This is my opinion and I'm sticking to it

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Shall this submission be disagreeable or nice? For 10 years I have lived, worked, played and volunteered in the Snoqualmie Valley. Yet, I seem to regularly disagree with the majority of what I read on the editorial pages of the Valley Record, regardless of the topic. Don't get me wrong. I love the Snoqualmie Valley and was ecstatic when I moved here to learn there was not one, but two local Valley newspapers! It was a sad day when one of them folded. I like the Valley Record. The local coverage is still very unique, valuable and essential to the culture of our Valley. I respect and personally know many of the writers, reporters, advertisers and citizens in the news.

My disagreements with the editorial sections and some of the reporting is no secret! So I was surprised, flattered and yet taken aback when I was asked to write a series of guest editorials.

You really want my opinion? You really don't care what the topic is? You want it short and sweet? You want me to be thick skinned about the responses I will evoke? Well OK! But, my dad always said, "If you are going to burn a bridge, make sure you take a raft." So here are four candles and four rafts.

Candle No. 1: I disagree that the Valley Ghost Web site, which mysteriously appeared during the recent North Bend city elections, was terrible. I loved it! It provided an alternative medium (pun intended) for those who also disagreed. Some candidates and supporters felt slighted by the ghost, who chose to remain anonymous, even though the entire site was done with tongue-in-cheek humor. They expressed outrage at the establishment of the site itself and demanded a real live person to assault. Threats were made and now a lawsuit has been filed to forcibly uncover the identity of the Valley Ghost. Why? Hey, how many ghosts can you name? For punitive reasons, no doubt! Wait till the ACLU hears about this one. Ridiculous. What if the ghost is me? What if it was last week's guest editor? Where is the Valley's political sense of humor? I have seen editorial cartoons on this page far more stinging than anything posted on the site. Do you miss the ghost? Well, maybe it will reappear.

Raft No. 1: What if all the "Friends of Snoqualmie Valley" created a real live Web site of Valley opinions, Valley information and Valley history?

Candle No. 2: A recent guest editorial pushed us to buy locally. We should, but for the right reasons. I disagree that our downtowns are not succeeding because newbies won't buy gas locally. Week after month after year, gasoline prices are posted that are 5, 10, even 20 cents more a gallon than most stations in King County. Newbies can't be bludgeoned into shopping locally just to fill the businesses' profit margins or city coffers. We all, hopefully, know that not one single penny of gas taxes goes to city coffers! State law exempts every gasoline sale from Valley cities' B & O taxes. At those prices, I am not going to fill up locally. Fireworks or no fireworks. That's called being frugal, not refusing to shop in the Valley. Local establishments that offer unique products at reasonable prices will attract local shoppers. Newbies vest their life savings and families in Valley homes, Valley schools, Valley events and even Valley politics! Of course they care what happens to Valley businesses!

Raft No. 2: My bank account is in North Bend, I eat at the restaurants in Snoqualmie and I invest my retirement money in Fall City. Sorry, no first sons, I have two daughters.

Candle No. 3: I disagree that "the Valley must grow, and now, or it will die." This is a myth built on a continual development pyramid scheme, which will ultimately collapse. Growth can be good, but only if it is "smart growth." Only if it pays 100 percent of its own creation expense, and establishes enough tax base to fund increased maintenance demands. Only if it creates sustainable incomes for Valley residents, and provides 100 percent of the traffic infrastructure now, not in six years. Only if its impacts on the existing Valley environment are enhancing, not devastating, and it promotes, not degrades, the livability of the Valley. I especially disagree with North Bend's current efforts to come out of a growth moratorium by buying water from Seattle, thus raising current residents' water bills forever.

Raft No. 3: Read the proliferation of new research that shows open space, not growth, is the most profitable in the long run for cities. It costs less to buy Valley icons than increase taxes to maintain old and new infrastructure soon overwhelmed by continual new development.

Candle No. 4: I disagree that Tollgate Farm should be defaced by bulldozing the central meadow 1- to 5-feet down to provide flood storage, just so new businesses can be built in the flood plains across the road and in downtown. I disagree with the new farm plans calling for the building of two additional parking lots, four new ball fields, bridges across the middle of the meadow and concert lawns on this historic Valley icon. Yes, they are all greatly needed, but find another place for them. You can never make or buy another Tollgate Farm anywhere. As a local farmer said, "It's already beautiful. How can you possibly improve on it?" Cut the blackberries, put up some interpretive signs on paths around the outside and leave it alone!

Raft No. 4: The city is currently seeking public input on two plans. Visit North Bend library, City Hall or George's Bakery for a display and questionnaire.

I know, what a disagreeable fellow I am. Time for the Valley raft. I hereby announce the launching of a new medium. A permanent living Friends of Snoqualmie Valley Web site, at www.friendsofsnoqualmievalley.org It will contain Valley opinions, Valley information and Valley history. E-mail me with your contributions and I will post them signed or unsigned. Lighten up and enjoy the Snoqualmie Valley!

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