Monday, September 28, 2009

Prop 4 & the Notion of "Rights"

Here's an argument against Prop 4 that I saw on a blog. It's an argument I hadn't even thought of before:

"The Bill of Rights declares that persons have 'rights' to 'affordable' health care, housing, energy, to be paid a certain wage, and various other goodies on every leftist’s wish list. The trouble here, of course, is that all these goodies must be provided by other persons — health care providers, builders, energy producers, employers, *et al*. So a claim to a 'right' to such things entails a claim to the services of other people — to their time, talents, energy, and the fruits of their labor.

No one can have a 'right' to goods and services others must provide or produce. The notion turns the very concept of rights on its head: *rights* is the concept which protects each person in the possession, use and enjoyment of that which is his own — his time, his talents, his person, and the products of his labor, i.e., to those things he has acquired without inflicting loss or injury on others."

It's a very interesting and valid argument, and likely one I will add to all my other arguments against it. Just one more reason to VOTE NO ON PROP 4.

For more information about the fight against Prop 4, visit SaveOurSpokane and SpokaneJobs2009.

Why I'm Voting NO on PROP 4

I am absolutely voting NO on PROP 4.  At first glance, the Community Bill of Rights* proposed by EnvisionSpokane sounds great, right? Well, I'd suggest reading it in its entirety before you conclude that Prop 4 is a good idea.

Increased taxes to cover community health care, prevailing wages that will put many smaller companies out of business, tax monies going to pay for all the new lawsuits that will be filed against the city, new businesses looking to locate anywhere BUT here because of how much higher the price for doing business here would be, random bands of “neighborhood councils” vetoing everything proposed by the city.

Um, yeah. That sounds wonderful. Are you kidding me?

Breaking it down further...

The bill of rights states: “For residents otherwise unable to access [preventative health care], the City shall guarantee such access by coordinating with area healthcare providers to create affordable fee-for-service programs within eighteen (18) months following adoption of this Charter provision.” I heard one argument that this wouldn't take much for city staff to complete and that there would be fewer emergency room visits, which would lower costs.

First of all, it's naive to think that such a guarantee would not take hundreds, if not thousands, of staff hours to fulfill.  Also, I come from a family of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel and I can tell you that we've had as much preventative health care as anyone could.  But we’ve had family members in the ER for a number of different injuries and sudden-onset health issues. So if there were fewer ER visits overall, I highly doubt that it would be enough to make a dent in the cost of the staff time it would take to implement such a program.

Having to pay prevailing wage (which is the median pay for a given field in a specific location) for construction projects will significantly increase costs, not only for the construction companies, but also for any organization that is having a building constructed. I’m all for people being paid what they’re worth, but I don’t think that anyone should get middle of the range payment regardless of their skill level and work ethic.

According to the complete text of the documents filed with the Spokane County Auditor, the fourth duty that would be imposed upon the City of Spokane would be “providing legal defense for actions of neighborhood councils in vetoing land development projects,” which means that the City would foot the bill for all the impending lawsuits from businesses whose projects are vetoed.

And that leads me into my next point: Neighborhoods can veto development plans with as little as 15% of the people who voted in the previous election within the neighborhood limits. 15%! So if your neighborhood has 100 voting residents, you better hope that 15 of them don’t disagree with the other 85 or those 15 could cause a development project to be vetoed.

The bill of rights says “The City shall ensure the availability of low-income housing stock sufficient to meet the needs of the low-income housing community.” If low-housing doesn’t exist now, I’m curious where it's supposed to come from. Is the City supposed to build low-income housing? If that’s the case, what if more than 15% of the residents of the neighborhood the City wants to build said housing in are not supportive of the project?  Oh yeah! They can just veto it.

Part of the 9th amendment states: “Any person seeking to enforce the rights of ecosystems, may enforce these rights. Enforcement actions shall be filed as civil actions in a court of competent jurisdiction, against any person, government, or entity violating these rights…” While I absolutely agree that entities abusing our environment and ecosystems should be held accountable for their actions, it's ridiculous that someone would be able sue the City, an organization or an individual on behalf of the river, a patch of trees, etc.

The bill of rights says the City will be required to provide “sufficient funding to neighborhood councils for the creation, adoption, and enforcement of neighborhood plans” and yet there is no mention as to a dollar amount for such funding. It’s illogical and irresponsible to suggest something like this with NO indication of the amount, or of how the amount would be determined, or of where the money would come from.

I must admit that when I first heard about this citizens’ bill of rights, I was excited about the prospect of something that seemed so innovative. But upon further reading, I was extremely disappointed to discover how truly deceptive the language is in the bill of rights. I do think that a bill of rights for the citizens of Spokane is something I could vote for in the future, if it was developed in a socially-, fiscally-, environmentally-responsible way with language that is concise and transparent, and if it accounted for all details and outcomes.

I wish that instead of WASTING time and money promoting this joke of a bill of rights, and now more time and money fighting it**, the residents and leaders of this community were focusing on continuing to move forward in the POSITIVE direction we’re already headed.

I am disappointed with how many smart young people in Spokane have been duped by the smoke and mirrors of this ludicrous, flawed proposition.

I am a young, smart, environmentally- and socially-conscious business professional, wife and mother who was born and raised in Spokane.  I strongly feel the need to protect myself, my family and the city I love and I will VOTE NO ON PROP 4.  I ask you to VOTE NO too.

* Read an interesting take on the notion of "rights."

** For more information about the fight against Prop 4, visit SaveOurSpokane and SpokaneJobs2009.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Will Not Forget

It's hard not to think back to where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001.  I've heard it said many times that this event was my generation's JFK assassination.

I had just pulled in to the parking lot of Gold's Gym on the northside of Spokane where I was going to meet my best friend Tera for an early morning workout. I vividly remember us both sobbing on the elliptical machines as we watched the towers fall one after the other. (I will spare you all a recapping of the details, as I'm sure that you remember as well as I do what happened that day.)  From the gym, I headed downtown to work at Northwest Hair Co. where I was a receptionist.  We had the TV on all day and I continued my nearly uncontrollable crying.  I don't think I've ever cried more in a 24-hour period than I did that day. 

I lived alone in an area of town that is not-so-fondly referred to as Felony Flats so I never really associated with any of my neighbors.  But in the days that followed, I actually found myself spending time with some of them. One night that week there was a national moment of silence.  I remember sitting on the front porch of my apartment complex with my best friend and a couple of my neighbors eating pizza and reflecting on the events of the week and how it had impacted us.  We were all different ages and from different backgrounds and parts of the country.  We had four lit candles sitting in the center of our little circle - one for each of the targets in the attack; one for each of us.

I was only 21 years old and still in college on September 11, 2001.  I didn't know anyone who died in the attacks that day.  I didn't even know anyone who knew anyone who died.  But I was directly affected by the wars that came after the attacks.  Donnie, my best friend from high school, was a mechanic in the Air Force at the time and he was in one of the first deployments to Afghanistan.  He was gone for a year, leaving behind his wife and two-year-old daughter.  Barry, a man who is a close friend of mine and practically a brother to my husband, was sent to Iraq for a year instead of being able to retire after 20 years in the Army.  The stories of his experience there were horrible.

While my stepdaughters vaguely remember 9-11 (they were only 5 and 7 years old at the time), they remember their Uncle Barry spending time in Iraq.  I wonder how and when we will tell the twins about 9-11.  They really won't have anything to associate with it like the girls do.  But I want to make sure they have an appreciation for our country and the men and women who fight to protect us as soon as possible.

As I sit here writing this, I'm crying again. (I know. I can't help it!) My two-year-old son just walked up to me and touched my teary face and said, "It's OK, Mommy. It's OK." Then he gave me a big hug.  While I hope that someday the twins have some kind of an understanding of how we all felt that day and the same appreciate for our country and our troops that I feel, I pray to God that they never have an experience like 9-11 in their lifetimes.

The last thing I want to say is THANK YOU to all of the men and women of the armed services and their family and friends who support them.  My life and the lives of my children would not be the same without you.

Twitter Takes Me Places

It's official:  I'm heading to New York City to be a part of two social media panels at the E-Tourism Summit!  It's all thanks to the support I've received from the Spokane Regional CVB management team to make Twitter & Facebook work for our destination.

The Summit is October 13 & 14 at the Marriott New York Marquis right in the heart of Manhattan near Times Square.

I'm included in the list of speakers, complete with photo and speaker bio. Woo hoo! Fancy!

Chad and I have never been to NYC, so if everything works out as we hope it will he'll be coming with me.  He can investigate the city while I'm in session, then in the evenings we'll explore together.  And we're hoping to stay an extra day if we can make it work so we'll have a whole day together in the city.

Thank God for my parents' willingness to hang with the twins for 5 days & 4 nights. (Chad's parents will be out of town that week.)

We are so very excited! If you have any ideas as to where we should go/see/do/try, please let me know!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You have the Twin Gene? Um... no.

Have you ever asked a mother of multiples: "Do twins run in your family?"  Sure. I have too, before I actually had twins. When you really think about it, you're actually asking: "Did you use fertility treatments to get pregnant with twins?"

I don't get offended by that question - it takes a helluva lot more than that to offend me.  My mom, on the other hand, hates it when people ask her. She gets uncomfortable because she feels like it isn't anyone's business how we ended up with twins.  But I'm really pretty much an open book.  So in an effort to help others understand and maybe even help another woman feel like she's not alone in her plight to get pregnant, here's the kinda-short version of the story (I will spare you the gory details):

When I was in high school, I would have such horrible cramps and pain - it was completely debilitating. I would actually leave school and go to the office of my uncle, who was our family doctor for most of my life (blog to come about him later), to get a shot in my hip so the pain would subside enough so I could function normally.

By the time I was in my early 20s, my OB/GYN (Dr. Pam Silverstein at WomanHealth - she's AWESOME!) was convinced that I had endometriosis.  Other women in my family have had fertility issues, including endometriosis, so I wasn't too surprised that that was the prognosis.

By the time Chad and I were ready to start trying to have a baby, I had already had two surgeries to remove endometriosis and scar tissue. Thankfully, when we weren't having any immediate success, my doctor got very aggressive. She put me on Clomid, which is a fertility drug. After several months of increasing doses, we finally got pregnant.  It was really hard for me to believe because I never felt pregnant.  But we were so excited! After two blood tests confirmed it, we told everyone - family, friends, work.

Then after about two weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. I knew what was happening, but I tried to pretend like I was fine because I didn't want to face the fact that I was losing our baby.  When I walked into work the next morning, one of my co-workers and close friends, who had been through a similar experience, took one look at me and said, "Go to your doctor NOW."  Apparently, not only was I extremely pale, but the pain was written all over my face.

My doctor was out of town, but her partner Dr. Lewis Meline was wonderful.  By the end of the day, I was back home after surgery removing both our teeny tiny undeveloped baby and one of my fallopian tubes which had been severely damaged by the ectopic pregnancy.  It was the end of August 2006, and after all that, I felt like our chance to conceive had come and gone.  A month later we decided to give it one Clomid one more try with the dose they will prescribe.

I knew the moment I got pregnant, which was interesting to me since I really never felt anything the first time.  I kept it to myself till I had the home pregnancy test to show Chad.  We didn't tell anyone this time.  We had our first ultrasound at 5 weeks.  There was a strong possibility of another ectopic, so they wanted to rule that out right away.  Oddly, I wasn't worried.  I knew everything was fine.

The night before the ultrasound, I said to Chad: "What if it's twins?"  He laughed and told me I was crazy.  I had a strong feeling I wasn't that crazy.  Sure enough - I laughed out loud the next day when the ultrasound tech said, "Here's Baby A. And here's Baby B."  Chad almost fell over.

Apparently the Clomid had caused two eggs to be released either simultaneously or one shortly after the other.  It's entirely possible that the twins did not have the same conception date, but we'll never know for sure.  Twins with Clomid isn't all that uncommon, but the thought of having twins had never crossed our minds before.

Anyhoo... so to answer the question I set out to answer at the beginning of this rambling:

No, twins do not run in my family.  We had help in the form of prayers, God and Clomid.