Friday, August 3, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Failing our children

CPS needs an overhaul

Recently, I read yet another horrific story of another inexcusable failure by Child Protective Services. "Plea deal for mother in death by dehydration of boy, 7" [Times, Local News, July 15] told of a poor 12-year-old boy who was tortured by his grandparents in Tacoma. At least six complaints, citing abuse, were filed by the boy's teachers and school counselors to CPS. Three years later, there was still no response from CPS in regards to these complaints.

This little boy is hardly the first case to make headlines. In November 2004, Justice and Raiden Robinson died from starvation and dehydration at the hands of their mother. This was after CPS received six complaints against their mother.

There is also the case of 7-year-old Tyler DeLeon, who weighed just 28 pounds, the size of an average 2-year-old. Tyler, a boy so thirsty he ripped a hole in the screen of his bedroom window to eat snow, died of dehydration.

Then there is 2-year-old Rafael Gomez, whose caseworker, in 2003, simply ignored the abuse (exposure to cocaine and methamphetamine, broken legs, a skull fracture, cuts and burns) and returned the boy to his mother, who killed him.

I don't understand the leaders in this state. They engage in endless discussions, but do not seem capable of making the hard decisions, or accomplishing anything of substance.

Eight years after the Nisqually earthquake, Washington's leaders are still at the discussion phase of viaduct solutions. Traffic congestion grows worse each day, with no solution in site. But those things I can live with. What I can't live with is this same lackadaisical attitude when it comes to endangering our state's children.

I have to wonder where our leaders' priorities are. The Legislature had time to write and pass legislation concerning the gratuity charged in restaurants, but not a single piece of legislation to overhaul or dismantle Child Protection Services? Perhaps it's because those kids, who cannot afford lobbyists to line our representatives' campaign pockets, simply fail to matter?

How many of these stories have to come out before somebody does something besides pay lip service to it? There have been calls by the public for the overhaul of the CPS system for years. Politicians, including our state's governor, go on TV, acting appropriately outraged, making the same tired speeches calling for change, but those efforts wane about the same time the press attention does. What will it take for the outrage to become action? OK, governor, where is the change? What steps have you put in place to create this change?

-- Dawn Schink, Duvall

Rough ride

The roads are a mess

I was traveling on I-5 south yesterday, and thought, "How bumpy can a road get!?"

What a mess of a project that should have been done years ago!

And what is with all the steel art in the cement along the side of the road? Why is the state spending our tax dollars on stupid things like that, while the roads are barely drivable?

-- David McBroom

9/11 scrutiny

Asking tough questions

Alex Alben takes the side of conventional wisdom, and certainly the side that most citizens prefer to believe ["Debunking flights of fancy that hover over 9/11," guest commentary, July 25].

However, he misunderstands and mischaracterizes the 9/11 truth movement. He seems to be unaware of the plethora of books, carefully researched and cross-referenced (one such book, "Crossing the Rubicon," has more than a hundred pages of footnotes), that refute the official story.

Without digressing into "theories," another book, "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions," connects timelines and published testimony together in a way that demonstrates how the 9/11 commission cherry-picked certain facts that complied with their storyline, made up the rest, and ignored copious evidence that would put their story in doubt.

We should wonder why the majority of questions have never been answered, as some women widowed after 9/11 tell in their documentary: "9/11 Press for Truth."

It is the "debunkers" (including Alben) who fail to provide a coherent rationale for their conclusions and to apply journalistic standards in their investigations. Asking tough questions is not tantamount to holding a "conspiracy theory."

-- Leo Brodie, Seattle

Taking leaps of faith

Mr. Alben, I don't have theories, but I do have questions. Why have we not seen any images of a jetliner anywhere near the Pentagon? Given the security there, the size of the plane and at the low angle it must have traveled, surely there must be more-visual evidence than a few stills of a blur and an explosion from only one angle. This is easy to debunk if the evidence exists. I have a gut feeling it does not.

Mr. Alben, it is not a flight of fancy to ask questions. It is a leap of faith on your part to accept as fact something that is not substantiated by evidence that should exist.

When you refer to Joseph Goebbels and The Third Reich, remember the biggest and most unbelievable lies came from the government, not the media or the Internet. Using your own words: "Wait a minute -- how do you know that to be true?"

Answers and evidence will best honor the victims of 9/11.

-- Kevin A. O'Hara, Seattle

Road rules

License to bike

I have been frustrated lately by bicyclists' disregard for traffic laws. I'm not saying everyone that pedals breaks the law, but there does seem to be a sense of dual citizenship. I notice a lot of bicyclists running stoplights and stop signs. If car and motorcycle drivers are licensed, why not do the same for bicyclists?

If we were to require a simple "rules of the road" exam for people who want to ride on the roads, wouldn't it make all of us safer?

If we did license bikers, the fees collected could pay for many of the proposed bike-lane improvements proposed by Cascade Bicycle Club and other advocacy groups.

I'm sure some people will take great exception at the insinuation that bicyclists be tested. There is a backward belief that motor-vehicle drivers carry all the burden of knowledge. I hope the mayor gives thought to a bicycle-operator's license and let's see if city bike paths can be user-funded, just as roads are through licensing fees and gas taxes.

I would also like to see the Seattle police start enforcing the traffic laws across the board. So come on Seattle bikers, "share the road, share the rules!"

-- Kevin Sund, Seattle

Safety first

I appreciated "Some allege backpedaling with changes to bike plan," on the loss of planned bicycle striping on Stone Way North [Local News, July 20].

I use the street often as I work at a business near Stone Way and North 34th Street, and I'd like to applaud the Cascade Bicycle Club for its attention to this matter (and I'm not a member of the club).

All the street users (pedestrians, cyclists and cars) benefit when there is a clear, safe route for each of them. We, as a city, have an important civic responsibility to make our streets as safe as possible for pedestrians, cyclists and motorized vehicles, and it leaves me unimpressed with our city leadership that they would favor increased capacity of single-user motorized vehicles rather than safety for all people.

-- Kirk Mattson, Seattle

The quest to get healthy

Taxing trans fat

My input regarding the ban on trans fats ["New rules: Menus must say what's in your meal," News, July 20] is this:

As with cigarettes, we should add taxes to any food/drink that has artificial ingredients in it, and has gone through a processing phase that changed it's natural consistency (refined and bleached flour for instance, in addition to trans fats in margarine, etc.), and also for products that are predominantly made of sugar.

The tax should be great enough so the healthier alternatives, like milk, fruit and vegetables, finally will become cheaper than cookies, soda and chips. We will get a healthier population and environment (as less food will be processed using extra energy resources).

-- Ruth Knagenhjelm, Normandy Park

Public transportation

Crucial to cities

In support of the arguments made by Jim O'Farrell in "Eastside needs rail, not trail" [guest commentary, July 17]. I would like to add the following:

The absence of a strong public-transportation infrastructure based on rail may severely jeopardize the growth of the major businesses in the area in the not-too-distant future.

The Seattle area has been lauded for its great advantages in all aspects of quality of life. There is one exception, though -- transportation. The area could strangle on its own success if it relies purely on the automobile to ensure that people can get to and from work.

If a metropolis shall survive and prosper, the flow of people has to be quick, seamless and affordable. All larger cities in Europe and Asia have integrated rail systems connecting all of the areas where people live and work. New York could not survive as a major financial center were it not for the subway system.

Seattle is home to some very large and influential companies and they all have enormous growth potential, partly driven by the proximity to the Asian markets. If I were an executive in any of these companies, I would ally myself with all the other large employers in the area to work out a strategic plan for the transportation infrastructure needed for future growth. An expedient and sound transportation solution is critical for their future expansion.

I would propose that an executive group be formed by these companies, a group that would draft a plan for the future transportation scenario in the greater Seattle area based on the combined projected expansion of business.

-- Claus Windelev, Seattle

Priorities out of order

Shortchanging children

After spending more than half a trillion dollars on an illegal and unnecessary war that has resulted in the deaths of possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, President Bush has threatened to veto a bill that would give health insurance to children, saying that it wouldn't be fiscally responsible, and might put the government into the insurance business ["Showdown nears on health care," News, July 30].

I wonder who is paying for Bush's health insurance, or those of his Republican stalwarts? You have to wonder about a man who has taken the country from a budget surplus to a massive deficit through his tax giveaways to the richest Americans and his endless war, and who balks at spending pocket change (relatively speaking) to give health insurance to children.

How would he explain his decision to families that could not afford the medical treatment he just received, or that has kept Vice President Dick Cheney alive? That's a conversation I'd love to hear.

-- Doug Selwyn, Seattle

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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