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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of July 25 - July 31, 2001

  Opinion Column

Unsightly signs also visual polution

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

With the "dark skies" light pollution ordinance now on the city of Ketchum’s books, the city is attacking another quality-of-life pollutant ¾ eyesore signs.

A new enforcement person, Danielle Hall, is preparing to go after creeping signage blight that can make a town look like a rundown collection of flea markets.

Visual pollution has been under siege for years. Lady Bird Johnson, spouse of the late President Johnson, was an early crusader for beautifying interstate rights-of-way and eliminating billboards. Enlightened communities were thereafter stirred to regulate the size and character of signs.

Ketchum planning and zoning administrator Lisa Horowitz believes sign regulations, now 30 years old, need rewriting, although other issues have higher priorities.

One of the first enforcement targets, happily, will be large "Rug Sale" signs that pop up on weekends at more than a half dozen downtown street locations.

Those who’ve volunteered as Salvation Army bell ringers at Yule time can be excused for suddenly souring on the Christian soldiers.

The Washington Post discovered a Salvation Army memo spelling out a deal with the White House: Christian soldiers would battle Congress for Bush if the president wrote a regulation allowing the Salvation Army to discriminate against gays in hiring while receiving public funds for "faith-based" programs, which, incidentally, is vaguely similar to the "Thousand Points of Light" created by his father, President Bush the First.

The Salvation Army also confirms it has hired a lobbyist for eight months at between $20,000 and $25,000 per month (!) ¾ plus "expenses" ¾ to soften up Congress.

So, here we have (a) America’s best-known do-good charity among the poor (b) looking for a political deal to legalize prejudice and (c) spending at least $160,000 on a Washington lobbyist to help persuade Congress.

After first denying the deal, the White House ’fessed up and killed it, presumably to avoid appearances that the "compassionate conservative" president and Christian soldiers were conspiring against millions of U.S. gays.

The image of struggling street corner Salvation Army workers with kettles asking for coins for the poor is replaced by the image of political wheeling-and-dealing.

This helps narrow choices for my modest charitable donations: the Salvation Army’s selective bigotry against a few of God’s children and ladling out handsome fees for political lobbying isn’t my idea of a charity needing my help.

Whenever President Bush is accused of turning back the clock (abandoning the anti-ballistic missile treaty, disengaging from global affairs, trying to legalize discrimination against gays in hiring, junking tougher clean air rules on carbon dioxide, etc.), he claims he’s trying a "new approach."

Now he’s studying how to transfer some Environmental Protection Agency enforcement to the states by eliminating 270 EPA jobs and sending the 50 states a paltry $25 million for enforcement.

"New approach"?

Relying on states to clean up the environment is the old, disastrous way: it was the unwillingness or inability of states to protect water and air quality that led to creation of the EPA in the first place.

Bush watchers expected this deal: it’s a payoff to onetime Texas bug exterminator and now House majority whip, Rep. Tom DeLay, who has threatened to abolish EPA, which he compares to Nazi Gestapo troops.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.