to be no more than 8 percent of one’s income.
The inequity in our system has become even more obvious thanks to Covid-19. The need for healthcare for all existed before this pandemic but it’s an emergency now.
The money we save by streamlining and taking the waste out of the healthcare system could be spent on supporting a strong public health department that focuses on preventive health.
Blaine is negotiating a new police contract this year, along with several other cities. We need to make sure new contracts correct some of the problems found in previous agreements that hinder accountability.
We researched all the contracts using the guidelines of national organizations such as Campaign Zero to identify language that gives unfair protections to officers, sometimes setting up one set of rules for police in contrast to those for civilians.
The Blaine contract appears to contain three major provisions that deserve attention. It requires the city to pay for legal representation for lawsuits resulting from misconduct out of the city budget rather than the police budget. Plus, it allows unaccountable arbitrators to overturn disciplinary actions. This is common practice intended to be an unbiased solution; however, research shows this process is rife with problems and is often used to reinstate officers fired for misconduct.
There is a bill in the state legislature right now trying to reform this process. Until we see how that plays out, it is crucial contracts be improved so they do not rely on arbitration.
The third issue in the current contract allows officers unfair access to information, such as taped interviews, during an officer misconduct investigation. This not only sets up situations not afforded civilians, but can be used for costly lawsuits brought by officers against departments.
Negotiations on police union contracts this year are an important tool to ensure a more fair and equitable justice system. We cannot afford business as usual. Changing the language in union contracts is a starting place.
We have sent a full summary of our findings to the mayor and council members. You may also want to join us by signing onto this letter that will be forwarded to elected officials.
(To sign on, visit the Justice System Committee website at bit.ly/3m8fAJy).
Elizabeth Hartsoch, Justice Committee Riveters Collective president