Med Flight sets it straight
Your brief paragraph [on the UW Med Flight helicopter that crashed last May] in "The Week in Review" for 1/23/09 contains several characterizations that must be corrected. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report released last week was an interim factual update, not the final report of "probable cause," and hence any conclusions drawn are premature and speculative, and are a disservice to the crew of Dr. Darren Bean, pilot Steve Lipperer and nurse Mark Coyne, the Med Flight program and its staff.
Steve Lipperer was in fact well trained and experienced in the use of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at the time of the crash. What is described in the NTSB report is the paperwork and recertification that had to occur in the transition from the previous vendor, per FAA regulations.
Second, at the time of the crash, La Crosse was reporting Visual Flight Rules (VFR), not "dense fog" as described.
Finally, our crew took the flight because the La Crosse helicopter was out on a flight at the time of the request, as were several other helicopter services in the region. Your statement that "two other helicopter crews refused flights that night due to the weather" implies that this flight was refused by two other services, which is not the case.
I appreciate your attention to setting the record straight and providing accurate reporting for the public.
Ryan Wubben, M.D., Interim medical director, UW Med Flight Program
What's the fairest tax of all?
In Paul Soglin's column about fixing Overture (1/23/09), he favors an arts sales tax because "sales taxes are fairer revenue generators than the property tax." This is debatable.
People with moderate incomes often spend nearly all their income, while higher-income people save more of theirs. As a result, those with lower incomes pay a larger percent of their income in sales tax.
Taxing property isn't perfect, but the bill usually has some relation to the wealth of the taxpayer, and therefore is more progressive.
Soglin also likes a sales tax because the property tax does not "capture income from visitors." This is false. Properties like hotels and restaurants have assessable value because visitors spend money at them. When a guest pays a hotel tab, some of the money goes to pay the hotel's property tax. Likewise for big-box stores, car dealers and other businesses that collect money from non-Madisonians.