Letters to the Editor
A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Summer sewer storm
Everyone should do their bit to keep our water system clear
Editor, The Times:
The gurgling drain in our basement during Monday's hard rain ["Thunder rolls through; rain to stay awhile," Times, Local News, Aug. 26] brought back fears of sewer backups such as the ones many neighborhoods suffered in December 2006 and again in December 2007. The sewer capacity of this region is sometimes exceeded during particularly heavy rain storms.
When these occur, we as a community need to refrain from adding to the problem. Don't flush, shower, run the dishwasher or do laundry when the sewer pipes are already full. At the height of the worst storms, wastewater has nowhere to go but into your downstream neighbors' basements. I assure you, a sump-pump filter clogged with bits of toilet paper is no picnic.
In hotter states, communities sometimes have to turn off air conditioners to prevent brownouts.
Here in the Northwest, let's get in the habit of leaving the plug in the drain or "letting it mellow" when sewer lines are likely overloaded.
Ideally, the weather service and forecasters would look at past sewer-backflow events to determine the threshold of rainfall per hour that our sewers can handle, then sound the alarm when that threshold is likely to be exceeded so that we can all take action — or rather, inaction.
However, since no warning system for sewers such as this currently exists, we need to talk to each other during hard rains to remind everyone not to add to our overloaded sewer systems.
— Scott and Kristin Ryan, Seattle
Federal wording, cont.
Kudos for counterpoint on reproductive health
Kudos to your editorial board for recognizing the dangers in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' proposed opt-out regulations for health-care workers ["A wrongheaded attack on reproductive health," editorial, Aug. 25].
By strengthening federal protections for those who refuse to provide or talk about abortion and contraception, the regulations would make it harder for women to get the health care they need. Federal law already protects a worker's right not to provide abortions.
Nevertheless, doctors, nurses and other members of the health-care profession are ethically bound to help patients make informed decisions about their health.
Now Health Secretary Mike Leavitt wants to protect those who withhold facts from the women whose health depends on them.
As a family physician, I have seen how important abortion and contraception are in keeping women, their families and their communities healthy.
Our country needs more access to reproductive health care, not less.
I urge the secretary to drop these needless, burdensome regulations.
— Suzanne Poppema, M.D., board chair, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Edmonds
In response, an official word
Health-care providers should be able to deliver care in accordance with their conscience and patients should be able to choose a doctor who shares their beliefs.
As the editorial correctly notes, over the past three decades, Congress has passed laws to protect the conscience rights of health-care workers and institutions. However, awareness of those laws leaves much to be desired, which is why the Department of Health and Human Services proposed this regulation.
I can attest to the need for greater awareness. During my years of medical training and practice as an OB/gyn, not once did anyone reference my rights under these laws.
At the same time, the proposed regulation in no way restricts health-care providers from performing any legal service or procedure, including abortion. In fact, it will improve the quality of care as people deliver care that they believe in.
Surrendering one's conscience shouldn't be a prerequisite to receiving a medical degree.
This regulation is intended to ensure that it's not, and that health-care providers and their employers understand and comply with those rights.
— Adm. Joxel Garcia, M.D., assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.
Inconvenient, yes, but sometimes necessary
I take issue with The Times' editorial of last Friday ["Don't strike, teachers," Aug. 22] which makes sweeping generalizations about teacher strikes.
Teachers never go on strike frivolously or on a whim, and do not use this "tactic" simply because we somehow know we are going to get our way if we strike.
I take offense at the suggestion that "prohibiting strikes doesn't harm the spirit of negotiations," and that "there is room for reasonable disagreement about salaries and other workplace issues."
I was in Marysville for the disastrously long strike of 2003, and as much acrimony that resulted from that bitter strike, if everything were the same, I'd do it all over again.
Going on strike prevented the School Board and superintendent from achieving their thinly disguised agenda of breaking the teachers' union, and instead led to the defeat of all three incumbent board members in the School Board election after the strike ended, with the subsequent ouster of the superintendent the following spring.
During the strike we heard complaints from the usual quarters about how the kids were being "harmed" by not being in school.
But is there anyone today who seriously thinks any of the children were irreparably damaged because they missed a few weeks?
In fact, I think most of the students in Marysville learned a valuable lesson that some things, such as the truth, integrity and especially one's own self-worth and dignity, are worth standing up for, even if it causes some inconvenience.
No one wants a strike, especially teachers. But taking this right completely away is unjustified and is against the very spirit of the rights that working people have fought and died for more than 150 years in the U.S.
Communist and totalitarian nations ban strikes: Do we really want to emulate their model?
— Matt Withee, Marysville
A supreme question
Clinton backers should remember the court
After watching a few "convention interviews" with disaffected Sen. Hillary Clinton supporters [" 'Cranky delegates,' lots of passion: Dems head into convention," page one, Aug. 24], I have two words to say to those Democrats who would consider voting for Republican Sen. John McCain: Supreme Court.
— Penny Koyama, Bothell
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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