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Levy support

As a former school board member for the Sunnyside School District and a long-time farmer in the Sunnyside area, I would encourage voters to support the special levy and bond issue on Feb. 3, 2004. It will help to keep taxes low and the quality of our school facilities and programs high.

/s/ Alfred Newhouse, Sunnyside

Racist allegations

I was saddened to see the cry of racism in last Friday's edition of the Daily Sun News. How disappointing it is to hear there are people who want to divide our community. And if they don't get their way, they stoop to playing the race card.

Should Councilmen Ricks and Vlieger been accused of racism? I don't think so. Let's look at the complaints that were levied against them in last Friday's paper.

The first letter was written by Samuel T. Martinez. He accused Ricks and Vlieger of using the "official pulpit to espouse their racist and divisive attitude regarding a positive economic development effort, because Hispanics are promoting a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce." These two councilmen were not trying to divide our community, they were trying to keep it together. It seems to me that Mr. Martinez is the one wanting to tear it apart.

Mr. Martinez went on to say "Spanish speaking business people in Sunnyside want to promote their businesses, as well as promote economic development in our community. It is "our" choice how we decide to do it. It is not the choice of racist leaders to tell us how to promote and develop "our" business." Again, who sounds racist and divisive? I thought that we were one community with diverse ethnic backgrounds. It sounds like Mr. Martinez want to segregate the community. I thought segregation was illegal.

He went on to allege that our city council has ignored the downtown businesses by not providing infrastructure for them, because they're Latino owned companies. What a crock! The city is providing the same sewer, water, power, parking, roads and other services to the downtown merchants that they provide to every other business in Sunnyside. If Mr. Martinez expects the city to renovate the buildings for him, he's looking for a handout in the wrong place. It is the responsibility of the building owners to update them. Perhaps he should look to them for his economic development.

The second letter was written by Carlos Maya III. Mr. Maya also considered Councilmen Ricks and Vlieger divisive because they didn't agree with having two chambers in town. He wrote, "I believe that forming a Hispanic Chamber is an answer to Sunnyside's Hispanic owned businesses." Again, why would he think the answer is dividing our community?

I have contacted our Chamber of Commerce and found that they have done many things to reach out to our Hispanic businesses. When Councilman Bengie Aguilar told our chamber president of her intentions to divide our community, M'Liss Bierlink tried to work with Ms. Aguilar to keep our business core together. But what did Bengie do? She set up a meeting with several Latino owned businesses here in Sunnyside, the president of the Pasco Hispanic Chamber, herself, and invited several members of our Chamber board to attend.

Talk about racist and divisive! Ms. Aguilar and her associate from Pasco informed our Hispanic business owners that they should only promote and do business with other Hispanic people. Racist? Divisive? You tell me.

All of the minutes from that meeting are available from our chamber. You don't have to believe me, you can find out for yourself what really happened.

As a member of the community, I am sick and tired of hearing this kind of rhetoric from people like Bengie Aguilar and her cronies who wrote the letters in last Friday's paper. We don't need this in Sunnyside. We have enough problems here without Ms. Aguilar stirring up the beehive.

I have been following Bengie's career since she was elected to the city council. She has done nothing but drive a wedge between the cultures of this city. If therre is a racist on the council, she is it. In the interest of our community, she should step down and shut up. If she wants to help the Hispanics, that would be the best thing for her to do. Then we could get down to the business of uniting and involving all the people of Sunnyside in bettering the community as a whole. Let's not attack Councilmen Ricks and Vlieger, let's applaud them.

/s/ Brent Cleghorn, Sunnyside

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