YOUR | LETTERS for November 9, 2011
Changes need to be made in our prison system
Millions of men, women, and children are incarcerated. Not unlike schools, segregation exists. People cling to those who closely resemble themselves. Division is based on race, social status, criminal activities.
In schools, there are jocks, nerds, stoners who classify each other daily, primarily to feel more valuable than others. Try to be different, it’s hard to break the barriers.
How can we break walls down? Many fail to see that when they accept one another, the barriers fall, and trust begins.
Given a purpose, reasons to succeed, people will succeed.
To really know people in prison, we must listen to their stories and dreams. Most want nothing more than a life of happiness with family and friends, the same thing that we all want. It’s hard to believe so many have gone astray.
Without strong support systems in the beginning, most come from a long litany of abuse and disappointment. Poor and/or with derelict parents, they often supported themselves by turning to crime.
Released, they have no employment prospects, yet need a fortune to get their rights back. Burdened with expenses that they cannot possibly afford, they are required to pay restitution or return to prison while housing, transportation, treatments, food, clothing and other necessities remain very costly.
We could help those returning to society. We could save millions of dollars. Release those children and those elderly to the care of families who want to care for them.
Does it make sense to require releasees to live in counties where crimes were committed when families located elsewhere are willing to help them succeed?
Does it make any sense to hold children without parole who were unable to make adult decisions when they committed crimes? To better understand these issues, and to help, see reentry information at http://www.whatcomrec.org.
We need to see more done for pedestrians
Question: When is a crosswalk not a crosswalk? Answer: When it is not labeled crosswalk in writing. When the painted white line path is nearly invisible (due to road angle.) When the onus is put on the pedestrian to stop traffic, in both directions. When the signage is inadequate. When cars won’t stop. When pedestrians have to run.
We have always needed a safe crossing at Lundeen Park, the largest park in the city, located at Lundeen Parkway and 101st NE, in Lake Stevens. This site is the widest, fastest, busiest stretch of Lundeen Boulevard, including retail and bus stops. The site is also on a curve that limits visibility coupled with a 35 mph speed limit.
Basically, a pedestrian can wait until traffic is clear both ways, but won’t have time to make it all the way across without running because cars are now coming.
Now that the two roundabouts that flank the site are complete, bedecked with landscaping, sculpture, and five pedestrian crossing signs apiece, there is finally a beginning to the crosswalk. So far it consists of the painted path and one sign on the right end of the path, each way. A yellow Pedxing sign, with a little arrow pointing down at that spot in the walkway, (indicating about how far a pedestrian could make it walking.) We need to lose the dodgeball mentality about public safety. These signs should be doublesided at the very least, because the blank backsides on the left of the crossing, each way should help show Point A to Point B. Motorists won’t learn to scan the whole crossing, left to right, without better signage.
A labeled crosswalk would legally compel motorists to react to people crossing. The no-tech, no-cost “experimental solution” of non-reflective plastic flags on sticks is so lame in this situation. What protocol is there for motorists who see dancing flags in the dark? It’s insulting that this “solution” still puts the responsibility on the pedestrian to stop traffic, in both directions.
A more positive fix would be to use solar powered white lights that can blink. They look like Christmas lights and catch the eye in a different way than signs. They can really demarcate the crossing by having them around the double-sided signs at Points A and B, and also laid out across the boulevard, on the borders of the walkway. They can actually be driven over.
We’ve seen plenty of improvements for motorists locally. It’s time to catch up for pedestrians too.
It helps to understand where campaign money goes
A recent call to get the money out of politics contributed to the Journal rang true with many readers, I’m sure.
It helps to understand this problem to look at the past and how campaigns were run once upon a time.
About 40 years ago I served as Treasurer for a candidate for the state house. He later won that position and served honorably for sometime. As I recall, the entire campaign cost was about $8,500.
The differences between then and now included 1- No TV buys which eats up huge amounts. 2 - No lack of volunteers to doorbell, make cold calls to get out the vote and help on mailings.
An active democratic party organization and massive help from active local union members were the main workers for those activities. Since then both unions and political parties have taken their lumps, unfairly so, I believe. They were the yeast which enabled our democracy to function.
Today, as it was yesteryear, most of the money a candidate spends is for getting your attention and letting you know what he or she stands for. As fewer of us are actively involved in calling, doorbelling, mailing or donating, the main way a candidate achieves that to a wide circle is with mailings, ads, public forums and newspaper accounts.
If you do not make your own effort to get to know what this person stands for and whether he or she meets your values, they must spend even more to impress you.
For this they need more and more money, especially since volunteers are ever fewer. This finally means more calls by the candidate to those with fat pockets who all too often have hidden agendas which accompany their donations. In a real sense, as Pogo put it “We have met the enemy, and he is us”!