December 2003

Does America really have the safest food supply in the world? The Center for Disease Control estimates that each year over 76 million of us become ill, 300,000 are hospitalized and over 5,000 die, just from eating food contaminated with a food borne pathogen.

As I said in a recent op-ed What to do about

Idaho state government earned notoriety two years ago when it cut its higher education budget by 10 percent. As draconian as that was, however, Idaho’s college and university system has not seen the reductions that Washington’s has. In the Evergreen State, the cuts have been more gradual, but more relentless.

Too many Washingtonians are unaware of the depth of the wounds left by the budget ax. Too bad they weren’t all in attendance at Washington State University’s mid-year commencement ceremony Saturday.

There, onetime WSU student activist and current Regent Bill Marler leveled with graduates about what state government and voters alike have done to the school and its sister institutions. In Marler’s words, they have “more than turned their back on supporting higher education.”

As they have done that, programs have been curtailed, faculty salaries have slipped in comparison with other schools and student tuition has risen to the point that a higher education is, in Marler’s words, for “only the wealthy, only the privileged few.”

“This is not world class, face to face,” Marler said, in mockery of the slogan WSU adopted a few years back.

It sure isn’t. And the reasons for that are as varied as they are inescapable.

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About 50 people have submitted paperwork so far to recover medical costs and lost wages related to the hepatitis A outbreak at the Beaver Valley Mall Chi-Chi’s. Many of them have already been issued checks, generally for less than $3,000 each. Any claim higher than $3,000 requires review from either insurance companies or the bankruptcy