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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

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October 31, 2008 4:52 PM

Proposition 1: light-rail expansion

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Ellen Banner / The Seattle Times

Sound Transit link light-rail trains sit on the tracks that run down Martin Luther King Jr. Way South between South Henderson Street and the South Boeing Access Road, as a Metro bus drives northbound on MLK.

Look to Brazil

Editor, The Times:

Pitting light rail against buses, as in Mike Lindblom's story, is a false choice ["Bus vs. Light Rail, Which One is Your Ticket to Ride?," Times, page one, Oct. 29].

I know. I've taken a ride on the world's most renowned bus-rapid-transit system, in Curitiba, Brazil.
What makes the Curitiba BRT system so effective? It is designed, built and operated almost like light rail. And if we were to do the same thing here, it would cost in the same ballpark to build.

The Curitiba BRT operates mostly on dedicated bus lanes, well separated from other traffic, with fancy "tube" stations. To do this cheaply here, you'd have to take all the bus lanes away from existing vehicles and go head-to-head with Tim Eyman and legions of irate drivers caught in massive traffic jams.

So we're better off with light rail where ridership is high, or where it will be high when a corridor is fully developed. We need to finance more buses where they are most effective: on secondary corridors as pseudo-BRT (mostly without dedicated lanes), as feeders to light-rail stations or for other local or suburban service.

-- Dick Burkhart, Seattle

Good for the economy

My name is Nathan Olson and I am a 19-year-old Everett Community College student who strongly supports Proposition 1 [light-rail expansion] ["Bus vs. Light Rail, Which One is Your Ticket to Ride?," page one, Oct. 29]. I believe this measure is critical to our way of life in the Puget Sound region and it will create much-needed jobs, promote choices of commuting and, most important, help our environment.

-- Nathan Olson, Everett

The right direction

What's rectangular, stretches 55 miles, can carry 1 million riders a day, and is white and blue? The upcoming light rail.

It is the alternative to rising gas prices and greenhouse-gas emissions, which pollute our world now.
The light rail can decrease traffic, provide a smoother ride than buses, can carry more people than buses and provide fewer delays.

The bus system is slower, not as comfortable and gets caught in traffic delays. Its diesel fuel pollutes and the cost of fuel is volatile.

The light rail will reach Lynnwood, north Federal Way and the Overlake Transit Center.

The light rail will cost more than $300 million a mile but it will be worth it. I think it is good to try something new; in the end it might be a very good investment.

All the major cities in Europe have light rail or subway systems and have proven very effective at moving people and reducing traffic congestion. We need to take care of the Earth; it is our responsibility. The light rail is moving in the right direction.

--Nicole Espe, Edmonds

Let's get it started

I sincerely hope we can continue to build and expand the light-rail system. For more than 30 years light rail has been held up by entrenched ignorance, inertia and obstructionism. Meanwhile traffic is getting worse.

We have just returned from Europe where we traveled extensively on the Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn. This system covers both inside and outside the city. The trains are quick, frequent and convenient.

We used the Vienna, Budapest and Prague systems as well. In previous years we have ridden on the excellent Barcelona system and the London tube and Paris Metro.

In March I was in New Delhi, where I saw the large construction project for their system, too.

So, wake up Seattle, King County and adjoining areas and lets get our system going as well.
We need it.

-- Michael Clarke, Redmond

We'll die in our diesel
Living in a region that has generally clean hydro-produced energy, it seems most logical to make any transportation system that does not use imported fossil fuels a priority.

I vote for trains, streetcars and expanding the electric-trolley system. If not, our economy could die in its diesel.

-- David Clifton, Seattle

Some of us still drive

The story by Mike Lindblom, "Bus vs Light Rail," left out the one thing all the planners seem to never want to consider: Where do we park our cars?

This should really be a consideration on the Eastside. I have very good service getting downtown on the bus from Redmond, but with light rail? In metropolitan Seattle? Are we serious?

-- Reed Hunt, Woodinville

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October 31, 2008 4:48 PM

Initiative 1000

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Don't quit your day job

I have grown tired of the expensive commercials featuring actor Martin Sheen opposing the properly labeled death with dignity proposition [1000].

The language used by Sheen as spokesman for the opposition is disgusting. Not only does the commercial invalidate the rights of any individual suffering enough to be classified as terminally ill, it virtually accuses any such person of potentially committing a criminal act.

Sheen and those who have financed his program have no right to invade the individual rights of people in agony. Moreover, they imply without saying that the right to end one's life might be forced upon those involved.

It is Sheen who is conducting an inappropriate campaign for those obviously paying lots of money for his efforts, whether he personally benefits or not.

In short, he should get out of the lives of those who are suffering and get back to acting.

-- Joseph Honick, Bainbridge Island

Good for insurance companies, bad for society

On the surface, Initiative 1000 sounds like a personal choice we may want. However, a competent, rational person who wants to end their life early will find a way to do so ["Washington's Initiative 1000 is modeled on Oregon's Death with Dignity Act," page one, Oct. 13].

We already have the right to refuse treatment; we have advance directives, we have sedation for the imminently dying. Patients gain the least from this law, HMOs and insurance companies benefit the most.
The 77 million baby boomers lurching toward their declining years will strain the profits of HMOs and insurance companies.

The original writer of the Oregon "death with dignity" legislation was an HMO executive.

HMOs and insurance companies have by far the most to gain from a Yes vote. Assisted suicide cheaply eliminates some of their most costly policyholders, thereby improving corporate profits.

Booth Gardner, the frontman for the initiative, admitted in the New York Times (12/02/07) that this is only a first step toward a gradual shift of the culture so laws with more latitude will be passed. "I wish we could do a more liberal law . . . We're not going to go farther than that now."

Stop it now.

-- Cassy Escalona, Shoreline

It could be you

From the time I was in seventh grade, to the end of my freshmen year in high school, I watched as my mom slowly slipped away, losing a horrible fight to cancer. It is hard to watch someone you love so much deteriorate right before your very eyes into almost nothing.

That is why I support Initiative 1000. I-1000 will allow for physician-assisted suicide and will give patients the option of taking away their pain and suffering.

The process of euthanasia is not a daylong process; in fact, the minimum wait time is 15 days. In those 15 days, the patient must be proved to be an "adult of sound mind," must receive approval from two qualified physicians, and they must have at least two witnesses present during the signing of the documents.

Every step in the euthanasia process is very meticulous and must be followed precisely with no exceptions.
I strongly encourage voters to overlook their political or moral views on Initiative 1000 and vote yes,
because in a few years it could be you or even a loved one who is suffering; and wouldn't it be nice to be given the option of determining how your life will end?

-- Ami Throckmorton, Mukilteo

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October 31, 2008 4:47 PM

WSU rallies for inclusion

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

There's a difference

Over the past few days I've seen a lot of coverage about the rally we had on the WSU campus in response to the recent hate crimes in the Moscow and Pullman areas. I was happy to see a story on your Web site, and grateful for how many news sources discussed it before and after it happened ["WSU students wearing red to support gays," News, Oct. 28].

Unfortunately, most news sources said the rally was in support of gay students. That is not accurate. We were in support of GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] students. It may not seem like a big distinction to some, but for members of the queer community, it erases most of our identities.

Several of these attacks were directly related to someone's gender identity or expression; that is rendered invisible when you call us all "gay."

Gender identity and expression are very different from sexuality. We're not just gay -- we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer.

I'd also like to mention many of us are allies [friends of the gay community], who have also been targeted this week. We're all working together to stop the hate, and we all deserve your respect and acknowledgment.

-- Meredith Williams, Pullman

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October 31, 2008 4:45 PM

Presidential race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Cut something else

America is at a crossroad and on Tuesday we will have to decide upon a direction.

I was among the 3 percent of blacks who voted for Gov. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Since her primary defeat, I had to reassess Sen. Barack Obama's message and concluded that his nebulous plans for social reform will place a greater debt on hardworking American families and compromise national security.

Obama promises a tax cut to the middle class at a time when our national debt is approaching $11 trillion and the deficit is skyrocketing. He also proposes nearly $1 trillion in new spending. To pay for this, he will increase taxes on wealthy Americans, cut military spending and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His Robin-Hood tactics and ending the wars will not achieve a balanced budget nor diminish the national debt. Does Obama honestly believe the rich won't pass their higher taxes on to consumers? Increasing taxes on the rich will be the same as a backdoor tax on low-income families.

Having been deployed to Iraq, I believe Obama's cut-and-run policy will only ensure that he will be tested by a terrorist organization, but at what price?

We started the mess in Iraq and we must ensure a stable sovereign government is in place to protect the millions of Iraqis who supported us.

Reducing our military will ensure an inadequate response in the event Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues his nuclear-weapons ambitions and attacks Israel.

But look at the other potential hot spots such as North Korea, Syria, nuclear-armed Pakistan, the resurgence of the Taliban and the growing threat of al-Qaida, and ask yourself if this is a good time to cut military spending.

-- Kerry Watkins, Lake Stevens

Aye aye, captain

A final thought about the election: One of the two U.S. senators running for president is going to be working out of the Oval Office soon. The other will be returning to his job on Capitol Hill.

Whichever candidate ends up back in the Senate, he is destined to play an important role in launching or opposing the new president's agenda.

Given the enormous challenges this nation faces, I hope it's the former and not the latter.

After all, winning an election is the easy part; governing is much more difficult. The 44th president of the U.S. is going to need all hands on deck.

-- Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Down-under is bombarded, too

Our news bulletins are mainly about the global economic crisis or the U.S. election. I find it hard to believe that many voters think Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim, a friend of terrorists and a socialist or a communist.
Even we down here at the end of the world know that Obama is a Christian, not a friend of terrorists and that he is neither a socialist nor a communist.

All he wants to do, as any other like-minded head of state should do, is spread the wealth.
Why should 1 percent or so of the population have 60 percent of the wealth?

I am with Obama on letting everyone share the good times. What's wrong with that?

The rich can afford to pay more taxes to help those less fortunate.

-- Robert Pallister, Punchbowl, Australia

Sounds fishy

Let me see if I've got this right: Sen. John McCain makes Joe the Plumber the focus of his campaign, but his name is not Joe, it's Samuel, he doesn't have a plumber's license but still calls himself a plumber, and he's worried about how much income tax he will have to pay if he ever buys the company for which he now works.

What's he doing at an Obama rally anyway? Sounds like the perfect choice for secretary of labor in a McCain administration. Unbelievable.

-- William A. Looney, Tacoma

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October 31, 2008 4:43 PM

Boeing strike

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Sold out again

I have been with Boeing for 35 years and an IAM [International Association of Machinists] 751 member for 35 years.

Once again, I think the union sold us out.

I am hoping the members see this and vote "no" to this contract. We have not gained one thing in this contract. They saved a few jobs but all we got was money moved around.

-- Jim Hoover, Edgewood

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October 30, 2008 4:02 PM

Disappearing Puget Sound orcas

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

AP Photo / Center for Whale Research, Kelley Balcomb-Bartok

A baby orca is seen swimming between family members of K-pod off the southern coast of San Juan Island June 3.

Save the whales

Editor, The Times:

As recently reported in The Seattle Times, seven resident orcas have disappeared from Puget Sound, almost 10 percent of the total population ["7 orcas, regular visitors to Sound, likely dead," Times, Nation and World, Oct. 25].

Orcas have been part of this landscape for more than 2 million years, but if this trend continues, they will soon be extinct.

In 2005, the southern resident orcas were designated an endangered species, an important step in stemming their decline. The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) fought the listing.

As critical as the orcas are to the health, economy and identity of our state, the BIAW sued to remove the "endangered" designation.

The suit was eventually dismissed, but what does this say about the priorities of the BIAW, and the candidate they so strongly back, gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi?

Washington state without orcas is unthinkable for most of us. But to survive, they need swift, effective action to restore salmon, remove toxic pollution and regulate vessels.

Gov. Christine Gregoire's commitment to cleaning up Puget Sound by 2020 is a strong step in the right direction.

Anyone who cares about orcas and Puget Sound should realize that a vote for Rossi and his backers is a huge step in the wrong direction -- a decision the orcas might not survive.

-- Donna Sandstrom, Seattle

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October 30, 2008 4:00 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

This isn't Monty Python

Radio advertisements featuring violins and reassuring words like dignity, safe and no mistakes, may cause us to lose sight of what Washington state's "Death with Dignity" initiative is really all about.

Initiative 1000 legalizes killing sick people. The image of Monty Python's medieval peasant exclaiming "I'm not dead yet" as he's whacked on the head and thrown atop a pile of corpses comes to mind.

The proponents of I-1000 use great words, but sadly have no idea what they mean.

When it comes to the word "dignity," the implied suggestion is that terminally ill people have already lost their dignity. But in truth, dignity does not come and go based on health and is certainly not found in suicide.

We are assured I-1000 is "safe," but suggesting that the most vulnerable people in our society contemplate suicide is really the opposite of keeping people safe.

"No mistakes" refers to Oregon's legislation and newest form of health care, which kills all its beneficiaries. I suppose it's only a matter of time before an Oregon doctor makes a "mistake" and is hit with a wrongful-life lawsuit. Oregon's law is the mistake.

-- Christopher Larsen, SeaTac

Let this choice be personal

My father was a hero, a decorated Marine officer who fought through three amphibious landings in WWII. He struggled for his own survival and for the protection of the soldiers who surrounded him. He often wondered what made his own life so precious that the Lord had spared him in the midst of so much horrific death.

Yet there he was six months ago at his 90th birthday party, telling guests that they couldn't leave without signing the petition for the Death With Dignity Initiative.

Why would a man so full of gratitude for the sanctity of life support such a thing?

Because by age 90 he'd seen so many friends and their families suffer heartbreaking illnesses. He agonized for those who suffered through that pain and fear all alone, without a family's support. He saw how carefully the law was written to prevent abuse. It creates the right to a reasonable choice of how to deal with end-stage terminal illness.

And although my father died peacefully and naturally soon after turning 90, he supported the initiative because he thought he'd need it himself.

Plenty of voices clamor to tell us this is wrong. For example, the archbishop found it in his heart to publish a four-page newsletter with all the associated costs to his flock for publication and mailing -- every word harped against I-1000. He then had the gall to claim "I am not telling you how to vote …"


It's a lie to claim you're not telling me how to vote. It's hypocrisy to use the church's righteous power and money only against this issue of personal choice. Lies and hypocrisy will always work in politics, but the truth of I-1000 goes far beyond politics and directly to the heart of our own lives and our precious loved ones.

Patients and their families who bravely choose to endure long illnesses, full of hope and faith to the final breath, deserve our respect, admiration and support. But their struggles should not be forced on others who wish to have the right, through their own prayerful consideration, to decide otherwise.

People deserve a choice, and I-1000 is crafted with the care and dignity that gives us all that choice.

-- Bill Walker, Bothell

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October 30, 2008 3:56 PM

Heading toward Election Day

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Obama's redistribution plan:
Don't kill the pig

Redistribution of wealth is a key element in Sen. Barack Obama's vision of change. It has been met with enthusiastic support by many Americans. Unfortunately, the redistribution concept is based more on an irrational hatred of those who have "too much" than on any likelihood that the lives of the recipients will be improved.

Russians tell the following story which bears an uncanny relevance to Obama's program.

Ivan, a poor Russian peasant, was working in his plot of land when he came across a vodka bottle. He picked it up and out jumped a genie.

"Ivan," said the genie, "you have found the magic vodka bottle so you are entitled to one wish. Tell me your wish and I will make it come true."

Ivan thought a while and said, "My neighbor Pavel has a pig but I don't have any pigs."

"So you want me to give you a pig?" asked the genie.

"No," said Ivan. "I want you to kill Pavel's pig."

-- Arlene Heath, Seattle

Don't let America be McCain's sixth loss

So Charles Krauthammer is supporting Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama ["Obama's associations are indeed relevant," syndicated column, Oct. 12].

Well, borrowing from the immortal Gomer Pyle, "sur-prise, sur-prise." Krauthammer would support a block of wood over Obama and he would concoct a quasi-plausible rationale listing the wonderfulness of wood: A nice-sized chunk of wood would be better than Obama in a fight and the chunk wouldn't say anything to upset the stock market in these trying times.

A couple of factors easily cancel Krauthammer's endorsement. For one thing, the intelligence gap: Obama graduated Magna cum Laude from the Harvard Law School whereas McCain was ranked 894th out of a graduating class of 899 at the U.S. Naval Academy. If McCain hadn't been blessed with a father and grandfather who were both four-star admirals he wouldn't have graduated at all.

Then there's the fact that as a pilot he lost five aircrafts. I don't think it would be easy to find any other pilot with that kind of record. Methinks pappy and grandpappy's statuses helped keep McCain flying. Not all those losses were held to be McCain's fault but the pattern is pretty obvious.

It doesn't seem wise to turn over the helm of our ship of state to such a risky driver.

America shouldn't be McCain's sixth loss.

-- Bob Wojtyna, Woodinville

Reichert or Burner:
one in a million

I agree with Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner on most issues more than I do with Rep. Dave Reichert, but I'm voting for Reichert.

Back when President George W. Bush had high ratings, Reichert stood up to him on the [Terri] Schiavo [case], stem-cell research and other high-profile issues. That shows integrity and courage that matters more than whether he has a D or an R next to his name.

But the main reason I'm voting for Reichert is because he brings unique and valuable experience to Congress. Most of the members of Congress are lawyers or career politicians, along with a few business people and veterans.

Reichert's decades as sheriff brings wisdom (and adult supervision) to the hysteria regarding how to handle terrorism.

Burner would be just another freshman.

Burner is obviously very smart and hardworking and I'd be glad to vote for her under other circumstances.

We are fortunate to have two good choices in Reichert and Burner. But where Burner would be a very good choice, Reichert is one in a million.

-- Greg Lovern, Bellevue

I don't like any of you

Dear 2008 election candidates:

Some citizens are thankful that the election is almost here and the campaigning can stop.

I have a different view; I am very worried about what you will do after the election.

Over the past 22 months I have watched, listened to and read countless political ads that look like they were created by the same PR company. Uniformly, these ads have taken quotes of the opponent out of context, distorted the truth, told partial truths and made or implied promises that are impossible to keep.

You all said, "I approved this message." It is sad that our elected leaders have subordinated their personal integrity and honesty in order to win an election, and the so-called agents of change who are challenging are behaving the same way.

While I am tempted to point out the most egregious of your lies and distortions, I won't because there isn't enough space in the whole of The Times to contain them.

There was a time I admired and respected elected leaders as accomplished people of the highest integrity. This was somewhat naive on my part, but I had confidence and respect for those leaders.

Now I see trainees with manufactured resumes, imaginary accomplishments and, worst of all, no real integrity that can be seen. I voted for some of you but I am not happy about it.

-- Ted Leech, Woodinville

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October 30, 2008 3:55 PM

Sen. Ted Stevens

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Time to step down

One would think an individual at the age of 84, whether a U.S. senator or not, would learn to take accountability for poor judgment.

Rather than taking responsibility for his actions, longtime Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, after being found guilty of violating federal ethics laws for failing to report gifts and services he received from friends, defiantly accused federal prosecutors of misconduct ["Republicans urge Ted Stevens to quit, but senator girds for re-election," Nation and World, Oct. 29].

Even I, a senior in high school, know the difference between borrowing an item such as a massage chair or keeping it for seven years.

Stevens has shattered the trust of the people and should do what any honorable individual would do: Step down.

-- Stephanie Conroy, Seattle

Gov. Palin's reaction: Oh please

Gov. Sarah Palin's comment that Sen. Ted Steven's conviction "shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state" is the classic Adam and Eve defense.

Adam wasn't guilty of accepting the apple.

Eve was guilty for offering it.

What a whitewash.

-- Shirley Bourne, Kirkland

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October 30, 2008 3:53 PM

King County budget

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We get to fix what you've started

The future depends upon the health and well-being of our people, and as youths and high-school students of King County we are inheriting this community from those who may be ruining it for us.

In the 2009 proposed budget by King County Executive Ron Sims, a suggested $19 million will be cut from Health and Human Resources. Cutting and reducing these services not only violates our basic rights, but it will also add a greater strain to our dismal economy. The lack of these essential services could possibly cause more homelessness and disease, poverty rates and unemployment rates, and increase levels of violence. The increases would have devastating consequences, including raising our debt when forced to deal with these complications.

Even with these risks, the county appears to have had no other choice but to cut or reduce these programs because there is no extra money. We have a $943 million deficit and it is not going to pay itself off.

How can we solve this problem without slashing funding for what may be the most vital services for a fully functioning society?

We must increase public awareness. Many people think the only reason we are in a budget crisis is because of the economic turmoil we are facing in the U.S., which has contributed $58 million to the deficit.

Another tremendous factor is that voters imposed new limits lowering property taxes, causing King County revenues since then to grow unsustainably by 4.2 percent while our expenditures grew by 7.7 percent.

If property taxes had been sufficient to sustain services, we would currently have an extra $135 million more in the budget. If the media increasingly emphasized the necessity of Health and Human Services, the public would be more aware of how their lowered property taxes are affecting our most-vulnerable communities.

In the 2006 budget speech, Sims stated, "The most fundamental duty for any government is to care for the health and welfare of its people."

Sims has not upheld this statement with the actions that may be put into place with the new proposed budget.

As youth still growing in our community, we hope our generation can fix what the past has started. Perhaps if more people listen and feel they have a voice, this situation can change for the better.

-- Amy Johnson, Sarah Talvi, Katie Yam, Seattle

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October 30, 2008 3:51 PM

Strip club near Safeco Field

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Don't ruin our hangout

Ever since anyone can remember, baseball has been a favorite pastime of the American family. They are events where fathers and sons, grandpas and grandsons and whole families come together.

For Seattle Mariner's fans it's a time to have garlic fries, fish and chips and crack peanuts with your son or grandson as they enjoy the game. But when a child comes home and talks about their time at the game, I am sure that no parent wants to have their child's highlights include the Deja Vu club that they walked by on their way to Safeco Field ["Strip club proposed near Safeco Field," News, Oct. 28].

No wonder the Mariners aren't happy. A new strip club right down the block is a detrimental blow to the classic American family hangout. The team is correct to say that the city should not allow a nude-dancing club to come into the vicinity. Not when there have been, and will continue to be, thousands of children filtering through the stadium.

An attorney who is arguing for building the club claims there would be no "garish signs" and that it would not be "a place where people would hang around." Well, if it's not a place where people are going to linger, and there's not going to be much advertising, then why even put it there in the first place?

This not only affects the Mariners, but also the Seahawks who are just a few blocks over, who also share similar values.

In addition to Seattle's professional sports teams, there are the local businesses to consider. What business wants to share a wall with a dirty, immoral, nude dancing club?

I commend the Mariners baseball club for not striking out on this one and maintaining their goal of a family-friendly environment and atmosphere at their stadium.

-- Jordyn Cline, Redmond

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October 30, 2008 3:50 PM

Boeing strike

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Unions were for the old days

There's no question unions were necessary when working conditions were deplorable.

However, allowing unions to strike against a company for their self-serving interests is archaic and our society shouldn't tolerate this action any longer.

I don't know if Boeing's union-workers view themselves as team players, but they shouldn't, since they take their ball and go home whenever they're unhappy. After the strike, the union must work on repairing the damage it has caused.

Are these the actions of employees to be valued? Wouldn't it be better if union employees focused on keeping a company competitive for everyone's benefit?

-- Conrad Rupp, Renton

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October 29, 2008 3:22 PM

Real Americans

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Kiichiro Sato / The Associated Press

Joe Wurzelbacher, or as Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain dubbed him, "Joe The Plumber," is campaigning in Ohio on behalf of McCain.

A day in the life of Joe the Plumber

Editor, The Times:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffee pot with water for his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging commie liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, Joe takes his daily medications. They are safe to take because some evil lefty bomb-throwers fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of Joe's medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some fire-breathing lazy-ass union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance and now Joe gets it too. Never would he turn it down.

He prepares his morning breakfast -- bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meatpacking industry.

During his morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko-troublemaking militant fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
Then Joe walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants limp-wristed freethinking [jerk] fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his workday.

He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some fire-breathing Viet-Cong-loving union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these high wages because he doesn't want his employees to call in the union.

So Joe benefits from what others have gained. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a workers' compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid-pinko troublemakers didn't think Joe should lose his home because of a temporary misfortune.

At noontime, Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC [Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation] because some godless-liberal red wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. He can thank that Stalinist Franklin D. Roosevelt for that.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal-student loan because some elitist pointy-headed liberal decided that Joe and the whole society would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. That's OK, but the bastards tricked him because he has to pay taxes. President George W. Bush will fix that, he tells himself.

Joe gets home from work.

He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car-safety standards.

He arrives at his boyhood home.

His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some government New-Deal Stalinist liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. Joe is happy to see his father, who is now retired. He lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating Marxist made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that over the decades the beloved Republicans have fought to defeat every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees with the talk-radio loudmouth: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives. After all, I'm a self-made man and a good Republican and I believe all Americans should take care of themselves, just like I have."

-- G. Thomas Cunningham, Seattle

We will never unite this way

According to Rep. Robin Hayes from North Carolina, I hate real Americans because I support Sen. Barack Obama ["Obama foes see election as elitist vs. real America," Nation & World, Oct. 27]?

I was born in Kansas of pioneer stock -- farmers for three generations.

My parents survived the Great Depression. My dad was in the Army during WWII; and my brother was in the Navy during Vietnam.

My husband and I raised three children in a three-bedroom house in a working-class neighborhood -- all are adults now and self-supporting.

I am a library technician. I assure you, those are average wages. I've driven the same car for eight years. I make quilts as a hobby.

I am a liberal. I work, accomplish and achieve, Hayes.

I don't complain about paying taxes. They are what ensure that my water is drinkable, my air is clean and my food is not laced with melanin.

We have had to work for what we have; although come to think of it, our kids went to public school and I check out videos from the library. Is that what makes me un-American? That I use publicly funded services like schools, airports and sidewalks?

Maybe there are two kinds of people: the kind who divide the world into two kinds of people and the kind who don't. I try to avoid making generalizations about folks who differ from me. I'd appreciate the same consideration from you.

-- Lindi Wood, Seattle

And he's a real American?

Your story "Obama foes see election as elitist vs. real America" left me shaking my head.

One woman was quoted saying, "A real American is the kind of person who lived in my old neighborhood. They all did the same thing."

The U.S. Constitution was established to, among many things, " … secure the Blessings of Liberty." Surely this woman is not clear on the concept.

In addition, to see Sen. John McCain as "one of us" seems odd. Here is a man born into an elite family -- both his father and grandfather being Navy admirals. He went to an elite school, the U.S. Naval Academy. He then joined an elite group, naval aviators. From there he joined an even more elite group, the U.S. Senate. Along the way he married money. He has never held a private-sector job.

McCain has a laudable background, to be sure. But he has never been the kind of real American who, as another woman in the article said, is a person who " … works 9 to 5 for an average paycheck."

These particular Barack Obama foes have drunk the neoconservative Kool-Aid. Impervious to logic and armored against facts, they will vote for McCain and against their own interests.

-- David South, Redmond

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October 29, 2008 3:21 PM

Religion and politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

JFK and the Catholic Vote

In September, 1960, in his famous address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, John F. Kennedy said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote." It has been generally agreed that that speech was the key that unlocked the door to the presidency for Catholics (at least for one of them).

Forty-seven years later, the Catholic Church is indeed telling Catholics how to vote. Was JFK lying? Or is the Church telling us that he was wrong?

I write as a former Catholic. I left the Church for good after the pedophile scandal. Even the scandal itself didn't drive me out, because one of the greatest strengths of the Catholic Church is forgiveness, and I saw the pedophile scandal as an opportunity for me to give back to the Church a little of the forgiveness it had always held out to me.

Wrong in one thing does not mean wrong in all, but by the Church's own rules, forgiveness requires contrition and penance, "a firm purpose of amendment." Instead of that, I saw the Church digging in, getting leaner and meaner, writing off American and European liberals; telling people how to vote. I hold the Catholic Church partially responsible for all of the disasters of George Bush's second term, for four years of casualties in Iraq, American and Iraqi.

Abortion has been a hot-button political issue for a long time, but from the 1970s through the 1990s, whenever the American Catholic Church gave us direction on voting, it acknowledged that other issues were important too, issues of war and peace, social and economic justice. In every election cycle, it seemed that one party was consistently right on economic and social justice, the other on abortion, a split that left the ultimate choice up to the individual conscience. The Church claims to base its decisions on eternal verities; what among the eternal verities has altered since the 1970s? At what point did God change His mind?

This is my plea to my former fellows: Don't let the Church tell you how to vote. Ask yourself a couple of questions: Has the Catholic Church demonstrated a fundamental understanding on issues of human sexuality and reproduction? Or, alternatively, has it occurred to you that if the bishops had had children of their own, they would have handled the pedophiles very, very differently? Is the Church's position on abortion exactly what you would expect as the product of some 60 generations of (arguably) celibate men with a deep mistrust of women's decision-making ability?

The Church has every right to support anti-abortion activists in appropriate ways. Everyone with a strong position on this issue has a right, maybe a duty, to advocate their position -- civilly. But when it publicly denies sacraments to politicians, when it casts the shadow of grave sin over its parishioners for the way they cast their secret ballot, the Catholic Church crosses a very important line, the line that has always separated church and state in this country.

That's when his Church makes a liar of JFK.

-- Jack McCarthy, Everett

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October 29, 2008 3:19 PM

Transportation: Initiative 985

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Contradictory and wasteful

I'm sure most drivers in the Greater Seattle area know how grueling traffic is.

My commute begins around rush hour on Interstate 5 as I make my way to school in the morning. With elections just around the corner, I wish I could join in to vote NO against Initiative 985 ["I-985: Tim Eyman puts the meddle to the pedal," Joni Balter column, Oct. 19].

My reasoning for opposing this initiative is simple. I-985 will make congestion worse, undermine safety and is unfair to rural residents. An analysis by Independent Transportation Engineers shows traffic worsening if I-985 is taken into effect.

Among other problems, if HOV [High Occupancy Vehicle] lanes are open to all, more highway crashes are at risk due to more vehicles in the lanes

The project would take millions of dollars from elsewhere in the state -- money that could be used for health programs and schools.

HOV lanes were made for a reason; this initiative seems to be contradictory and wasteful.
I-985 causes many strains to people all over the state, at a time when Washington can least afford it.

-- Hannah Maserjian, Seattle

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October 29, 2008 3:16 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Think radically

Sen. John McCain's last-ditch strategy is to brand Sen. Barack Obama a socialist for deigning to require the top 2 percent of the economy to pay its fair share of the tax burden, thus -- and this is the operative phrase -- spreading the wealth.

Clearly, McCain is counting on voters being stupid enough to equate "spreading the wealth" with some sort of pernicious left-wing coda. And he may have something there, at least about the stupid part: We are the ones who granted President George W. Bush two terms in office.

But isn't spreading the wealth, minimally, what taxes are all about? You give your money to the government, they spread it around to pay for roads, parks, Medicare and all manner of federal programs designed to benefit the taxpayer.

The false principle of taxes as socialism goes back to the founding of the republic.

On the other hand, it can be argued that slavery was the ultimate form of "spreading the wealth." The slaves surrendered the fruit of their labor in exchange for being allowed to live long enough to keep making their killers and torturers richer.

Spreading the wealth, from the bottom up at least, is as American as the belief in our own exceptionalism.
Obama is simply asking that those most capable of bearing the brunt do so, instead of unfairly tasking the poor and middle class. A truly radical agenda.

-- Rhett Gambol, Seattle

Good riddance

It has become obvious to all of us independent voters that what our country truly needs is a viable third party with a really good candidate.

In a country with about 2 million possible candidates, the two major parties have given us two lousy candidates. It's a choice of voting for the candidate with one foot in the grave, or the great speaker who is unqualified.

Both parties are equally corrupt and hypocritical. We're tired of the pure hatred from each party toward the other, particularly when there is so little separating them.

Our governor's race is an example of distortions and smears.

What's saddest is the brainwashed people on both sides of the aisle who automatically hate the other side and believe any rumor said about them.

I'm washing my hands of both parties.

Perhaps someone will start a party to represent the majority of the country in the middle, neither right wing nor left wing. If so, I'll be first in line. God help us all.

-- Craig Anderson, Issaquah

Say goodbye to civil rights

David Sirota spends an entire column criticizing the McClaim that Sen. Barack Obama's tax plan "redistributes wealth" ["Here's hoping 'White House Cribs' never makes it on the air," syndicated column, Oct. 27].

Lets face it, federal taxes are a part of life. Each of us must devote a certain percentage of our time at work every day to the federal government. For most Americans working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, one must work from 8 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. (if you are in the 20 percent tax bracket) just to pay the federal government before you can keep what you earn after that.

Some of us, who are in the 33 percent tax bracket, have to work from 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. before we can keep the moneys we earn.

This is simply the current state of tax affairs, and Obama proposes to increase the time the latter group is required to work for the government each day.

I ask Sirota, how is it fair to have some people work longer for the federal government than other people?

I would suggest that Sen. John McCain's "cynical calculation" is at best a redistribution of wealth, and at worst, a violation of civil rights.

-- Brian Hart, Seattle

We live in a material world

It appears that doing nothing discernible his entire adult life but campaigning for president is paying off for Sen. Barack Obama, as the vast majority of voters in the following groups will likely vote for him:

The 40 percent-plus of Americans who already pay no income tax, but demand more handouts; union members who want absolute job security as their employers go bankrupt; government employees and anyone else who benefits from higher taxes through earmarks or whatever; Hollywood, academia, the media and other fictitious places; those who want all kinds of things added to the Bill of Rights that (unlike the 10 that belong there) can only be satisfied by forcing someone else to pay for them; and those who don't recognize the danger of no checks and balances in the government.

About all that leaves is us taxpayers who have supported ourselves by working in the private sector to help create the wealth Obama wants to redistribute. Some of us have even been bamboozled into thinking that government can solve problems, rather than just subsidize them. It's amazing that Sen. John McCain gets over 10 percent in the polls.

-- Gary McGavran, Bellevue

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October 29, 2008 3:13 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Don't vote for Dino

In my 62 years of political observation, I have never seen such a sleazy campaign as gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's.

Having acquired $1.6 million from Las Vegas casinos, including $300,000 from Venetian casino owner Sheldon Adelson, $3 million from the Republican Governor's Association and another $7 million from the BIAW [Business Industry Association of Washington], it strikes me that running for office is all he's done the past four years, while Gov. Christine Gregoire was working to place Washington in the category of No. 1 best-managed state in the country, per Forbes ratings.

Rossi's ads are so twisted that he accuses her of taking tribal money to expand gambling, while she actually rejected the Spokane Tribe's bid to take gaming off-reservation in 2005.

My builder friends are beginning to rebel against paying L&I [Labor & Industry] dues to the BIAW's right-wing political machine, which supports causes they do not.

Don't be fooled: Republicans talk about smaller government, but they really want to control it and send public money to their private friends.

Gregoire will always be my hero for holding big tobacco accountable for the terrible pain inflicted on vulnerable individuals.

-- Dianne Foster, Bellingham

The right move

Folks, it's time to look past the stem-cell attacks and the BIAW. The Seattle Times showed wisdom in its endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. Whether or not you adhere to Republican values, most of us want balance ["Rossi for governor," Times, editorial, Oct. 19].

We've had one party in the governor's office for 24 years, and we have a one-party majority in the Legislature.

We are lucky to have a credible, reasonable Republican candidate in Rossi who has a history of working well with both parties. There's a good reason you probably know a Democrat or two who is planning on splitting their ticket for Rossi. This election, in this economic time, it's the right move.

-- Lisa Ivey, Bellevue

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October 29, 2008 3:12 PM

Bellevue parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Remove your fist

Bellevue government has been raking in millions of dollars from the development of downtown through enhanced property taxes and other income from utilities and money spent by the thousands of employees working in the new buildings. Bellevue should have ample income in the general fund to pay for the parks with no trouble at all ["Bellevue Parks, Yes!," editorial, Oct. 10].

Bellevue has become like Seattle, King County and the state of Washington; it just never seems to get enough money from the taxpayers.

It wants to stick its fist deeper into our pockets. I urge a NO vote on the Bellevue parks levy.

Let the city learn to manage with a limited budget just as we taxpayers have to.

-- Karl Wahl, Bellevue

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October 28, 2008 2:50 PM

Barack Obama's appeal

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

AP Photo / Amy Sancetta

Charod Barton, 12, of Akron, Ohio, cheers on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., at a rally in the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio on Monday.

It's happening

Editor, The Times:

What will a Sen. Barack Obama victory mean?

To me, a 66-year-old black man, it will be a testament that things are changing for the better in this country. It will give meaning to the American dream and proclamations of a free and equal society. That all men and women can truly be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. It will mean a new deck that contains fewer race cards is placed on the table.

African Americans will simply be Americans. Most will feel a new sense of pride in who they are and how, as a people, they have overcome and risen to equal status with all other Americans. They will feel they actually have a stake in the success and future of this country and will want to have a greater role.

Eventually, they will see the erosion of feeling victimized by the white power structure and society, replaced by the attitude that the future is in their hands and that they can create and dictate their own destiny.

It won't happen for everyone, nor will it be overnight, but for a significant segment of the population it will happen.

I feel fortunate to have witnessed this evolution, which I always wished for but thought would never happen in my lifetime.

The next generation's lives will be filled with much more positives than mine. Hopefully, they will take advantage of what has been presented to them.

-- James Watkins, Redmond

We need an upgrade

As Nov. 4 quickly approaches, I grow increasingly uncertain of the final presidential verdict, despite the polls.
Why? Because my Word document still insists on underlining Sen. Barack Obama's name as incorrect.

Perhaps that little red, squiggly line speaks volumes about a reluctance to accept change, no matter how universally beneficial.

I am voting for Obama not to fight a centuries-old injustice or to be on the right side of history. No, my vote is much more selfish: I am voting for the Illinois senator to fight an eight-year injustice and make sure we are on the right side of our future.

Our country deserves the change only Obama can deliver. He is the personification of the American dream, and I believe his election will ensure that this precious dream will be preserved for us all.

After our new president addresses our dire economic needs, I also look forward to a new lexicon for my Word program.

-- Richard O'Brien, Washougal

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October 28, 2008 2:48 PM

McCain's health-care plan

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Two important points
ignored in story

Your critique of Sen. John McCain's health-care plan neglected to mention two salient facts for the case where the employer discontinues paying health-insurance premiums for their employees ["Calculating what McCain's health plan would do," Nation and World, Oct. 24].

First, employees can decide to opt for less-expensive coverage, particularly if they are given the opportunity to choose from the much larger pool of insurance providers McCain is calling for.

The employer would also be able to give each worker most, if not all, of the $12,000 saved by eliminating their insurance premiums.

-- Bill Hirt, Bellevue

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October 28, 2008 2:45 PM

State of the union

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Liberty and chaos

Some see America as a temple to enlighten the world: "The brightest light in the sky."

Others see it as a tool to dominate the less-well-armed: "The biggest dog in the yard."

Some see America as a place where the government guarantees freedom and opportunity to all.

Others see it as a steppingstone to self-enrichment and personal wealth.

Some believe the Constitution, and the courage defend it, are all the "Homeland Security" we need.

Others believe "Homeland Security" means unlimited surveillance: "A camera at every crossroad." "Let no wire go untapped." "Create a national ID card." "Build a fence."

The last three decades have seen some huge changes in the heart and soul of this nation.

Some cheer. Others weep.

Some believe dissent is liberty. Others see it as rebellion.

Some believe both: "Liberty" is borne on the battle between "chaos" and "doctrine."

The victory of either will be Liberty's demise.

The question in this election is not: "What kind of America do we want?"

The question is: "What kind of Americans will we be when we get it?"

Define "Liberty" and you define "America."

-- James Moffat, Lynnwood

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October 28, 2008 2:42 PM

Transportation proposals

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Eyman's initiative
is worth a shot

The state and federal government had 50 years to solve the Puget Sound area's serious traffic problems ["Federal transportation officials say Eyman's initiative could be costly to state," News, Oct. 25]. They saw the congestion, lost work hours, frustration and host of other problems coming and to this day still struggle for workable solutions.

What makes them think we should even listen to the same government that allowed the current financial meltdown and economic calamity?

The government lacks the leadership and vision to solve the traffic crisis.

I say we take matters in our owns hands and pass Initiative 985. We have to try something.

-- Bob Hoyden, Renton

You're not the boss of me

The idea of two federal officials (Daniel Mathis and Richard Krochalis) threatening to withhold moneys for opening up the HOV [High Occupancy Vehicle] lanes during nonpeak hours should irritate enough people to gain passage of Initiative 985.

Mind you, I don't think it should pass.

I certainly won't vote for it. It creates more danger for our drivers. Go to California, and drive the HOV lanes during nonpeak hours. Then tell me that California's elected officials allowed that threat to work.

There are other states that have done the same thing. We paid for the lanes, and the federal government has no business trying to tell us how to run them. Tell Paula Hammond to research things like this with other entities that have them. Do not go to the federal government and ask if it's OK for us to govern ourselves.

-- Ron Highfill, Lacey

Opening up carpool lanes
is a bad idea

The $224 million that I-985 would spend is to open up existing carpool lanes to single drivers during "nonpeak" hours. The initiative defines nonpeak hours as all times except for the fixed hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only.

Opening up these lanes to single drivers is a bad idea at any time. During congested hours, carpool lanes reduce traveler delay by allowing vehicles with more people in them to move faster. During noncongested hours, traffic is moving freely in all lanes and there is no impact on congestion because there is no congestion.

Congested hours are different from route to route, vary from week to week, and occur outside the fixed hours in the initiative. Opening up these lanes would result in losing carpool lanes on some routes during congested hours, increasing total traveler delay.

I-985 allocates $224 million to implement the change, which would not only be wasted, but would in fact increase traveler delay. Washington voters should reject this bad idea.

-- Peter Smith, Normandy Park

Saudi Arabia
is rich enough

Tim Eyman's citizen petition to open HOV lanes to single-occupancy vehicles will be struck down by the federal government.

These are high-occupancy-vehicle lanes for buses, carpools and van pools. These were built to increase the capacity of freeways and to haul more people per hour.

Opening the lanes to SOVs [Single Occupancy Vehicles] would defeat these purposes, and only create more traffic accidents, air pollution and waste fuel.

The initiative also bundles traffic-light timing and roadside assistance, which is already being done.

Tim Eyman doesn't want to understand, there is a war over oil in the Middle East, and his persistent attempts to sabotage transit is only keeping the U.S. and Puget Sound more dependent on foreign oil.

Energy conservation and development of alternative-fuel buses is one of the major reasons for
development of a bus-express system. Like it or not, bus riders pay taxes also. His initiative will get the buses off schedule.

Gasoline cars are more expensive to drive and own than riding the bus. Eyman is doing a lot of damage to the local economy, and this will only help make the King of Saudia Arabia richer and us poorer.

-- Martin Nix, Seattle

Proposition 1 / light-rail expansion: Just do it

I am rather disappointed The Seattle Times does not have enough wisdom to see the need for expanding the Sound Transit light-rail system ["Reject Proposition 1's tax for light-rail expansion," editorial, Sept. 28].
We desperately need it and the arguments against it are weak:

"It won't relieve congestion." That is true, but Los Angeles built highways all over the place and they have some of the worst congestion in the country. Building more highways just makes more traffic. Nothing is going to make the congestion go away.

"It costs too much." Compared to what? What is the cost of building several more traffic lanes through Seattle? All of the options are going to be very, very expensive.

"It will take too long to build the new system." Again, does anyone really think that we could build more highways any faster?

So let's get realistic about rail transit. It is one component in a transportation system that we need. Rail is immune to traffic jams and will function even when the buses are stuck in the snow. Nearly every major city in the world relies on rail to provide the basis for their transportation system. So let's stop debating the need for rail and get serious about building it.

Once we get the system up and running we will wonder how we managed to get along for so long without it.

--Gary Maxwell, Lynnwood

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October 28, 2008 2:40 PM

King County budget cuts

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Help and guidance,
not punishment

I am concerned that our priorities are not in the right places ["Budget cuts force King County charging process to change," News, Sept. 25]. It seems that citizens are getting caught up in our county's lack of full-prosecuting power, while ignoring the plight of thousands of impoverished who rely on county services to survive.

Are we really more concerned that some minor drug users won't be labeled as felons, rather than that people will not be able to feed their families? Or about the thousands who will sleep without a roof over their heads, rain or shine? Or maybe we aren't as concerned about the abuse victims who will have to go without counseling because they can't afford it.

I think that it is about time for us to change our priorities from punishment to genuine help and guidance.

-- Sam Bender, Seattle

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October 28, 2008 2:36 PM

Election endorsements

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

So right, yet so wrong

Kudos to you on your recent endorsements. I totally agree with the endorsements of Sam Reed and Rob McKenna as they have a track of proven records year after year ["Rob McKenna for attorney general," editorial, Oct. 21; "Sam Reed should be re-elected," editorial, Oct. 20]. They have been very effective in their respective positions through their high level of integrity and community relations.

In terms of The Times' endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, it seems to be too biased and far-fetched to digest ["Rossi for governor," editorial, Oct. 19].

Rossi has been in oblivion since 2004 election and resurfaced very recently by his BIAW [Business Industry Association of Washington] allies and the leaderless state Republican Party touting his past glory as the state senator.

It is surprising that a premium newspaper like The Seattle Times overlooked his inexperience, ignorance and insincerity, which have been very clearly reflected in all his recent debates with Gov. Christine Gregoire.

His views on global warming are the latest example of his lack of knowledge and adaptability to changes and modern-day living for a greener world.

Just two days after being endorsed by your paper, he realized the severity of economic crisis on a national level and suggested that if elected he would have to postpone many of his key programs. This reflects his lack of self confidence.

-- Debu Dash, Seattle

Family planning depends on
choosing the right governor

Those who support gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor identify his fiscal conservatism as a key asset. Yet, Rossi's proposed tax cuts and road-building plan would more than double the projected $3.2 billion state-budget deficit. Only this week did he finally acknowledge such promises were untenable.

Meanwhile, in focusing so narrowly on Rossi's fiscal policies, voters are overlooking his extreme views on social issues. As a state senator, he voted against requiring drug-insurance plans to cover contraceptives.

He pushed to fund an abstinence-only sex-education program while voting against funding for low-income family-planning services. And he favors allowing pharmacists to refuse to sell FDA [Federal Drug Administration]-approved emergency contraception.

Unlike Rossi, Gov. Christine Gregoire recognizes the importance of a good family-planning policy.

Family planning reduces teen pregnancy, prevents abortions and lets people decide when and whether to have children. Gregoire has worked to provide age-appropriate, medically accurate information to students and funding for family-planning services to low-income families, services like those offered by Planned Parenthood.

Gregoire supports rules that require pharmacies to dispense emergency contraception. We need a forward-thinking governor, not one like Rossi with his regressive health-care policies.

-- Rejean Idzerda, Lake Forest Park

Correct your bias
in lieutenant governor's race

I was appalled by the blatant conservative bias in your profile of the lieutenant governor race this Sunday ["Quietly vying for the No. 2 spot," News, Oct. 26]. You gave ample description of Republican candidate Marcia McCraw's background, qualifications and motivations for running for the office. You even took the liberty of letting her describe herself as highly organized.

Glancing over her associations with the father of dial-a-porn, and her DUI [Driving Under the Influence], you spent lavish space instead on her divorce and her skimpy resume.

On the other hand, you skewered current Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, devoting paragraph after paragraph to inflated controversies, the most recent from 10 years ago. You gave no mention to his long career in the Senate or the fact that he is the longest-serving current lieutenant governor. You went as far as to survey the marijuana lobby on his anti-drug focus, which can hardly be called fair reporting.

As a sophomore in high school, I am proud of the work that our lieutenant governor has done to get the anti-drug message out to students. He makes it fun and engaging for students. I am extremely disappointed in The Times' bias and hope that it is corrected in the future.

-- Tucker Cholvin, Snohomish

Bellevue parks levy
not the top priority

I love Bellevue and how well-kept it is. It is always a joy to spend time walking through the streets and parks around there.

What I don't understand is how they can even be thinking about spending so much money on buying land and creating more parks when our economy is in such a questionable state ["Bellevue Parks, Yes!," editorial, Oct. 10].

Instead of focusing on beautifying Bellevue, it seems like it would be much more of a priority to make sure that the city is doing well economically.

Just the other day The Seattle Times was talking about how Bellevue has had to stop many building projects because of the economic crisis, and now here we are again, spending money that could be used more wisely.

It's not that I do not enjoy the new parks; it's just that there are so many more important projects that we could be putting our money into, especially in this critical time.

-- Erin Oostra, Mill Creek

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October 27, 2008 4:40 PM

KeyArena remodel

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Courtney Blethen / The Seattle Times

From left, Sherrie McCrorie, of Port Angeles, Ed Honeycutt, and his wife Lois, of Sequim, are dazzled by the "Falling Water Designs" display on their annual trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention &Trade Center in February.

Don't forget the convention center

Editor, The Times:

Recent news stories regarding the city's plan to address KeyArena and return the NBA to Seattle fail to mention critical facts about the funding plan that could affect the outcome ["Seattle wants to divert hotel taxes to fund KeyArena remodel, get NBA team," Times, News, Oct. 25].

The Washington State Convention & Trade Center is in the preliminary stages of a plan for a much-needed expansion that will rely heavily on the taxes mentioned in these news reports. The bulk of the 7-percent tax in question is dedicated to retiring the existing debt and would be the source for debt service of the expansion. It is uncertain whether these taxes are sufficient to fund both the convention center and KeyArena.

It is important that these taxes be used for their original purpose and that the convention center continues to produce revenues for the city and state

Our convention center is recognized as one of the best-managed facilities of its kind and its revenue per square foot is among the highest in the U.S. However, our facility is increasingly outsized by convention-center expansions in key competing cities.

We rank 68th in the nation and many lucrative meeting and convention groups have outgrown us. We're turning down more business than we're booking.

The convention center has engaged a team of professionals to study the feasibility, cost and financing strategies attendant to the proposed expansion. And, in light of current economic conditions, we have been analyzing the financing capabilities of this tax stream. When these studies are complete, I am sure our hotel-industry leaders and those of us associated with the convention center would be pleased to discuss possible solutions for KeyArena.

--Frank Finneran, Seattle

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October 27, 2008 4:38 PM

Bellevue parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Keep them new

If you wonder how important the park levy is for Bellevue, think of these noteworthy parks in notable cities: Grant Park in Chicago, Forest Park in St Louis, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. These are well-designed, unique parks that are old. They look and feel old. In visiting, I have often thought what a beautiful place these parks must have been ["Bellevue Parks, Yes!," editorial, Oct. 10].

Compare that to the Bellevue parks. Look at Kelsey Creek Farm: Here you have an old homestead farm with its animals and two barns, yet it is beautiful, clean and well-maintained.

The Bellevue parks are an extension of our backyards. They are where our kids play ball, where our families have picnics and where we often hold special events, like weddings.

The Bellevue parks levy will allow Bellevue to continue to maintain its parks as it has done over the past 50 years due to previous park levies. Our current park levy is running out. Without continued funding we'll have limited maintenance and growth. We'll find it hard to keep up the high standard of maintenance that we now expect, or to preserve the few green spaces left in our rapidly growing city.

-- Lynne Robinson, Bellevue

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October 27, 2008 4:37 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Don't undermine your beliefs

Anyone who is paying any attention for the past eight years realizes that the negative economic indicators (unemployment, financial-market crisis, energy cost, revenue shortfalls) are the result of the failed Republican policies in Washington, D.C., not Gov. Christine Gregoire as gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's ads incorrectly claim ["Rossi for governor," Times, editorial, Oct. 19].

These policies have forced states to find ways to fund essential services. Gregoire has done an excellent job considering all the reductions in federal funding to the states. Spending money on children's health care, higher teacher pay and market-salary adjustments to state-employee salaries is not throwing money away. It is investing in the people of this great state, which we all benefit from.

Claiming that Gregoire had her chance and blew it -- justifying somehow that Rossi deserves a try -- is insane. While he tries to change his stripes from Republican to GOP to get elected, he still believes these same failed ideas.

If you believe in change enough to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, then don't undermine that belief by voting for Rossi.

Let's see what Gregoire can do with a Democrat in the White House.

-- Michael Barr, Sammamish

We're almost there

It is not surprising that the Building Industry Association of Washington is supporting gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor. Both are anti-worker and anti-government regulation ["BIAW, Rossi's biggest backer, explains what it wants," Politics, Oct. 17].

Several years ago when building houses was a booming business, my husband and I spent weekends driving around to the new neighborhoods that were going up, looking to buy a home. We were quite surprised and puzzled to note that the workers did not speak English; it seemed that low-wage, nonunion, imported labor was being used at these work sites. We wondered why builders did not employ local-union carpenters.

It appears that the members of the BIAW are not supportive of strengthening communities by paying good family wages. I'm sure they love Rossi's idea of cutting the minimum wage.

The home-building contractors that the group represents have been part of this mortgage mess consuming our country. They became wealthy by overbuilding, and building homes that most working-class people could not afford. The BIAW has acknowledged that it wants fewer environmental regulations. Sound familiar?

Please re-elect Gov. Christine Gregoire, rather than return our state to the policies of President George W. Bush just as we are finally ridding ourselves of him.

-- Judy Bumbarger-Enright, Vancouver

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October 27, 2008 4:34 PM

Race for the White House

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Consider this

Recently, there has been much talk about the "Bradley effect" mentioned in your story ["Are white voters telling the truth?" Nation and World, Aug. 18].

Many people believe that because of the Bradley effect, Sen. Barack Obama will take a 4- to 8-point hit on Nov. 4 in relation to the current polls.

While this may happen, I firmly believe that this election will be unique in that there will be a surge of people under the age of 24 voting. This surge has not been considered in the polls and this will easily offset any casualties to Obama's votes because of the Bradley effect.

In 2000, how many kids did you see walking around wearing former Vice President Al Gore T-shirts? In 2004, how many songs and displays of art were made of Sen. John Kerry?

I think this newfound enthusiasm from the younger citizens in America will help carry Obama to victory this election year.

-- Jeff Bellesiles, Seattle

And the paranoia begins

It seems that Sen. John McCain's road to victory in the upcoming election gets narrower and narrower as the days go by ("The last dash -- and what it tells us," Politics & Government," Oct. 26]. After pulling out of Michigan a couple of weeks ago (without telling Gov. Sarah Palin) he has basically put all of his political eggs in one basket -- Pennsylvania.

Although many of the polls today have Sen. Barack Obama leading by as many as 10 percentage points, I'm still not getting the feeling that the election is safe for him. After hearing about the "Bradley effect," I can't help but wonder how much of a role race will play when people fill out their ballots.

Living in Seattle, racism isn't a very big issue. I know that this isn't the way people think everywhere in the U.S.

I guess we'll find out soon enough whether or not I'm just being paranoid.

-- Brett Cates, Seattle

Practice what you preach

Sen. John McCain likes to liken himself to former President Teddy Roosevelt.
However, Roosevelt was an advocate of inheritance taxes. He was concerned about the dangers to the American republic posed by concentrated wealth and power.

Former President Lincoln and Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt also supported an inheritance tax. They felt without such a tax America would move from democracy toward aristocracy.

In other words, three great presidents felt it was important to "spread the wealth" in America.

I recently saw figures stating that the top 1 percent of Americans have close to 40 percent of the wealth. A much greater difference, I'm sure, than when presidents Lincoln and the two Roosevelts expressed their concerns.

Sen. Barack Obama plans to cut taxes for lower-income people and raise them for those with higher incomes. In other words, he plans to spread the wealth. If McCain is truly a supporter of Teddy Roosevelt, he should congratulate Obama, but apparently feels it is more important to continually ridicule and mock Obama's plan.

So much for "country first."

-- Harry McAlister, Tacoma

America is a country, not a business

Has anyone at The Times noticed that Sen. John McCain has been telling us that he will not raise taxes and at the same time, he endorses taxing, for the first time, employer-provided health-care benefits.

As a card-carrying member of the "middle class," I resent what is, in effect, an attack on my financial health and safety. McCain's proposed programs clearly benefit lenders buying discounted mortgages at face value. The programs also benefit insurance companies and those employers too cheap and too greedy to provide health care for their workers while decreasing the tax burden of the wealthiest of Americans.

Nothing is trickling down here, the wealth is not spreading, it is leaving us and going to those who have more.

McCain has been running against what he tries to portray as Sen. Barack Obama's personality but his own campaign and proposed programs speak volumes about his own.

His campaign has been deceitful about taxes, among other things. If this reflects his personality, it does not speak well of him.

-- Marc DeMartini, Seattle

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October 27, 2008 4:12 PM

Capital punishment

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Listen up

Thank you for publishing the column by Leonard Pitts Jr. on the death penalty ["Is it too much to hope somebody will finally listen?," syndicated columnist, Oct. 26]. When New Jersey decided to do away with the death penalty I thought it was time for Washington to do the same.

The death penalty is biased by race, gender and class.

It is not a deterrent, it is much more costly than life in prison and it is wrong.

I hope and pray that Washington can come to this conclusion, too.

-- Marian Malonson, Hansville

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October 27, 2008 4:10 PM

Election season

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

The good old days

Won't it be nice when the election, with its disparaging political ads, is finally over and we once again can give our undivided attention to an overload of erectile-dysfunction pitches filling the vacuum.

--Thomas Frey, Kingston

Think before you vote

King County voters don't realize the repercussions their votes have on their fellow citizens. A story written by Kyung M. Song in early October explained that as the state's voters approved a flat rate in motor-vehicle tax in 1999, they eliminated a dedicated fund for vital services to the most vulnerable. ["Public-health agencies end up on critical list," Local News, Oct. 7.]

In addition to voting out the automobile-tab tax, a proposal to restrict property tax at 1 percent was approved in 2001. With a $93.4 million budget deficit for 2009, health and human services face huge cuts at a time when they are needed the most.

Voters need to look at the long-term effects of their decisions. If property taxes had grown with inflation between 2002 and 2008, King County would have an additional $35 million for the general fund budget and we wouldn't be facing the deficit we are in now.

With that money, we wouldn't need to make cuts to services that bring security or reduce poverty, and we would have a better economy.

When services are cut, homelessness will grow along with crime. And disease control and many other services thousands of people depend on will disappear. The only solution is to raise the taxes and look toward the future.

-- N. Bronte Neel, Seattle

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October 27, 2008 4:06 PM

Krauthammer on Obama

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Let's be real

I have always had a sincere respect for Charles Krauthammer. He has generally presented a reasoned and conservative argument in his column, without ranting and raving like his far-right colleagues. However, I fail to see much real value in his arguments against Sen. Barack Obama ["Obama, not McCain is playing the race card," syndicated columnist, Oct. 19].

"A foreign-policy novice"? Yet Krauthammer has consistently supported "foreign-policy novice" President George W. Bush's leadfooted, inexplicable foreign-policy bumbles.

At least Sen. Barack Obama has the self-awareness to choose a running mate who is perhaps the best foreign-policy adviser in the Senate, while Bush surrounded himself with neocons and isolationists who helped drag us into this lonely, useless war in Iraq.

As for the surge: Yes, it worked. It bought us more time, but not victory. The surge was intended to buy time and it succeeded. Where is Krauthammer's advice on what to do, long term, about Iraq? Where is Sen. John McCain's advice?

And, lest you think me starry-eyed over an Obama presidency, these "conservative ship-jumpers" are comfortable about jumping ship because they don't have to jump very far.

Their support for Obama is more like a jump back to the middle, away from the far fringes where the GOP has allowed itself to go over the last decade or more.

-- Toni Cross, Seattle

With a wet finger in the air

I have appreciated reading the different views espoused by Charles Krauthammer in past weeks, but I am sorry he hasn't "seen the light" like many of his other Republican constituents.

His misconstrued conclusions are frightening. Who do I want answering that proverbial phone at 3 a.m.?

Certainly not the man who acts on "instinct" alone to identify aggressors. A man he says "who doesn't have to consult his advisers."

In my opinion, Sen. John McCain put his so-called wet finger in the air and chose Gov. Sarah Palin -- a profoundly inappropriate choice as running mate for these perilous times.

For this lack of sound judgment, I believe Krauthammer needs to reconsider and rethink his conclusions about McCain, as so many respected Republicans have done in recent weeks. These Republicans are the ones I believe are thinking deeply of all the problems and possible consequences of this election. They are the ones who are putting their country first.

-- Margaret Keeler, Kirkland

Hang up the phone

Now that Charles Krauthammer has brought up that old, fear-inducing phrase, "Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.," I have just two words for him: Gov. Sarah Palin. I won't bother responding to a single other issue because it is enough to know that Sen McCain was willing to make an entirely cynical, political choice in order to win the race.

Luckily, it has backfired.

Even if McCain is the best person in the universe to answer the phone at 3 a.m., his age and health suggest he is willing to risk the country with one of the most unqualified candidates he could have chosen.

If Krauthammer doesn't want to risk that phone call on "a man who's been cramming on these issues for the last year," how about risking America on someone who knows nothing about the position of vice president, thinks real Americans are only people like her and Todd [Palin's husband], has no awareness of the tremendous medical value of fruit-fly research, and is willing to use her high-school, mean-girl charisma to present her opinions.

-- Harriet Husbands, Seattle

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October 27, 2008 4:05 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Allow me the freedom

I am tired of all the lies being spread about "death with dignity" (Initiative 1000) ["Death with dignity: approve I-1000," editorial, Oct. 5].

This measure simply allows doctors to prescribe medication for those terminally ill, competent adults who choose to end their lives earlier than the six months predicted by two examining physicians.

No assault on the disabled, no euthanasia, no "slippery slope" to some nefarious deeds.

I want this freedom to make my own medical decisions when my time comes.

-- Anne Thureson, Renton

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October 26, 2008 7:07 PM

Colin Powell's Obama endorsement

Posted by Kate Riley

Associated Press

Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press.

Marxism didn't work the first time

Editor, The Times:

Maureen Dowd says Gen. Colin Powell is justified in supporting Sen. Barack Obama because Republicans were claiming that spreading the wealth was socialism ["The Muslim who moved Powell," Times, syndicated columnist, Oct. 23]. Dowd asserts that the purpose of taxes is to spread the wealth. Can she really believe that?

The doctrine of spreading the wealth is fundamental to Marxist economics. We all know what a miserable failure Marxist-style governments were in the Soviet Union and present-day Cuba and Korea. Is that what we want for America?

The greatness of our country lies in the concept of government with limited powers as set forth in the Constitution. England's abuse of its power to tax played a large role in instigating the Revolutionary War.
Freeing ourselves of colonialism allowed us to become the freest nation on earth. Our Constitution spells out the limited powers of our government, such as national defense, and permits taxes to be raised to support the exercise of those powers. No power is given to the government to arbitrarily transfer wealth from one citizen to another.

As our country changed, governmental powers necessarily changed to meet the new conditions. Unfortunately, these changes caused many to believe that unlimited expansion of government was both necessary and desirable. This led to an erosion of the concept of private property and free markets.
Use of the power to tax, formerly feared as the power to destroy, became the sanctioned method of promoting social and economic policies not otherwise sanctioned by law.

The redistribution of wealth on Marxist-totalitarian principles has been embraced by the extreme left. Programs to effectuate such redistribution would entail the creation of a huge bureaucracy whose agents would have the power to decide how much of your money you can keep and how much you must give to others whom the bureaucracy deems worthy.

The worst aspect of this controversy is the refusal of those who advocate redistribution to debate the issue on its merits. They simply deny that redistribution is socialism without giving any reasons for the denial. And then they indulge in vituperative attacks against those who would objectively demonstrate the fallacies inherent in their scheme to impose such a tyrannical system on the American people.

--Arlene Heath, Seattle

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October 26, 2008 6:53 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Kate Riley

Spend smarter
While I'm not sure how many "regular citizens" would repeat Forbes Magazine rankings and have specific-state-spending figures at their finger tips, and list them in the same order, these letter submitters are missing the major issues in the race for governor.

The main reason The Times endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is that they have watched him in his career, and know that he has the integrity to do what he says he'll do. Right now he is pledging to fix our state budget and fix our economy.

One party has been in charge in this state since the early 1980s, and I believe we now face a multi-billion-dollar deficit.

Every time Washington state has seen a deficit in the last two decades we have been saddled with another tax increase.

I don't think it has to be this way.

The economy is crashing around us, and we need a governor who can spend smarter, not spend more.
I think The Times made a great choice in endorsing Rossi for governor and I appreciate their courage in doing so. I'm sure we'll see plenty more letters with a well-honed series of talking points against Rossi, but it's time to elect a decision maker and a leader.

-- Craig Lacy, Seattle

He's already lied
In your Oct. 19 endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor, you write that "When he [Rossi] says he'll cut spending, you can believe him..." ["Dino Rossi for governor," editorial, Oct. 19].

I cannot believe anything Rossi says about how he will handle state finances because he has already lied blatantly about what he can accomplish with the transportation budget. Rossi's claim that he can construct an eight-lane Evergreen Point bridge for less money than WSDOT [Washington State Department of Transportation] estimates a six-lane bridge would cost is ignorant at best and fraudulent at worst.

And yet, The Times editorial board feels that he can be trusted with the rest of the state economy?
Beyond the budget argument is a story that appeared in The Times on Oct. 22 about Rossi's environmental views and policies ["Where Gregoire, Rossi stand on environmental issues," page one, Oct. 22].

Times reporter Andrew Garber showed that neither Rossi nor his campaign staffers understand transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to reduce them. Once again, Rossi makes unjustified, fraudulent claims about his transportation plan.

It is impossible for me to understand how The Seattle Times editorial board could say Rossi is to be believed about anything when we already have instances in which he is clearly putting forth false information.

-- Sara Hayden, Shoreline

Don't forget about the salmon
I am a small-fishing business owner who lives on Vashon Island. One of the things that my livelihood depends on is salmon. Will either of the candidates commit to doing something about the collapse of the Washington-salmon economy?

Why should I spend summers in Alaska when I could be fishing here?

I was encouraged to see that both candidates for governor recognize that global warming is the most critical environmental issue of our time. [I'm saddened though that, while humans may figure out how to adapt to environmental change, that luxury is not available to our endangered Washington salmon. Salmon are the environmental icon of our region that have survived and thrived for thousands of years until now.

Global warming is a fine thing for our future governor to be concerned about, but in terms of actually doing something concrete and achievable, how about we start at home to repair the damage we've inflicted on our salmon?

So please, whichever governor wins in November, neither salmon nor the communities that depend on them can afford to wait much longer. Salmon are remarkably resilient, but they cannot survive both global warming and the lower Snake dams.

Taking out the four lower Snake River dams would be a good start, and our next governor needs to make that issue a top priority.

-- Mark Rutherford, Burton

Fix us first
There has been very little discussion about how to restore depleted salmon populations in our state.
Why isn't this more of an issue between Gov. Christine Gregoire and gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi?

Why do they focus on climate change, a global issue over which they have minimal influence, rather than concentrate on a critical local issue over which they could have a profound impact? I fear both candidates are too afraid to make the tough decisions needed in terms of breaching dams to save salmon.

For many of us in Washington, salmon are a sacred treasure. They're one of the region's unique, defining features. I can only tell my kids about the wild salmon that used to flourish in the Columbia-Snake River Basin.

The few salmon that are struggling to survive could go extinct in the near future, even if climate change is kept in check. This is largely because of four outdated federal dams on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington.

-- Rob French, Seattle

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October 26, 2008 6:48 PM

Presidential race

Posted by Kate Riley

Time to move north
The Times reports that 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax ["In swing states, McCain and Obama spar over taxes," Politics, Oct. 19]. Also reported is that "the richest 5 percent pay significantly more than half of all federal income taxes."

Sen. Barack Obama thinks we need to do more sharing of the wealth; he wants to give "tax breaks" to those who don't pay any federal taxes to begin with.

Many of those in that 40 percent do pay into Social Security and Medicare, but that is money they are supposed to get back some day, in addition to what they receive from the few people who are still paying income tax. I would imagine the minimum age for receiving Social Security will be about 95 within a few years unless we do a little more "sharing of the wealth."

Unless we wake up and realize that wealth has to be created before it can be shared and stop penalizing business and industry, that 40 percent will soon become 50 percent and anyone who thinks we all should have some share in paying for the cost of government might as well move to Antarctica.

--Gary McGavran, Bellevue

To Timbuktu we go
As an Englishman I have watched the slow decline of the U.S. in international relations with some sadness, which I can only blame on the current administration.

So come on dear people of America, vote for Sen. Barack Obama and give yourselves and the world a fresh start.

Sen. McCain and 'scary [Gov.] Sarah [Palin]' must never make it to the White House.

If they do, I fear I am going to have to pack my bags and move to Timbuktu. At least then the only gas being emitted will be from passing Camels and not from an elderly politician and his doll who espouse nothing less than tired Republican rhetoric.

We wait with baited breath for a new dawn.

-- Mark Allamand, London, England

What will fix greed?
Sen. Barack Obama clearly stated his plan for reducing taxes for some and raising the two highest tax rates ["Change you can't invest in," Northwest Voices, Oct. 23].

Those same higher rates existed in the 90s when this country was doing fine with a federal-budget surplus. Regarding our society being "wound down into a managed socialist state," Sen. John McCain and his supporters charge Obama has a new idea to use the tax system to redistribute wealth.

Sorry, earned-income tax credits have been in play and supported by Republican and Democratic administrations since at least the 70s.

What do we call $700 billion to bail out the markets, tax incentives for farmers and businesses as well as bridges to nowhere?

Obama the socialist? Bankrupt this country in three years?

Some might argue we are on the verge of bankruptcy today. How's your 401(k) responding to this current business-built house of cards despite the tax cut President George W. Bush passed early in his administration?

Tax cuts are generally good but they don't necessarily fix everything, especially greed.

--Bob Garrison, Sammamish

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October 26, 2008 6:43 PM

Seattle's Proposition 2: Parks Levy

Posted by Kate Riley

Don't forget
An off-leash dog area for Queen Anne and Magnolia will be developed with $140,000 if Proposition 2 passes ["Seattle voters will decide fate of $146 million parks levy," Politics & Government, Oct. 23].

The Times' list of Seattle parks levy projects failed to include these two critically needed and long-awaited projects that will satisfy the needs of thousands of Queen Anne and Magnolia dog owners.

-- Sharon LeVine, Seattle

What have they done for us lately?
While everyone supports better parks for Seattle, now is not the time to pass a new $146 million property-tax levy.

According to the Seattle Parks Web site, only about 70 of the 100 projects promised in the year 2000 pro-parks levy have been completed. Only about 15 projects were completed last year, so there is still about a two-year backlog of unfinished projects at the average and current rate of completion.

Seattle Parks and Recreation should complete the projects that we were promised, and give the citizens a full account of what was accomplished compared with what was promised, before we commit to more.
I personally am still waiting for the $441,600 Green Lake shade garden, which the Web site says will be complete in "Summer, 2007." When I see it complete, then I will support a new parks levy.

-- Jeff Howard, Seattle

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October 26, 2008 6:42 PM

Initiative 1000

Posted by Kate Riley

Don't use it if you don't want it
The time has come for a law allowing terminally ill people to end their pain and suffering at a time of their choosing, but always with the appropriate safeguards that are spelled out in Initiative 1000.

Having witnessed my son's excruciatingly painful death from cancer, I think it is only humane to provide a means whereby he might have been able to escape at least a little of that agony.

For those who do not believe this is a good idea, you would not be required to take advantage of such a law if it were in place, but please don't deprive others of the opportunity when they are in agony in the closing days of their lives.

The decision to take one's own life is an intensely personal one, and one which should only be taken after careful soul-searching and, of course, only within the safeguards required under the proposed law.
-- Sylvia Moore, Seattle

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October 26, 2008 6:40 PM

Darcy Burner's degree

Posted by Kate Riley

Two less words
Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner is absolutely correct in stating that, "people are playing stupid semantic gotcha games" over her not really having a degree in economics from Harvard even though she was quoted twice in public as saying, "I loved economics so much that I got a degree in it from Harvard."

The only problem here is that Burner is the one playing the "stupid semantics game," or as most of us would view it, outright lying to the electorate about her academic qualifications.

Burner's double talking, after the fact reminds very much of former President Bill Clinton's now famous statement about what is the meaning of is?

If Burner was really so pressed for time at the debates on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10, all she had to say was, "I loved economics so much that I minored in it at Harvard."

This simple statement actually uses two less words than her original fabricated statement. If every word really mattered and she was really so pressed for time at the two debates, all she needed to do was to tell the truth.

-- Stephen Kramer, Tacoma

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October 25, 2008 6:30 PM

Chained dogs

Posted by Kate Riley

Get off our backs
Editor, The Times:

I read your story on dog tethering with disgust and disbelief ["Should it be illegal to keep dogs chained?," Times, News, Oct. 21].

Is anyone else tired of this nanny society? Is anyone else tired of having our lives micromanaged by paranoid, meddling know-it-alls who seem to easily get their way with our city and state officials who roll over for every idiotic idea that comes down the pike?

Some people seem to think if they just make enough laws, nothing bad will ever happen. Here's a newsflash for you: things will happen. It's called life.

Some are good, some are bad, and no matter how many freedoms you take away, accidents will happen, and that's a fact of life.

In keeping with your laws, my German Shepherd is already supervised, trained, licensed, vaccinated, leashed and microchipped, and I defy anyone to find even one trace of her poop that is not safely tucked away in a plastic bag.

Therefore, I will tether my beloved dog if I need to, and I certainly do not need any little girl to come over and "counsel" me about it. Contrary to local popular belief, some of us are capable of taking care of ourselves.

-- Pati Smith, Seattle

Keep them inside
The Metropolitan King County Council is to be applauded for considering legislation to regulate chaining. This proposal should be supported by anybody who cares about dogs and kids.

In 2005, two dogs who spent their lives chained up killed my 2-year-old cousin, Jonathan Martin, in Suffolk, Va. Jonathan loved dogs and had no idea how dangerous they could be if chained.

Since losing Jonathan, I've learned that his death is not an isolated incident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to attack than are dogs not kept chained. Animal behaviorists believe that this is because dogs who are chained are not socialized and become overly territorial and defensive, knowing that they have no means of escaping perceived threats. Since Jonathan was killed, dozens more people across the country — mostly innocent toddlers like my cousin — have been injured or killed by chained dogs.

California and Texas recently enacted laws that restrict the tethering of dogs. Children's lives may be saved if King County follows suit.

Please, for the safety of children as well as dogs, never chain your dog.

Dogs belong inside with their families, not doomed to a life of frustration and loneliness on a chain.

-- Alice Conner, Virginia Beach, Va.

You can't be serious
Thank you, King County Councilwoman Julia Paterson, for another great idea about "unchaining" dogs at our homes.

While law enforcement and volunteers check the 12 hours that a dog is chained, what a marvelous opportunity for robbers, molesters, felons and mental cases to increase their activities.

Perish the thought that dog owners should ever be responsible. It's wonderful that the fines for such behavior will not increase. It's also heartening to hear that we taxpayers get to fund the study about this.
It's so great that a government entity is thinking up more ways to help us. We are indebted to the Metropolitan King County Council.

-- Bill Wippel, Normandy Park

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October 25, 2008 6:24 PM

Darcy Burner's degree

Posted by Kate Riley

But he has an A.A.
Now that you have described Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner's Harvard computer science degree, with only "an emphasis in economics," to be an "exaggeration" in a front page expose, please follow up with a story about U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's qualifications based on his Associate of Arts degree from Concordia Lutheran College.

Personally, if I were hiring a U.S. representative and the candidates' resumes listed a bachelor's degree from Harvard vs. an A.A. degree from some obscure college that requires Wikipedia research to locate, the choice would be Burner.

-- Bill Taylor, Renton

Not an exaggeration
As recent Harvard graduates, we have a shocking revelation we would like to share with your readers: Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner may have received a degree from Harvard in 1996, but she was neither a computer-science major nor an economics minor, and she was certainly not both ["Darcy Burner's claims of a Harvard econ degree an exaggeration," News, Oct. 22].

The terminology our university uses can be tricky. Graduates of Harvard College (which is part of Harvard University, but actually predates it), receive artium baccalaureus (A.B.) degrees, also known as Bachelor of Arts in English, and instead of majors, we have concentrations. We call teaching assistants "teaching fellows." And despite last year's addition of secondary fields, there was and is still nothing called a minor at Harvard.

As her profile on The Seattle Times' Web site correctly states, Burner's education is, "Harvard University, B.A. in computer science with a special field of economics, 1996." And as she explains on her own Web site, at Harvard, Burner "earned a degree in computer science and economics." There is no contradiction here, no exaggeration, and certainly no lying.

At Harvard, we have joint concentrations, which are like double majors. As of this year, we also have primary and secondary fields, which is like a major and a minor. And to make matters even more confusing, when Burner was at Harvard, the computer-science department required students to choose an area of specialization. Burner chose economics. As a result, Burner completed five upper-level economics courses, in addition to significant course work in computer science and mathematics. Burner's course of study was almost certainly more intensive than that of the majority of economics concentrators at Harvard.

Voters in Washington's 8th Congressional District have more important issues to worry about than the terms in use at Harvard. We hope that The Seattle Times recommits itself to investigating issues that really matter as the election draws near.

-- Jean Yang, Cambridge, Mass., and Seth Flaxman, Switzerland

Agenda's blocking my view
Nice scoop.
Let's put a front-page story on a slight discrepancy in Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner's bio regarding her economics education. We'll call it an "exaggeration" in the headline and imply some major character flaw.

At the same time, let's bury a major broken campaign promise from gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in the Local News section, even though it is one of the major platforms on which he is running. That way you can tilt the direction of both races so it wills out along your endorsements.

Next time you consider placement of your stories maybe you can ask yourselves the question: "Which one will impact our reader's lives more?" And then try to answer that question honestly without your agenda getting in the way.

-- Dave Leitch, Sammamish

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October 25, 2008 6:22 PM

$7 billion bailout

Posted by Kate Riley

Regulate, please
When U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently loaned money to banks, they were not required to do anything with it.

Unlike the British, Paulson did not require banks to ease the credit freeze by loaning the money to other banks, to businesses or individuals. Consequently, the banks have no incentive to do anything with the Treasury loans, and I expect the banks simply to add these loans to their existing hoards of cash, without loaning any of it.

Some independent economists say that the current credit freeze stems more from continuing losses in the mortgage market than from defaults on new loans. Consequently, shouldn't the banks receiving these loans be compelled to ease the mortgage crisis by immediately imposing a moratorium on foreclosures and allowing mortgage holders faced with foreclosure to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages?

-- Roger Chapanis, Sammamish

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October 25, 2008 6:15 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Kate Riley

What is he hiding?
I am very concerned about this upcoming governor's race. It seems weird that Dino Rossi refuses to testify under oath about the role he played with the BIAW [Building Industry Association of Washington] and its fundraising.

What is he hiding?

What other "backroom deals" will Rossi bring to the governor's mansion? I want to know more about his relationship with the BIAW so I can make an informed decision on Nov. 4.

The people of Washington state deserve answers.

-- Marci Jaye, Seattle

Minimum wage is real for thousands
If gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi tried to raise his family on minimum wage for a month, maybe he would understand how hard it is to make ends meet. At least Washington workers have a higher minimum than many other states, but if elected Rossi would try to cut these wages of our state's lowest-paid workers.

Why is this even a debate? Does Rossi seriously think that a person working full time and getting paid less than $1,400 a month is getting paid too much?

If Rossi gets his way to pay new workers his special "lower" wage, what's to keep employers from just laying off nonunion workers getting the legal minimum wage so they can make more profit? Nothing.

-- Tom Geiger, Seattle

She was the only one
My husband was badly injured and went through a very difficult Labor and Industries claim that lasted over six years. During this time the insurer refused to pay correctly for time loss, prescriptions, doctors visits and procedures, all of which he was entitled to by law.

Considering those six years, we didn't want to have his settlement in installments. We tried to get a lump sum paid out, and were told "no way." We contacted the insurance commissioner, and were told "we don't regulate that." The lawyers we hired didn't help us at all.

So we researched our legal rights, then wrote a letter outlining our story and our rights and mailed it to everyone we thought could help: the governor's office, insurance commissioner, attorney general, all senators and state representatives.

The only person who responded was Gov. Christine Gregoire. She took care of everything immediately. She didn't stand to gain anything by helping us, she simply saw an injustice and made it right.

We hope it makes a difference to know that our governor doesn't think this state is just a business; Gregoire cares about the people in it.

-- Laura Shuff, Chimacum, Jefferson County

Let me get this straight
I'm having a good time with the local ads for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. My favorite is the one where he points out he never suggested dropping the minimum wage by $1.50 for working adults.

The Democrats have a TV ad with several adults talking about how this plan would hurt them, which is labeled false by the Rossi campaign.

Does this make sense?

Rossi proposes dropping the minimum wage for whom? Anyone under 21? I'm not clear on the cutoff.
But I am definitely clear on this: the second that legislation takes hold, how many employers are going to be hiring adults in mostly low-wage, service-oriented jobs when they can pay less by hiring teenagers?

Are clear-thinking Republicans being forced out of their own party? Apparently on the national stage many believe it doesn't matter what Gov. Sarah Palin says as long as she is dressed in designer outfits.

And in Washington state, if Rossi has his way, poor families headed by adults will need to depend on the income of their minor children.

-- Lynn Morrow, Edison, Skagit County

He'll risk his reputation
Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi stated last week that if elected governor, he may need to delay the implementation of his plan to overhaul the roads in our state. Many have decried this statement as breaking campaign promises before he is even elected.

I found this a refreshingly honest assessment from a politician in the midst of a heated battle for governor.
Rossi is risking his candidacy by acknowledging the potential delay, and his statement has two implications. One, it proves that he will fulfill his promise to balance our state's budget -- even at the expense of his own reputation.

Two, it certainly says something about his integrity. He could have easily ignored the issue until after the election, but he was willing to risk everything in order to be honest with the people of our state.
Such integrity and honor should be rewarded by voters on Nov. 4.
-- Benjamin Menenberg, Seattle

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October 25, 2008 6:11 PM

Presidential election

Posted by Kate Riley

Draw the line
Honesty, honor, integrity, and truth. These are old-fashioned values that we all believe in, or so I used to think.

When I saw the Republican Party's mailer linking Sen. Barack Obama to terrorism, I was appalled. That message is dishonest, dishonorable, deceitful and false. This party has gone to extremes to take this election by whatever means possible, even if it means damaging our American Republic.
Where will the Republican Party draw the line?

Let's get back to honesty, honor, integrity, and truth.

-- Cheryl Lawrence, Seattle

In Robert Johnston's letter, he urges us to vote for Sen. John McCain because 79 percent of CEOs polled endorsed McCain ["Change you can't invest in," Northwest Voices, Oct. 23].

These would be the same CEOs who got multi-million-dollar bonuses while laying off employees. The same CEOs who got golden parachutes while their companies declared bankruptcy. The same CEOs who are laughing in their mansions while the rest of us are worrying about losing our houses due to the financial meltdown caused by their dishonesty and greed.

So yes, if 79 percent of them are voting for McCain, that's a fantastic endorsement -- for Sen. Barack Obama.

-- Howard Hance, Snohomish

Think about it
Sen. Barack Obama: community organizer, lawyer, professor and politician.
He has no experience in management or business finance, no foreign policy experience, and he is running for president? He is a fine, charismatic orator.

The liberal press is actively trying to get him elected, even though he is unqualified.

He wants to pull out of Iraq and lose the war. He wants to tax the rich, which will never happen because the rich (Congress) makes laws and will provide themselves with loopholes in the tax code.

He is going to talk with the leaders of our enemies -- the same ones who not only kidnapped our embassy personnel in Tehran, but have vowed to wipe us off the face of the Earth, with no preconditions. He proposes socialized medicine, which, if you ask the Canadians and British, is a failure of the highest magnitude.

Most important, he wants to equalize income -- spread the wealth, rob from the rich to give to the poor -- a basic tenet of socialism.

President Bush's administration will go down as one of the most inept in history. The Obama administration will be rated far below Bush's. Terribly sad.

-- Ronald Donaldson, Yakima

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October 24, 2008 5:50 PM

Burner vs. Reichert: academic credentials

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Thomas James Hurst / The Seattle Times

Democratic 8th Congressional District challenger Darcy Burner listens as incumbent Republican Rep. Dave Reichert responds to a question during their recent debate at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Check the transcript

Editor, The Times:

So a U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert campaign spokeswoman charges that Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner was untruthful when, during a discussion on the economy, Burner stated that she has an economics degree, rather than saying she had a degree in computer science with an emphasis on economics ["Darcy Burner's claims of a Harvard econ degree an exaggeration," page one, Oct. 22].

When I was a student at the University of Washington, it was possible for students in the School of Fisheries to study wildlife science or food science without taking any fisheries courses, or study fisheries with an emphasis on wildlife or food science.

Regardless of what the student studied, their diploma was titled a "fisheries degree."
When a student who studied exclusively in the food-science program complained about receiving a fisheries degree, a faculty member said, "Any idiot can read a transcript. You studied food science, and have a right to represent your degree as a food-science degree."

Burner's campaign clearly lists her degree as being in computer science and economics and the economics credits are in her transcript. I doubt if the Reichert campaign spokeswoman who has difficulty reading Darcy's college transcript is "any idiot," but she obviously believes the voters in the 8th District are complete idiots.

-- Rob Nielsen, Seattle

Be straight with us

We need to have confidence that our lawmakers have integrity and can be counted on to tell us the truth as we face serious economic and political unrest in the world.

I went to a debate where I understood Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner say she had a degree in economics. I felt like she was telling me, "trust me, I have the academic expertise we need right now to lead the way through this economic crisis."

I attended a meeting in Bonney Lake where she said she "worked her way through college to earn an economics degree." Now we learn that her degree is in computer science and she took five classes in economics.

At the very least, she has inflated her credentials and deliberately misled us into believing she had a specific level of expertise to help us as we desperately fight for our own personal economic survival.

She has not only been deceptive, she has preyed upon our fears of an uncertain economic future when we are at our most vulnerable.

-- Kathy Holt, Mercer Island

Give us a break

Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner minored in economics at Harvard, and because she called that a "degree" in a speech, The Seattle Times deems that worthy of a front-page headline?

Please give us all a break.

-- Aaron Thomas, Seattle

Clarification, please

I hope you will have the grace and conscience to correct your misrepresentation of Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner's educational achievements.

Perhaps it was not clear to you when you wrote your piece that Harvard does not award a "minor" or a joint degree.

Their description of a dual degree as a "XXX with a specialty in xxx" is mere semantics.

The fact remains that Burner's thesis met the rigorous standards of two academic departments at one of the most highly respected schools in our country. To impugn this accomplishment implies a bias on your part and undermines your paper's reputation for objective reporting.

-- Susan Beverly, Newcastle

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October 24, 2008 5:49 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Millions want it

As a young salesman years ago, I was cautioned by a sales-veteran about prospects and clients who heard what they wanted to hear, and not what you actually said. So it seems is the problem with Robert Johnston in his recent letter ["Change you can't invest in," Times, Northwest Voices, Oct 23].

He has fallen for the tired old Republican line of Sen. Barack Obama's "huge-spending programs, tax increases on business and massive transfers of wealth," when Obama is actually proposing a tax cut for 95 percent of the population, not giving certain businesses, such as oil companies, further tax cuts (as Sen. John McCain would do), and trying to ensure that all sections of our population are equally represented.

Of course the majority of the heads of major corporations are opposed to Obama, as he wants to curtail the insanely extravagant salaries, perks and bonuses they receive, even as their companies are laying off employees.

As for making our country into a socialist state, what does Johnston think Medicare, Social Security and the graduated income tax are? These are the foundations of our form of social democracy, and I imagine Johnston will gladly accept his Medicare benefits and Social-Security payments, as millions of our other citizens do.

To answer Johnston's question: Yes, Obama is exactly the change millions of us want.

-- Ken Kreps, Puyallup

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October 24, 2008 5:33 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Be progressive

Thanks for Andrew Garber's story comparing Gov. Christine Gregoire and gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi on the environment ["Where Gregoire, Rossi stand on environmental issues," page one, Oct. 22].

Rossi implies that Gregoire's actions have been costly economically. In fact, she has led on a range of programs that will help, not hurt, pocketbooks. She passed the clean-car bill, which will save drivers at the gas pump; she signed generous tax incentives to help consumers pay for solar power; she passed high-efficiency standards that lower electric bills.

By encouraging solar and wind energy in Washington, she fostered new industries and jobs. By diversifying our energy sources, we are buffered from fluctuations in gas and coal markets. She prioritizes education and training for green jobs.

Rossi offers nothing to help working people while fighting climate change or dealing with traffic. His transportation plan would fail to relieve congestion, reduce pollution and provides no alternatives. It would keep us dependent on dirty and expensive oil for generations to come.

This state also uses a lot of coal power for electricity and might need to rely more on fossil fuels as we grow if we don't act now. He ignores energy efficiency -- the cheapest, quickest source of energy, which can lower energy bills while employing thousands of new workers.

Comprehensive programs and proper planning will help this state create jobs and prevent the worst of the climate crisis.

Rossi has voted against studying, planning for or taking action on climate change, which is a shortsighted, expensive point of view that would hurt Washington.

-- Kathleen Ridihalgh, Seattle

A growing force

In a recent Seattle Times story, columnist Jerry Large cites revealing statistics from a recent study that breaks down the complex political demographic within the Asian and Pacific Islander community ["Growing clout of Asian Americans," Local News, Oct. 13].

Large offers some advice for campaign strategists about the Asian-American community, which is one of the fastest-growing groups to potentially affect the outcome of the presidential campaign in several swing states. APIAs [Asian Pacific Islanders] have clout and are a growing force in the land of politics.

While some politicians have yet to fully realize the political strength of APIAs, Gov. Christine Gregoire has always acknowledged the contributions of our community. Since elected as governor, Gregoire has worked with us in the APIA community to make sure that all residents in Washington have access to quality and accessible health care by reducing language and cultural barriers so that individuals and their families, especially our elders can navigate the health-care system.

Gregoire recognizes that Asian Americans are not comprised of one lump ethnicity, but that we are made up of various and distinct groups.

As governor, Gregoire recognizes that the APIA community faces challenges with our K-12 and higher-education system. That is why Gregoire has been an outspoken leader in addressing student-achievement gaps, ensuring that education research includes the disaggregation of student data, attending to the needs of English-language-learning students and increasing financial support to give more APIA students access to college.

APIA voters are not only poised to play a pivotal role but take part in potentially deciding who wins in this gubernatorial race.

Gregoire understands that APIAs are diverse with varied views and she is effective in reaching out to our community.

Now is the time to assert our political force and deliver the APIA vote to victory for Gregoire.

-- Livia Lam, Seattle

Political guts
The Seattle Times hit the nail on the head by endorsing gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for being a tough budgeter and being able to sell a lean, smart budget. ["Rossi for governor," editorial, Oct. 17.]

Right now the biggest issue facing our state, just like the rest of the country, is the economic crisis. We are now in a recession and as a sales-tax-dependent state, we are going to be greatly impacted by these tough economic times.

That's why we need somebody in Olympia with a red pen who will stand up to the Legislature and unions. Rossi has political guts, and that's exactly what we need to bring balance to Olympia.

Difficult times brings the need for solid leadership. This newspaper chronicled the work of Rossi during the tough times of 2003. What he did there was nothing short of amazing. It's time to give him the promotion to governor.

-- Sharon Sweo, Bellevue

Be consistent

Gov. Christine Gregoire has done a very good job as governor. She has been nationally recognized as heading one of the best-run state governments in the country.

I also believe there is an undervalued additional reason to vote for her. It seems very likely that we will have not only a Democratic national government, but one tasked with rebuilding a nearly destroyed national economy.

We need to have leadership that coordinates with the new Democratic national leadership and policies, which will include stimulus for infrastructure and investment in jobs in a new alternative-energy economy.

We have innovators at University of Washington who are potential national leaders in these areas. They will have the chance to shine when governed by Gregoire, who has already earned national recognition for leadership and knowledge both about economic potentials in leadership around climate change and energy-independence technologies. We need the political will to capitalize on a time for great potential.

Gregoire would be an influential partner with the national agenda for change. Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi would claim he could be, but lacks both the right philosophy and the influence to help Washington state.

In times where a major response is needed to huge economic challenges, we need our state to team up with the national leadership.

If you vote for Barack Obama, it makes great economic sense for our state to vote for Gregoire.

-- Kathryn Munson, Seattle

Don't fall for magic tax mathematics

I'm voting for Gov. Christine Gregoire despite your predictable endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and Gregoire's disappointing campaign.

Both your editorial and much of Gregoire's advertising ignore her enviable list of accomplishments, ranging from early-childhood-education initiatives to Puget Sound cleanup. You also overlook Rossi's impossible promises (an eight-lane alternative for less than the proposed six-lane Highway 520 bridge replacement), just as you ignored Gregoire's fiscally responsible opposition to Mayor Greg Nickels' insanely expensive Seattle-tunnel proposal.

Although I wish Gregoire had focused more on her brilliant first-term record in this campaign, I can understand Gregoire's impatience with Rossi's magic tax mathematics. I just hope your own tax myopia doesn't condemn Washington state to four years of our own version of President George W. Bush.

-- Peter Holmes, Seattle

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October 24, 2008 5:32 PM

Reichert endorsement

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Look at the EU
I disagree with The Times' recommendation of Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert over Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner, in particular because of the issue of trade ["Dave Reichert, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen in the 8th, 1st and 2nd congressional districts," editorial, Oct. 12].

The choices are not only "free trade" or "no trade," as this piece seems to indicate. Questions of how to include labor and environmental standards in trade agreements are valuable, perhaps essential, for fair and equitable trade agreements.

Many other countries and regions -- notably, the European Union -- include many more restrictions on commerce to protect workers, consumers and the environment, and their trade balance is better than ours.

Call it fair trade or call it managed trade. I will support anything but a blanket endorsement for all trade agreements that come down the pipeline. That is what Burner, for one, is doing. We need more of such perspectives in Congress.

-- Stephanie Celt, Seattle

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October 24, 2008 5:30 PM

Gates Foundation

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Restoring faith in humanity

I am contacting you today in regards to the recent story on the Gates Foundation ["Gates Foundation gives 104 $100,000 grants for global health projects," Nation & World, Oct. 22].
The story was inspiring, to say the least.

I am a young college student and I hear the negative sides of economy, health care, education and politics everyday, and my faith in humanity becomes a little dimmer.

This story on how the Gates Foundation continues to contribute to the world community shows that humanity has a sidekick, and we can all learn how to help.

Bill and Melinda Gates plan to spend more than $1 billion in 22 countries for developing ideas in the medical world.

With all of the numbers we hear today for research on medication, $1 billion in 22 countries may not seem like a lot. But maybe it isn't just the money that will help a cause. The idea that in such trying times, people who may seem like they have everything in the world would be willing to give to such a fundamental cause can show the possible greatness from the human heart.

--Lindsay Knaus, Bellingham

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October 24, 2008 5:27 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Rebuild it

Thanks to the Nisqually earthquake, we have been exposed to the flaws and weaknesses of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

This highway is crucial to Seattle, carrying about 106,000 vehicles on a typical weekday. Something must be done to fix this viaduct, but the question is what will that be?

The state has been hinting that it wants to replace the viaduct with a tunnel, but this high-costing and long process of building a tunnel just isn't the smartest decision.

With the war in Iraq, we are already spending endless amounts of money in places where we shouldn't be: $2 billion a week on a war where nothing is getting accomplished.

Reconstructing the viaduct should cost as little as possible, but still be a major provider for the transportation system of Seattle.

Building a tunnel would cost between $3.4 billion and $4.1 billion, which is about $1 billion more than simply reconstructing the existing viaduct. While both options would carry about the same amount of traffic, the elevated railway would still allow for the views of our beautiful emerald city. Rebuilding the viaduct is the best resolution.

--Melissa Geiss, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:58 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Jim Bates / The Seattle Times

Volunteers at the Seattle campaign office work phone banks to support the campaigns of Gov. Christine Gregoire and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

Get over it

Editor, The Times:

To any Washingtonians or others out there who plan to vote for Sen. John McCain because Sen. Barack Obama is a person of color, I want to say to you, "get over it." This election is about our future.
It is about becoming a nation that can lead versus a nation that will continue to decline. We are a falling nation.

Look around; read some international press.

I don't think very many Americans understand how bad things really are here. Europeans, Canadians and many Asians are so much better off than we are right now. Our health care and financial systems are failing, our transportation systems are decades behind what Europe and Asia have in place, and the list goes on.

Obama is the true leader. He has vision, foresight, youth, intelligence and judgment that America desperately needs right now. He believes that government should provide fiscal responsibility, oversight and regulation, basic infrastructure, guidelines for education and an investment in youth, health care and alternative sources of energy. These are things that make nations great and McCain barely talks about them.

Obama is not a socialist or a terrorist. He is an American. There is too much at stake to be worrying about the color of his skin and we as voters cannot afford to be so selfish right now. It is not about us or our petty beliefs. It is about the survival of our nation.

-- Debra Smoller, Lynnwood

We are the change

Since volunteering at the Washington Democrats' Campaign for Change on Mercer Street, I've begun to truly understand the depth of Sen. Barack Obama's poignant, "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

During the past two months, I worked alongside a man who gave up his one free day a week to volunteer. I made phone calls beside a mother who was recently laid off; she and her husband are now reconsidering having a second child because of the economy. I worked with professionals during their lunch hours, students between classes, seniors, singles, couples and volunteers from every ethnic group.

I helped a woman in her 80s wheel her walker through the front door to volunteer for the first time in her life. I saw a mentally disabled man file paperwork and watched children amuse themselves while their father did data entry.

A woman brought in a sheet cake to celebrate her birthday with us and another walked in asking, in limited English, if she could help make calls to Spanish-speaking voters. All volunteers.

I get it now. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

-- Susan Nunnery, Seattle

You decide

The Republicans are in a state about the "spreading the wealth" comment made by Sen. Barack Obama. I thought the whole point of past tax breaks for the wealthy was to benefit us all -- trickle-down economics.

High-income folks would invest in factories and employment would go up. So how'd that work? Now we're bailing out billionaires running our financial institutions. Apparently, those benefits are supposed to trickle down, too.

When politicians talk taxes, they conveniently exclude Social Security taxes. How else do you say that 40 percent of workers don't pay taxes? Did you know that when Reagan slashed top income-tax rates in the 1980s, Social Security taxes on wages and self-employment income nearly doubled? In theory, this was going to provide huge surpluses to cover baby-boomer retirements.

But somehow the nearly $3 trillion excess is gone, and we still have a $10 trillion debt. What Republicans have done here is use Social Security taxes so the wealthy can enjoy huge tax cuts.

The share of income held by the top 1 percent is as large as it was in 1928. Americans have the highest income inequality in the world, and over the past 20 to 30 years the disparity has increased.

If you like where this is going, by all means vote Republican. "Consolidate the wealth" versus "spread the wealth." You decide.

-- Carolyn Kriegel, Stanwood

Time for recess

As an 18-year-old high-school student, this is the first election I will be able to vote and I find it astounding at the amount of money Sen. Barack Obama has gained for advertising.

As Obama nears closer and closer to breaking the advertisement-spending record, it disgusts me that both parties continue to spend so much money on negative campaigning. I find negative campaigning to do nothing more than turn me away from the candidates. It's a sickening display of childish banter that one would expect from elementary school kids, not the men who will be running our country.

Especially in the case of Sen. John McCain, when Obama has practically won the presidency. The smart thing for the Republican Party would be to start putting more money into their senator and governor races.

-- Matt Berry, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:55 PM

Foot ferries

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Still a viable option

Just a reminder that foot ferries are part of a regional multimodal approach to reducing traffic congestion ["Can we tax Peter, pay Paul?," Times, Danny Westneat columnist, Oct. 22]. If those foot ferries are carrying 300 passengers, that likely means that there are 250 to 300 fewer cars on area roads.

It's hard to weigh the value of reducing traffic congestion against the value provided by the sheriff's department, but the goal is a worthy one, not just a tourist froufrou.

-- Andrea Avni, Vashon Island

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October 23, 2008 3:53 PM

Ralph Nader

Posted by Ken Rosenthal


I can't believe you are giving front-page photo coverage to Ralph Nader and his message that there is no difference between the political parties ["Nader in Seattle: U.S. run by Wall Street 'crooks'," Politics & Government, Oct. 21].

This is the man responsible for putting President George W. Bush in the White House, where he has trashed America, destroyed our stature in the world and used his cronies to rend the fundamental fabric of our society.

Anyone who thinks it would have been the same if former Vice President Al Gore had run the country for the past eight years is pathologically out of touch with reality. Nader doesn't deserve to have his picture on your front page.

-- Greg Bartholomew, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:50 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Be informed

Thank you for "Attack ads distort deal Gregoire rejected on Casinos," [News, Oct. 19], which I have read and reread out of a wish to be a well-informed voter. I appreciate this comprehensive reporting since gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's campaign has made this issue prominent.

What's especially helpful is learning that there was widespread bipartisan support for rejecting revenue sharing with the tribes. Call me naive, but I have to admit dismay to learn that Gov. Christine Gregoire's management of this matter has been distorted for political ends. The way this issue has diverted attention from relevant issues also dismays me.

Accepting distortions in campaigns undermines the quality of our civic life. I hope voters will take the time to get informed and reject what is false and misleading not only in this matter but in all matters related to the election. I hope your newspaper and other sources will continue to aid voters who responsibly search out the facts. If we voters do our homework, maybe someday campaigners will give up distorting the truth.

Wouldn't that be something?

-- Constance Voget, Seattle

Hand in hand

Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi does not believe climate change is real -- just like the BIAW [Business Industry Association of Washington]. You cannot be a leader on climate change if you don't believe the problem is real ["Clashing views on climate change," page one, Oct. 22].

Rossi believes building roads is the answer -- just like the BIAW. Every objective evaluator of his transportation plan has labeled it a farce that is neither economically viable nor physically possible.

Rossi voted against the environment two-thirds of the time, just like he votes with the BIAW 99 percent of the time.

What do you think he will do as governor: protect the environment or follow the right-wing anti-environment group that is paying $7 million to buy the election?

Groups like Washington Conservation Voters don't just endorse Democrats, they endorse champions for our environmental protection, regardless of party affiliation. An environmental champion is an elected official who understands that protecting our quality of life and improving our economy go hand-in-hand.

--Ken Lederman, Seattle

Who's your daddy?

The Building Industry Association of Washington [BIAW] has now pumped $7 million into gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's election campaign, with $4 million of that coming this past week ["Rossi's biggest backer explains what it wants," Times, page one, Oct. 17]. What's going on here? Who is Rossi going to be beholden to if he is elected?

It doesn't seem like he'll be terribly responsive to the people, or the real needs of Washington, when his sugar daddy is BIAW.

-- Bruce Barnbaum, Granite Falls

Don't ruin what's been started

A big issue for me is that gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is anti-choice and anti-birth control.

Population control is extremely crucial for the preservation of our fragile environment. With more people becoming homeless, the risk of unwanted pregnancies increases. We've made a lot of progress since the days of [American birth-control activist] Margaret Sanger. Let's not go back to those days by voting for Rossi.

-- Kim Loftness, Shoreline

He'll build a fish bowl

Gov. Christine Gregoire has been a plucky, well-organized and effective governor, despite her hairbreadth win four years ago, which would have made a lesser person timid.

What has gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi actually done that is positive for our state? What would he do during our next four years? Chop social services, promote his personal extreme-right-wingnut social agenda, and push that absurdly expensive Seattle-waterfront traffic tunnel that would fill up with saltwater as our planet warms up and Puget Sound rises.

-- Chuck Hastings, Federal Way

She added before subtracting

The announcement Tuesday that our state's jobless rate has dropped in the month of September is proof Gov. Christine Gregoire has led our state effectively during tough economic times.

Our state has added more than 28,000 nonfarm jobs in the past 12 months, an increase of 1 percent in the face of a nationwide decrease of 0.7 percent.

The jobless rate in Washington is 0.3 percent lower than the jobless rate nationwide. These numbers clearly show our state's economy is faring better than the rest of the nation.

Gregoire has been a good steward of our state's economy during a national economic crisis, but gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and his friends continue to air false and misleading ads that exploit the fear and uncertainty of these tough times.

In one ad they say Gregoire has lost our state 55,700 jobs, but it fails to mention she has added 250,000. In another ad, they cite scary-sounding unemployment figures, but fail to mention our jobless rate is below the national average.

The truth is, Gregoire has served us well. In the middle of this national economic crisis, our state's economy is much stronger than most other states.

-- Fay Feganm, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:48 PM

Chained dogs

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

How would you like it?

I find it difficult to understand why a person would want to chain a loving creature like a dog, treating it like a caged animal ["Should it be illegal to keep dogs chained?," News, Oct. 21].

Why don't the owners who chain their dogs try an experiment and chain themselves for 10 hours a day on the same chain they use for their "best friend"? Then they should ask themselves why they want to do this to their dog.

Breeds that repeatedly kill children, adults and other pets should be banned as it is obvious many owners do not have a clue what a dog requires to have a happy life, let alone care if their dog attacks someone.

-- Michael Evans, Seattle

Think twice

Although public safety is of prime importance, there is another crucial reason to ban the chaining of dogs: The practice leads to a tragic life for dogs.

Dogs are very social creatures that need the companionship of others. It's an act of extreme cruelty to chain a dog. Owners who are not prepared to care for dogs properly and give them the attention and love they deserve should rethink their actions. Congratulations to the Metropolitan King County Council for their compassionate stance.

-- Nancy Pennington, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:44 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity / assisted suicide

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Even if it kills me

I will vote "yes" for I-1000, even if it kills me.

-- Leo Shillong, Bellingham

Let them keep their dignity

My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer more than a year ago. When he wasn't improving, the doctor gave him horrifying news that he would die within three months. The hospital informed us that hospice would take over his care. Two nurses visited regularly at home.

Nurse Mickey treated my dad with compassion. If my dad experienced any pain, they took care of it. God blessed our family with my dad's presence for two months. During this time, each of us had a chance to say goodbye. Family members came and shared how my father made a difference. Childhood friends shared how they valued my dad's life-changing friendship.

It was hard to see my dad fade a little each day. Every moment was a precious gift from God. On Oct. 1, my father, Michael, died at 66. I will always remember my dad's never-ending faith in God and others. The hospice care gave my dad a chance to die with dignity. Initiative 1000 takes that dignity away. When we start playing God, we lose the value of human life.

-- Molly Feeney, Sammamish

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October 23, 2008 3:43 PM

Packwood's elk

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

What about scare tactics?

Humans always want to have their cake and eat it too -- or in this case, elk ["Elk in Packwood could soon be hunted," News, Oct. 15].

Whenever people start moving into the animals' territory, it's a given they will have nowhere else to go but backyards, and in Packwood's case, in front yards.

It's exasperating that on the one hand people go out of their way to feed the elk, and then when they come around for free food, people get annoyed when they trample their yards.

You can't have it both ways. But as is usually the case, when a few people complain, killing the animals is always the first solution.

Put the guns and bows and arrows away and come up with a humane plan. What about scare tactics or some sort of barrier. Maybe the people who can't stand a less-than-perfect yard could move.

It sounds absolutely insane to expand the hunting areas, making them closer to the freeway.

Humans and wildlife can live together, but the humans need to be a little more creative and patient and a lot less willing to resolve conflicts with weapons.

-- Gayle Janzen, Seattle

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October 23, 2008 3:39 PM

Proposition 1: light rail

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Support a good system
Your failure to endorse the expansion of light rail is disappointing ["Reject Proposition 1's tax for light-rail expansion," editorial, Sept. 28]. We need better transportation choices as soon as possible. Buses will never move people as well as a separate rail system.

And if we are to address local jobs and greenhouse-gas emissions, we should be looking at the most efficient system possible.

You say we can build separate lanes for buses. Like those on Highway 520 or Interstate 405 that are often stopped during rush hour? We can see now how that will be working in 20 years.

Let's support a good system. It will mean better jobs and increased mobility.
-- Martin Adams, Seattle

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October 22, 2008 3:08 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Yalonda M. James/Charlotte Observer/MCT

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain reacts to the crowd while taking the stage to speak at a rally in Concord, N.C., on Saturday.

Change you can't invest in

Editor, The Times:

A survey of 751 heads of major corporations by Chief Executive magazine in September found that 80 percent support Sen. John McCain for president. Further, 74 percent said that they fear a Sen. Barack Obama presidency "would be disastrous" for the country while only 19 percent fear McCain becoming president.

These business leaders stated they believe Obama's plans for the economy, including huge-spending programs, tax increases on businesses and massive transfers of wealth "would bankrupt the country within three years if implemented."

Is there a correlation between how the stock market continues to plunge at the same time Obama's poll numbers rise? You bet.

This is one of the reasons those of us on the "right," who have owned, or managed, businesses believe this to be the case. We are very concerned that with Obama at the helm, our 232-year-old society based upon free enterprise and individual responsibility will be inexorably wound down into a managed socialist state.

Who wants to invest in that environment? Wake up America: Is this the "change" you want?

-- Robert Johnston, Camano Island

Powell for president

I am an independent voter who was transfixed by Gen. Colin Powell's speech Sunday on "Meet The Press." However, my fascination was not for Powell's endorsement or for either of the candidates for the presidency.

Instead, my thoughts drifted back to the elections eight years ago. Somehow, the best leader for America escaped us then and now. Powell once again was demonstrating the depth of his character, inclusive validation of his considerations, extensive foundation of his principles, sincere dedication for our country's interests and deep intellectual sagacity.

Every one of his words were perfectly chosen and encouraging in their clearness and purpose. How do we let such leaders slip through our fingers? Powell would have made a great president for America anytime, especially now.

-- Harvey Gillis, Bellevue

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October 22, 2008 3:04 PM

Initiative 985: traffic congestion

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Check your sources
So former state Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald thinks that I-985 will "actually increase congestion." ["Would ballot measure relieve traffic jams or worsen them?," Politics & Government, Oct. 20]. He said, "it's not going to move us forward"

This is from the expert who led the agency that spearheaded and designed the mess we are in now. Somehow having MacDonald sounding off is not very credible in my book.

This measure is at least a positive step toward helping to reduce congestion. It is not an overall solution, in and of itself, but it is not more of the same.

Positive steps were never part of MacDonald's tenure.

-- Phil Bate, Lynnwood

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October 22, 2008 2:58 PM

Facing foreclosure

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Live small now, big later

I am not behind on my mortgage payments ["Facing foreclosure, Puget Sound families rush to hang on to their homes," News, Oct. 20]. I do not smoke, gamble or play the lottery.

I rarely drink or go out to expensive restaurants. I budget for every single thing I will need to buy for the next year. I drive a car that gets 33 mpg. I bring my lunch to work every day and do not purchase expensive coffee drinks.

Can someone please point me in the direction of the program that will assist me? I believe the majority of people who will receive some sort of mortgage assistance will be right back in this predicament in less than two years.

The problem is not one of a financial nature. The problem is maintaining a lifestyle that cannot be supported without ignoring that "pesky" mortgage.

-- Dwight Carlin, Kent

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October 22, 2008 2:57 PM

Proposition 1: light-rail expansion

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Do it now

Failure to pass Proposition 1 will be a big setback for Seattleites. As the growth continues, so will the gridlock. The cost that critics say is enormous is inaccurate. To postpone this project will be more costly in future -- doubling or tripling the cost due to inflation.

This is exactly what happened in my former Los Angeles residence. After the light-rail and subway were completed, there were proposals to extend it from downtown to the Santa Monica pier but voters turned it down because of the cost and construction noise.

Five years later, due to rapid and continued growth, the gridlock from Westwood to West Los Angeles up to Santa Monica became unbearable. The proposal was then brought back to the table in 2007 and was approved to extend the subway for more than $1 billion. Had they approved this years before, it could have been a lot cheaper and would have been finished by now.

Whether we like it or not, taxes will go up, whoever is running the government. As growth continues, so does the need for more infrastructure and upgrades for basic services. Where will we get the money to pay for this?

If we don't want to raise taxes then we should live like a Third World country.

What we need is to fix the economy, and go back to the American way with decent wages and more jobs.

-- Tom Lasam, Seattle

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October 22, 2008 2:45 PM

Rossi endorsed for governor

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Where's my laxative?

It was remarkable to learn today that laxative sales go up during a recession "because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back" ["As economy sinks, laxative sales grow, smoking drops," Nation & World, Oct. 19]. That explains the sudden clenching I felt when I read The Times' endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor ["Rossi for governor," Times, editorial, Oct. 19].

Remembering that The Times endorsed President George W. Bush in 2000, I searched The Times' archives and found the following summary statement: "We [The Times] recommend [George W. Bush, Republican, for President] for integrity and civility in office, for a realistic balance between government and commerce, a fair tax policy, and a new, bipartisan era to confront the needs of the nation".

I urge the editors to raise their hands, say, "Oops, my bad" and reconsider their current endorsement.
Rossi's record, grossly negative campaign, questionable fundraising and religious fundamentalism all bear the stench of a Republican brand that has proved itself politically and morally bankrupt (and has rendered many Americans financially bankrupt).

Endorsing Rossi "because he can best be trusted to erase the state's huge projected deficit without raising taxes" reads like your above endorsement for Bush in 2000, especially the part about "a fair tax policy."

Please, don't be fooled again.

-- Ed Leach, Seattle

Keepin' it green

As Puget Sound teeters on the brink of collapse, your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is nothing short of appalling.

Sure, Rossi says he's green, but he opposes taking the decisive action needed; that's why he's the darling of the BIAW [Building Industry Association of Washington].

Here's an example of what we could expect from a Rossi administration. Back in 2006, Rossi backed Initiative 933 -- an anti-environment, anti-neighborhood measure to force taxpayers to compensate developers who saw their profit margins "damaged" by environmental rules. I-933 was so bad that Gov. Christine Gregoire, all six living former governors and nearly every city council in the state opposed it. So did The Seattle Times, calling it "an expensive hoax on property owners and taxpayers." Mercifully, voters defeated it by about 60-40 percent across the state (and about 67-33 percent in King County.)

It's no coincidence that I-933 was funded by groups now dumping buckets of money into Rossi's campaign, including the BIAW. According to your Oct. 17 story, BIAW PACs [political-action committees] are spending upward of $6 million to elect Rossi and others who would ax environmental protection measures

Let's keep Washington green with Gov. Gregoire.

-- Elsa Bruton, Olympia

You still at work?
When I read The Times' endorsement for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor, I hoped I would find cogent and convincing reasons to vote for him. Instead, I found myself reading the same stuff that the Rossi campaign has been putting out all year.

What happened?

Did the editorial staff take the day off and have Rossi write his own endorsement?

-- Mark Hudson, Seattle

You fell for it
I am writing to express my disappointment with The Times' endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor. While you are certainly free to support any candidate of your choice, your failure to fully represent Rossi's views in your endorsement do a disservice to your readers and to the citizens of our state.

Your editorial focused entirely on Rossi's proposed economic agenda, and neglected to address his regressive social positions. While I agree that the state's economic woes are of high importance, our next governor will also set the tone for a social agenda of equal magnitude.

Rossi's arch-conservative views include: siding with big business at the expense of our environment, decreasing protections for wildlife and wilderness areas, seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade and restricting access to contraception and medically accurate sex-education information in schools.

He promises to veto marriage-equality legislation should the Legislature approve it, and to roll back the hard-won civil-union rights that gay and lesbian citizens have just recently attained.

The Rossi campaign has cleverly managed to divert attention during election season from his social views.
By ignoring these issues in your endorsement of his candidacy, you've allowed this dishonest campaign strategy to achieve its purpose.

-- Jeff Natter, Seattle

He will take us down
I am a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools. I've taught for 30 years. I am writing to spread the word about gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. He will take us back to the days when he was in control of the budget and cut the education budget by $1.2 billion. His current campaign calls for huge increases in the transportation budget with no new sources of revenue.

That means he would cut education again.

This state cannot afford to have a governor who sacrifices our children's futures. We need an educated work force to meet the needs of the state's future work force. Washington cannot afford Rossi.

-- Joanie Mass, Seattle

We're on a road to nowhere
I was quite dismayed to see that your editorial board has endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, as he simply is not qualified. People who vote for him will be voting against their own interests and will be backing big business. Didn't we have enough of that trickle-down theory on the national level these past eight years? We do not need that here in Washington state.

The basis of your endorsement is that he will deal with our state deficit without raising taxes. That is a Republican manner of looking at a financial situation. Look where that has gotten our country.

Taxes not raised on a state level are simply made up by increased homeowner and sales taxes elsewhere. Thinking we do not all need to pay for our fair share of the infrastructures and services is silly.

No matter how "likable" Rossi appears to be, he's a lacky of big business and I for one have had more than enough of that these last eight years.

-- Matt Shaw, Seattle

Let her keep tackling
As Island County Commissioner, I often worked with Gov. Christine Gregoire when she was director of the state Department of Ecology. She did not hesitate to take on the toughest problems facing people of this good state.

Two of the more contentious were water and water rights and Puget Sound water quality. She brought all the players and interested parties together and got them to talk and consider solutions until an agreement could be made. Feelings often overflowed into the discussions but she never wavered in her determination to find an equitable solution. Her leadership and sharp intellect served us all well.

These qualities were shown again when, as our attorney general, she successfully concluded negotiations with the tobacco industry that netted billions from the U.S. I recall saying to the executive director of the Washington State Association of Counties that I thought she was doing a really good job. He countered that "She is the best attorney general we have ever had." And I, too, came to believe that to be true.

As governor she has brought that same leadership and incisive thinking to the highest office in our state. She has tackled the tough jobs and served the people well. I will be proud to vote for her to be returned for a second term.

-- Dwain Colby, Camano Island

No more equal rights

I was crushed, but not surprised, that Dino Rossi won the endorsement of The Seattle Times. I am willing to concede that he could do a good job with the budget, though Gov. Christine Gregoire has proved that she can be tough as well.

I recall it was under her watch that a large deficit was erased. But socially, Rossi does not represent the majority of this state. He has said that he would consider proactively rescinding the domestic-partnership law. He even refused to address the constituency at a gay and lesbian community business meeting.

If he didn't support equal rights based on race or gender I suspect that The Seattle Times would write him off in a nanosecond, regardless of his other positions. It just proves that gay and lesbian people can still be publicly maligned without penalty. The support of the editorial board of Rossi without qualification makes them complicit with Rossi's views.

The editorial mentioned other reasons to vote for Rossi besides the budget issues, but the idea was basically change for change's sake.

I hardly think that changing from Gregoire is analogous to the change from President George W. Bush. I think there are many other reasons to vote for Gregoire, such as education, industry support, minimum wage and the environment.

But The Seattle Times is completely myopic in their approach. Perhaps the editorial should have mentioned some concerns as well.

-- John Sutherland, Seattle

She's doing it better
In your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, you claim that "when he says he'll cut spending, you can believe him." I strongly disagree.

I find it hard to believe anything Rossi has said in this campaign. He hasn't provided one substantive proposal to tackle any of the state's problems, and when it comes to cutting spending, Rossi refuses to pinpoint a single item he would cut. He just says, "I'll balance the budget without raising taxes."

That's an attractive promise to make, but no one should believe him until he explains exactly how he would do it.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has already started to cut spending and has also vowed not to raise taxes.
To save $90 million, Gregoire has ordered state agencies to implement a hiring freeze and to eliminate nonemergency out-of-state travel, equipment purchases and services contracts. In addition, she just announced another $240 million in immediate budget savings.

Combined with the money saved in the rainy-day fund Gregoire created, these actions alone will cut the projected budget deficit in half.

When it comes to balancing the budget, Gregoire is the only candidate we should trust.

-- Alex Hart, Seattle

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October 21, 2008 3:54 PM

Seattle Times endorsement of Dino Rossi for governor

Posted by Kate Riley

Jim Bates/The Seattle Times

Dino Rossi speaks during the final gubernatorial debate at Seattle's KING 5 studio Oct. 15.

Thanks, but no thanks
Editor, The Times:

Perhaps your conservative philosophy influences your candidate endorsements ["Rossi for governor," Times, editorial, Oct. 19].

During the recent gubernatorial debate I was impressed with Gov. Christine Gregoire's accomplishments. The Pew Center ranked Washington in the top three states for managing public resources, and Forbes magazine states that Washington is in the top five states for business.

During the debate, gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi repeatedly stated that he had developed the 2003 state budget. The Seattle Times echoes his claim and suggests that, "The Rossi-Locke budget saved the people from increases in major taxes and helped unleash a strong economic rebound."

I might remind you that "no new taxes" is also the philosophy of President George W. Bush's administration which has created the worst recession in the history of our nation. Perhaps the relationship between no-new-taxes and economic rebound is tenuous at best.

Change has been the campaign slogan for both Sen. Barack Obama and Rossi. Obama would like to change the conservative Bush philosophy, and an ever-increasing majority of the country's electorate seems to agree. But Washington state is top-ranked when it comes to management and business. Yet Rossi and The Seattle Times claim "he would bring change to … Olympia."

Thanks, but no thanks.

-- Bill Taylor, Renton

Who is vulnerable?
The 2003 Washington state budget that you praise gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for balancing, cut thousands of low-income children off Children's Health Insurance. Rossi has yet to tell us which "vulnerable populations" he would protect.

Rossi supports allowing pharmacists not to fill prescriptions they disagree with. While Plan B [emergency contraception] may be the most obvious casualty, what happens if a pharmacist disagrees with the way I manage my pain from advanced cancer and will not give me the pain meds I need to function?

Rossi's transportation plan would be a disaster, especially for anyone who lives near the Highway 520 bridge.

As I understand it, Rossi's supporters want to get rid of building regulations, which would mean dirtier streams and probably more loss of natural marsh and swamplands.

While I don't always agree with Gov. Christine Gregoire, she has been and will be a better governor than Rossi will ever be.

-- Jean Colman, Seattle

Unpleasant morning
I received an unpleasant jolt when I opened Sunday's Opinion section and discovered that The Times endorsed Dino Rossi for governor. Apparently the editorial board has bought into his TV commercials offering "change."

If Rossi can be relied on to cut spending by "about 10 percent," as The Times claims is necessary, where will these cuts be made? History shows that when Republicans cut spending, social programs usually fall victim (think Ronald Reagan.) Cutting social programs during terrible economic times will lead to greater problems in the long run.

The Times complained about Gov. Christine Gregoire's increased spending. Where did she spend more? On teachers and home-care workers. This is not a waste of money; it is money well spent.

As a 17-year-old public-school student, I believe my teachers deserve higher pay. The Times said people can believe Rossi. Until he offers specific solutions rather than smarmy attacks, I can't.

-- Cassandra Baker, Seattle

Move forward
Only one day after The Seattle Times reported on the BIAW's [Building Industry Association of Washington's] scandalous multimillion dollar expenditures on his behalf, the newspaper endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor. BIAW's efforts are blatantly aimed at eliminating regulations protecting the environment.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has shown remarkable leadership and vision on many issues, including investing in our economy and environment for future generations.

Gregoire strongly supports the creation of green jobs and industry in this state, a position that Sen. Barack Obama has made a cornerstone of his economic platform.

Gregoire created the Puget Sound Partnership to save our life-sustaining inland sea, which is beginning to die from the impact of unregulated development.

Gregoire began a program to fight climate change. Washington state's hundreds of miles of coastline and glacier-fed water sources will be especially hard hit.

Rossi shows little interest in addressing these issues. Like many politicians, he professes to care about the environment. However, his platform calls for the weakening of environmental rules and road building in preference to mass transit.

Washingtonians should expect Gregoire's vital and innovative "green" programs to wither under his administration.

The Times recently endorsed Obama saying, "He can get America moving forward again." The re-election of Gregoire is essential to making that a reality for Washington state.

-- E. L. Johnson, Olympia

Remove your head from the sand
The Seattle Times decided to endorse gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor this week, partially based on the fact that the Democrats have been in power for 24 years. It is unfortunate that The Seattle Times is endorsing a candidate who has lied about his stance on education. His children attend private school despite living in a district that has excellent public schooling. As state senator, he wanted to lower state spending despite the clear funding criteria set out in the state constitution to fully fund education.
Rossi refuses to testify in a case that he claims is politically motivated. This sounds vaguely familiar to a case in another state, Alaska, where Gov. Sarah Palin refused to testify in her abuse-of-power investigation. Sticking your head in the sand does not make you guilty, nor does it absolve you.

Can we truly trust Rossi to cut spending when he has his own personal agenda that caters to questionable businesses? No thanks.

-- Chris Santos, Seattle

No divisive baggage, please
Your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi places too much emphasis on the possibility of Rossi achieving a balanced state budget and not enough thought to the divisive baggage Rossi brings with him.

We do not need the division politics that Rossi has endorsed, nor do we need to enhance the power of his friends in the building industry.

Washington state, just like the nation, needs leadership that is pragmatic and unifying -- that is not Rossi.

-- Bob Doyle, Seattle

Go back to your McMansions
I was shocked to pick up my newspaper [Sunday] morning to see that The Times has endorsed Dino Rossi for governor.

Your thinking behind the endorsement reflects a surprising 1980s-like quality.

The assumption is that all government spending is "bad" and all taxes are "bad," and that our state can be run efficiently without that bad ol' government spending.

Government deficits are the ultimate sin.

But here we sit in the 21st century. And I challenge you: Please tell me exactly how Rossi should cut the state budget by 10 percent. Gov. Christine Gregoire has made some very courageous, very overdue investments in schools, transportation and health care.

A state without adequately funded schools will fail. A state with crumbling roads and bridges will fail. A state where health care can't be afforded will fail. A state under Rossi will be all these things -- and will fail.

Rossi and his BIAW [Building Industry Association of Washington] buddies will use their exorbitant tax cuts to continue to rape Washington's natural resources at the expense of us all.

Forget about Washington state joining with other Western states to fight climate change. And just like President George W. Bush and his investment bank/oil company cronies, after Rossi's term is up, they will laugh and retreat to their McMansions while the rest of us are left with a vastly impoverished state.

I am so disappointed that you would endorse this.

-- Isabel D'Ambrosia, Seattle

What planet am I on?
Why on Earth would The Times endorse this deceptive BIAW [Building Industry Association of Washington] mouthpiece for our governor? I am shocked and disappointed that your organization has such low regard for this state's environmental and economic future.

We need Gov. Christine Gregoire's progressive leadership to tackle the serious problems we are facing now, such as education, jobs, global warming and growth management.

-- Melessa Rogers, Burien

You have been duped again
I was disappointed to read your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor. I was even more disturbed as I followed your rationale. You advance a single reason for your support: He has proved he can cut spending. Is that all that counts?

Does his abysmal record on the environment mean nothing to you? Or his undercutting of Washington state education? Or the vicious campaign of half-truths financed by his cronies in the building-trades industry? Or the fact that he is anti-choice to the core?

As an aside, didn't the spending-cutting budget you are referring to have as much to do with the statesmanship of former Gov. Gary Locke as it did the political maneuvering of Rossi? Locke was, after all, the Democratic governor at the time, with a Democratic majority in the Legislature.

I fear you have been seduced by a warm and responsive demeanor, an expressive and well-modulated vocal tone, and the overall sense of reasonableness that oozes from Rossi's pores.

In short, you have been duped. He is a right-wing extremist on the order of another man who duped you in the past, President George W. Bush.

-- Josiah Erickson, Seattle

A fetid global mess
My community and my family have never had a better friend than Gov. Christine Gregoire in the governor's mansion, and are disappointed in The Seattle Times endorsement of her opponent [gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi].

Her office has demonstrated her commitment to protecting our precious water resources twice in my neighborhood. Why? Because we asked, she listened and she connected with our concerns. As a result, a vulnerable aquifer was spared damage from poorly regulated septic systems. Now the water supply will not be ravaged by too many wells abusing water-rights laws.

She recognized that piecemeal issues had big-picture significance for our state. I don't remember any previous governor acting so quickly and effectively over their signature land-use issues, and I can't imagine her current opponent taking the community's side.

This is just one example of Gregoire's path to improve state health and well-being. She has proved her commitment to Washington state's most important assets: its beauty, natural wonders and its healthy and well-educated work force.

After Gov. Hillary Rodham Clinton, it would be Greek tragedy to watch the rest of the country elect good governors on Obama's coattails while we throw out Gregoire, one of the highest regarded women politicians in the country.

After so many years of economic success, why would Washington want to put itself into the hands of Rossi, a candidate who espouses the failed policies of the GOP that have accomplished nothing but a fetid mess on a global scale.

-- Laura Hartman, Snohomish

Just a chimera
Four years ago, The Times endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor as a game-changer who would "clean out" Olympia and change its "administrative culture" that was supposedly a drag on Washington state's economy.

It was all nonsense.

At the time, we had actually been ranked as the nation's fourth-friendliest business environment. Moreover, Rossi was well-identified with an assortment of right-wing positions disfavored by the majority of Washingtonians your editorial board chose to overlook.

In Gov. Christine Gregoire's first term, Washington managed to make the top five in's "Top States for Business" report (2007) largely based on reduction of red tape, a culture of innovation and a highly educated work force.

In June of 2008, Washington ranked third on the Pew Center [on global climate change] on the states report, just behind Utah and Virginia, for having the best-run state government.

Four years later, The Times' only rationale for changing horses is the presumptive tough stance Rossi would take in dealing with a projected deficit for 2009 and beyond -- a deficit not of Gregoire's making.
And the one example given by your editorial board as to how "tough" Rossi might be? Making state employees (of the third-best-run state) pay the private-sector average of one-third of their health-care insurance instead of the current 12 percent.

In the words of Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?"

It's clear your board doesn't have Warren Buffett advising them on economic policy matters.

Rossi has not changed at all, and has proved nothing concerning his ability to govern during the past four years that merits your endorsement.

Your recycled fantasy is, as you state, "he would bring change to the culture of Olympia."

Rossi is nothing more than your chimera, and as the saying goes, "that's not change we can believe in."

-- Jay Causey, Mercer Island

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October 21, 2008 3:53 PM

Barack Obama and taxes

Posted by Kate Riley

Follow the yellow-brick road

I have been in business for 11 years and believe paying taxes is patriotic. I support Sen. Barack Obama because I strongly believe he has the judgment to get us out of the mess in Iraq and return this country to the correct path.

-- William Woodruff, Seattle

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October 21, 2008 3:49 PM

Initiative 985

Posted by Kate Riley

Think of something else

Here's a simple suggestion to address Puget Sound traffic congestion: Buses -- lots of them -- 1,000 buses if that's what it takes ["I-985: Tim Eyman puts the meddle to the pedal," editorial columnist, Oct. 19].

Make sure a bus runs down every major street in the area at least twice an hour. Make sure buses run between every city and employment center at least several times an hour.

This would reduce our carbon footprint and relieve congestion.

No yearlong study required.

No billion dollar, multi-year construction project necessary.

Sound too simplistic? Maybe it is, but it's a start and it's something I could actually vote for.

-- Valerie O'Halloran, Renton

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October 21, 2008 3:46 PM

Boeing strike

Posted by Kate Riley

I wonder
If I owned a business, I'd like the flexibility to make decisions that would best serve the company's stakeholders ["Boeing engineers union weighs strike plan," Boeing/ Aerospace, Oct. 13]. I'd also try to hire and retain employees who add value and promote a teamwork atmosphere.

When I look at the IAM [International Association of Machinists] District 751 Web site, I see damaging words against Boeing due to their actions, such as, "each day of the strike will cost Boeing $100 million in sales and 1 cent per share in profit."

I read that the Boeing engineers are considering a white-collar strike when their contract is due for negotiation.

I wonder how effective my company would be if I had employees who could prevent me from being nimble in a very competitive marketplace, and I wonder how much I'd value those employees.

I also wonder if a union employee, who establishes their own business, would hire other union employees and the challenges that go with them.

I wonder.

-- Conrad Rupp, Renton

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October 21, 2008 3:43 PM

John McCain's bailout

Posted by Kate Riley

Let's just print more money

Sen. John McCain accused Sen. Barack Obama of being a socialist, yet McCain wants to extend the $700 billion bailout an additional $300 billion to cover bad mortgages.

Where is this money going to come from? If he's not going to tax the rich more, is the U.S. Treasury just going to print the money?

Too bad "Joe the Plumber" isn't "Joe the Gardener," because if McCain wins he may need a wheelbarrow to bring his money to the store and buy some bread and toilet paper.

-- Russ Lauron, Everett

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October 21, 2008 3:39 PM

Sarah Palin and gay marriage

Posted by Kate Riley

Why are we going backward?

According to ["Palin breaks with McCain on gay marriage amendment," Politics & Government, Oct. 20], Gov. Sarah Palin is everything but a "maverick," as she so commonly refers to herself.

She's stuck in the old times of believing homosexuality is a one-way ticket to hell. Christianity says that God is the only one who can judge us, his "children," and to treat others as we would have them treat us.

And Palin believes she is one of the better candidates for vice president? I, along with many of my peers, don't want a selfish and heartless "pit bull" to be my potential president.

Being gay is not the same as being a murderer, so why outlaw same-sex marriage? Banning same-sex marriages is not only a violation of homosexuals' rights, but also overextends the government's power. As a "maverick," Palin should support gays and lesbians in their decisions and bring about change in the world.
Homosexuals are citizens too, or is Palin saying that we should only count them as part of a person, just like the three-fifths compromise?

-- Marianne Luna, Brier

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October 20, 2008 4:21 PM

Times' Rossi endorsement

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Erika Shultz / The Seattle Times

Gov. Christine Gregoire acknowledges the crowd as she arrives at Sen. Joe Biden's appearance at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium Sunday.

Drinking the GOP Kool-Aid
Editor, The Times:
The Times has obviously been drinking the GOP (please don't call it Republican) Kool-Aid ["Dino Rossi for governor," Times, editorial, Oct. 19].

By electing gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, their endorsement suggests, Washingtonians can have everything Rossi says his opponent cannot deliver: a strong economy, good schools, less traffic, lower property taxes, small business growth, sex-offender-free streets and the return of the Sonics.

We needn't worry our heads about trivial issues like stem-cell research, access to contraception or a woman's right to choose, because they have nothing whatsoever to do with the states -- the U.S. Supreme Court has seen to that.

By voting Gov. Christine Gregoire out of office, we can also help the Building Industry Association of Washington's well-funded dream of unencumbered development -- no pesky environmental regulations to bother with.

And to think, we can have all this for free because Rossi will never raise our taxes! I feel better already.
-- Maggie Harada, Woodinville

Misleading and reprehensible
Like other law-enforcement officials around the state, I am outraged and offended by the latest ads in the governor's race.

The ads blaming Gov. Christine Gregoire for 1,300 homeless sex offenders represent some of the most misleading and reprehensible political attacks I have ever seen. In truth, Gregoire has done more to track and hold sex offenders accountable than any other governor during my lifetime. In fact, the number of missing registered sex offenders has dropped by more than 300 during her tenure.

As a legislator, I worked with Gregoire to pass HB 2407 to put in place GPS monitoring for the worst sex offenders. This was just one out of more than 25 sex-offender laws that the governor signed during her first term, and that doesn't even include the creation of Operation Crackdown, a new program to track and punish sex offenders who fail to register.

As a sheriff, I will personally attest to Gregoire's dedication to public safety and tell you that she is the best partner the law-enforcement community has ever had in the governor's office. Those who care about the safety of our communities would be unwise not to re-elect her.
-- John Lovick, Mill Creek

We can't afford more of the same
Four years of failed leadership in Olympia has left our state in a hurting and vulnerable position for these impending economic hard times. We need a leader who looks to the future and makes decisions that will help the state, with a long-term perspective preparing for good economic times and bad.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has done nothing but tax and spend since she's been in office and quite frankly I am very mad. The people of this state can't afford another four years of reckless behavior. Yes she may have given funding in large quantities to more agencies, programs and public works but she did so with the notion that the economy would never slow down. Because of her reckless spending we are now facing the largest budget deficit in state history, $3.2 billion, and if elected again she will raise our taxes to try to fix it.

What we need is gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and his business skills to make our state government run more efficiently to save much-needed money and resources during these trying times.

Let's face it, we can't afford to pay more taxes, and each of us is buckling down and trying to save money. Isn't it time our government does the same?
-- Ian Peter, Bonney Lake

Just another Bush
The Seattle Times endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi reminds me of a time eight years ago.

You endorsed President George W. Bush, the "compassionate conservative" then.

We have seen how "compassionate" this administration has been.

If elected, Rossi will not raise taxes, but he will gut every program that involves helping other humans that he can get his hands on.

Don't be fooled, this is another Bush-type Republican.
-- Jack Nolan, Shoreline

Not yesterday's trash
I could not believe my eyes when I saw my newspaper endorsing gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

Have you forgotten that he is currently under investigation for misuse of [campaign] funds? Have you forgotten that the prime duty of Washington state is to uphold a solid education system? Rossi balanced the budget by cutting the COLA [ cost-of-living allowance] to teachers and forced us to keep teaching classes of 32-36 kids per class. What are you thinking?

Your reasons for not giving Gov. Christine Gregoire a chance to see what she can do in a recession simply stink. "Well, we've had the Democrats in power for too long so now it's time to try a Republican..." "She promised to keep state employees health-care contributions at 12 percent ..." That was before the economic chaos of the past few weeks.

She has proved to be a smart and fair governor and does not deserve to be tossed out like yesterday's trash just because you want to try out a one-shot wonder who promises to balance our budget by cutting education and health care.
--Kathleen Koler, Lake Forest Park

Not again
Are you out of your collective, ever-loving minds?

Hopefully your readers will remember that you endorsed President George W. Bush -- something that should give every Washingtonian pause!
-- Ruth Quiban, Seattle

With his ax to the grind
I was disappointed to see your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor.

I think he's just a reactionary with an ax to grind, despite the carefully-crafted warm and caring facade we see in his ads, with not much to offer besides criticism.

For example, here's what The Bellingham Herald said in a Sunday editorial after holding meetings with Rossi and Gov. Gregoire:

"... Rossi lacked specifics when talking about how he would tackle the future budget deficit. He promised that as governor, he would 'open up the lid on the agencies' and be able to look inside and find cost savings. But despite repeated questions, Rossi could give no examples of what programs or agencies he would cut in order to balance the budget. We were surprised.

"Not only is Rossi familiar with the state's budget from having written the state Senate version in 2003, but he has been running for governor basically full-time since 2004. After he lost that year's close election, it was obvious that he was planning on challenging Gregoire again this year. In all that time you would think he would have thought of some obvious proposals for state programs that could and should be trimmed."

Gregoire has made progress in important areas, achievements the Herald editorial summarized well.
-- Jeffrey Borsecnik, Bellingham

Do unto Washington what Bush has done to you
I am very disappointed with Gov. Christine Gregoire as she has not been sufficiently aggressive against gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

She had been doing a fairly good job as governor until the President George W. Bush policies, favored by Rossi, tanked the nation's economy.

Washington, like all other states, have faced predictions of reduced revenues. The government's decision to reduce federal money available to states has also contributed to our current situation.

It is well past time that Gregoire stand up and clearly confront Rossi and his allies about trying to glue her to Bush's coattails. People need to know that Rossi will do unto Washington what Bush has done to the entire country.

And is Rossi really getting a salary from his own foundation? He really is a chronically dubious candidate.
-- Marc DeMartini, Seattle

Rely on the facts
I expected The Seattle Times to endorse gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor. After all, the editorial board has hardly made a secret of their disdain for the estate tax, and while not specifically mentioned Sunday, it truly was the elephant in the room.

What I did not expect to see was such a narrow opinion, seemingly without consideration for the accomplishments, reputation and conduct of the candidates involved.

To gloss over the topic of education with a single reference, "in December 06 Gregoire proposed a new two-year budget -- it was a happy one with raises for teachers," shows either a lack of interest, or a lack of understanding as to how important this issue is to parents across our state.

You would be hard pressed to find a PTA [Parent-Teacher Association] parent who doesn't understand what a friend Gov. Christine Gregoire has been to public education.

To omit any mention of the ongoing investigation led by Attorney General McKenna into the campaign-finance dealings between BIAW and Rossi is puzzling.

But to ignore the controversy surrounding Rossi's false and misleading sex-offender ads, which have infuriated law-enforcement agencies from Snohomish to Spokane, is unbelievable.

While Rossi may be the "best Republican candidate for governor in a long time," he's certainly not the best candidate for governor.

My hope is that the voters of Washington state will rely on facts to make their decision.

If they do, we'll welcome back Gov. Gregoire for another four years.
-- Diane Smith, Bellevue

Be careful what you wish for
The Democratic Party wasn't given power for the last 24 years. The people of Washington state elected Democrats into office. It's what's known as democracy.

Rossi may be the best Republican candidate for governor in a long time, but he isn't the best candidate for governor today.

The budget sets the direction for our state, and I can see why it garnered most of The Times' focus. But we are not simply electing someone who can add and subtract; we are electing a leader.

Governing is about having a social conscience and a vision for education, the environment, health care, transportation and equal rights.

In an interview with The Seattle Times, Rossi said that he is not campaigning on the issue of gay rights or choice ["Transcript of interviews with Gregoire, Rossi on social issues," News, Sept. 10]. Why? Because the majority of Washington disagrees with him. Rossi may not be running on the issues, but he will act on them if elected into office.

Finally, a word of caution: Change isn't good or bad. On the national stage, the last eight years were nothing but bad change followed by worse change. Be careful what you wish for.
-- Mollie Price, Seattle

How's that working out for you?
I am disgusted and appalled, but not especially surprised, by your endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi for governor.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has done an excellent job and ably represents the people of Washington.

Rossi is a fraud who deceives people into thinking he's a moderate Republican in the Dan Evans mold.

However, Rossi is a doctrinaire President George W. Bush conservative who will not even use the Republican Party label on the ballot, preferring to hide behind the ridiculous redundancy, "GOP Party." He has done this because his research shows that many people don't know what GOP means.

As a part-time worker, I depend on Washington State Basic Health to cover my minimal health-care needs. I am very concerned that Rossi, in his zeal to do the bidding of the BIAW, and cut their taxes, will cut into the Basic Health Plan.

Thanks to Gregoire's hard work, we have finally achieved legislation protecting gay rights. Look for "party party" Rossi to go after gay rights and roll back what we have accomplished.

It's worth noting that The Times endorsed Former President Ronald Reagan in 1980 and in 1984. We are now reaping the harvest of his stupid "free-market" policies. You also endorsed President George W. Bush in 2000.

How's that working out for you?

It's distressing to see you support a man who represents only the most conservative among us and holds liberals and moderates in contempt.

You have been fooled, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope Washington state does not suffer too much as a result of your shoddy judgment.
-- Marc Szeftel, Burien

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October 20, 2008 4:18 PM

Barack Obama's tax plan

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We are sick of it
We have all listened intently to Sen. Barack Obama in his addresses, speeches and in his presidential debates.

He has a clear unmistakable message: He wants to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. He wants to cut taxes for small businesses, because small business is the engine that drives the economy that provides jobs for 95 percent of Americans.

He said that all small businesses earning less than $250,000 would not have tax increases. And businesses earning $150,000 or less would get tax cuts. We all heard him over and over again making all of this crystal clear.

Sen. John McCain has either lost his hearing or is plainly telling lies at his meetings. He is telling his constituents Obama is going to "kill" small business, because he is going to raise their taxes, and put them out of business.

It is a shocking state of affairs, that a respectable gentleman like McCain would stoop to this kind of conduct just to get votes.

I am appalled by the negativity and nitpicking of both McCain and his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin.
Why don't they have a good plan for the good of the country?

Stop the lies, stop the nitpicking. We are all sick of it.

Do we want a leader who tells lies to stay popular, or a leader whose word we can trust?
-- Jim McKinley

Please raise taxes
I am a high-income voter whose tax bracket will increase if Sen. Barack Obama's proposals are enacted into law. It is easy to resent paying higher taxes for policies I oppose. But it is even easier to overlook government's successes.

My mother's life was saved because of federal taxes. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. She remains disease-free.

The research that led to her diagnosis and lifesaving treatment was funded by federal taxpayers. The universities and medical schools that trained her doctors were funded by the taxpayers. The nurses, radiology technicians and pharmacists were able to attend professional school due to federal student loans. Federal money helped to build the chemotherapy clinic. Medicare paid for the lion's share of her treatment and the highway on which she traveled to reach the clinic was federally constructed.

I want similar benefits to be there for my children.

Those of us who have profited the most from America's greatness have a civic responsibility to ensure its fiscal future.

I will vote for Obama/Biden in 2008.
--Dorcas Dobie, Sammamish

Small business makes the world go 'round
As a small-business owner, I am pleased that Sen. Barack Obama will reduce my taxes.

While the future looks good to expand my business, I need extra cash flow these next two years, especially with the banks cutting off credit.

I am sure many other small business are in the same situation. Sen. John McCain's tax plan will benefit large businesses, but will hurt small ones.
-- Robert Hermanson, Lynnwood

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October 19, 2008 4:43 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

Gov. Christine Gregoire, shown here arriving at a Northwest Harvest event earlier this year, has been battered by ads sponsored by the Building Industry Association of Washington.

Money for something
Editor, The Times:
$6.3 million -- that's a lot of money.

If we spent this on local schools, it would be a real boost for teachers' salaries or doubling the size of libraries.

But this is the amount of money that one group, the Building Industry Association or Washington, is spending to slime the reputation of the incumbent governor.

Strange. I've always viewed Washington state politics as in the same realm as Minnesota or Vermont, not Texas or New Jersey.

But BIAW's role in this gubernatorial election is slimy, nasty and beyond the call.

As the front-page story in Friday's paper indicates ["Rossi's biggest backer explains what it wants," page one, Oct. 17], there have been many unsuccessful attempts at discouraging BIAW in their role as the pitchman for dirty politics. If legislative, executive and legal challenges can't deter BIAW from their dastardly deeds, what can be done?

Clean and publicly-funded elections. Yes, this is an effective solution to BIAW's slime machine.
Here is how it would work: Candidates for public office would have the choice of groveling for dollars from the usual special-interest groups (like BIAW) or tapping into a state fund to finance their campaigns.

If a candidate chooses to run "clean," he/she must commit to not accept any money from any source.

A clean candidate must gather a set number (about 250 for a legislative seat) of commitments from local
constituents, plus a small ($5) contribution.

If in the course of the campaign, the clean candidate's opponent is funded directly or indirectly by special interests, state election officials can level the financial playing field by offering the clean candidate matching funds that mirror the amount given his/her opponent.

This matching-funds feature is slightly different in Maine, Arizona and North Carolina, where clean elections has existed for several years.

In Maine, Arizona and North Carolina, BIAW would be crippled in their attempt to buy elections the way it is trying to do here because special-interest money has been moved from clean-election states to other states.

Think of it from BIAW's perspective: It's not easy to run against a clean candidate who can say: "I'm not bought and paid for. What you get is what you see. I'm running on specific issues not influenced by any outside money or interests."

Publicly funded campaigns work. There is a better way.

Let's dump BIAW's ways of intimidation and demagoguery.
-- Roger Lauen, Bainbridge Island

Think local
This election must be quite a quandary for Washington Democrats, who are vehemently opposed to Sen. John McCain.

Their opposition is, for the most part, due to their belief that McCain will continue the economic policies of President George W. Bush; policies that they claim have resulted in the current economic crisis.

Given this mindset, the choice of whether or not to vote for Gov. Christine Gregoire, under whose leadership this state has amassed a $3.2 billion deficit, would appear to be a no-brainer.

Yet, despite this recent revelation, Democrats are still doing all they can to get Gregoire re-elected, including filing frivolous lawsuits against gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in order to derail his second successful bid for governor.

Ask any Sen. Barack Obama supporter, and that person will tell you that a vote for Obama is in the best interest of American citizens.

Ironically, what's in the best interest of Washingtonians doesn't appear to be of much concern.
-- Marina Anna Baker, Bremerton

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October 19, 2008 4:41 PM

Student loans

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

So much for an education
As a senior in high school who may soon face the need for student loans, I am disgusted by the actions of Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Richard Fuld.

As reported recently ["Lehman exec defends big bonuses," Times, News, Oct. 7], Fuld accepted a five-year, $350 million compensation package, while allowing his company to go bankrupt, which then set off a series of other financial failures leading to the current economic crisis.

While big corporations waste billions daily, America's college students face the challenge of securing student loans in a down-turned economy.

Your front-page story ["Students feeling economy's crunch," News, Oct. 6) points out that student loans are increasingly difficult to secure, thanks to the credit crunch. It is unthinkable that prospective students can't get funding for college while corporate executives are earning obscene salaries.

Companies like Lehman Brothers or others looking for bailout do not deserve our money.

We, as a country, must not let high-ranking officials like Fuld waste enormous sums of money while students are being denied college loans.

The idea that I might not get loan money for my education while high-ranking officials use taxpayer money for spa treatments makes me sick.
-- Nick Crnko, Seattle

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October 19, 2008 4:39 PM

Gasoline prices

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Waiting for pigs to fly
Oil closed below $70 a barrel today.

Unless you're looking for that news, you probably don't care or didn't hear that.

Back on July 11 of this year, oil was selling for $147.27 a barrel and gasoline was selling for $4.11 a gallon.

Lets do some quick math here.

If the price of a barrel of oil has dropped by 50 percent, shouldn't we be seeing gas selling for around $2.05 soon?

We all know how fast the price rises, right? When do you think we'll see the price drop under $2.50?

Personally, I'm waiting for pigs to fly.
-- Steve Drake, Seattle

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October 19, 2008 4:36 PM

Farmworkers and immigration

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Should we revert to slavery?
If you buy Richard Delgado's argument that illegal immigrants means cheaper food for us ["Crackdown on illegal immigration boosts food prices," guest commentary, Oct. 15], then why not go back to the time when slavery meant even cheaper goods and services? Unfortunately, Delgado ignores the fundamental point that bothers many of us: Illegal aliens are here illegally and that has to be addressed.

If there was the will within the business community and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to develop a legal, controlled system to meet shortages of labor in targeted fields, it would happen at light speed. Unfortunately, these groups wanted the current unregulated system to flood the entire labor market with low-wage earners with no rights and no recourse. They aggressively fight any programs like eVerify, which would at least help ensure that jobs go only to people legally here.

Now that the public is sufficiently riled up and pushing back, and the government is finally enforcing the laws on the books, business is crying foul.

I'm sorry if I don't feel sorry for them. They trashed their tent, now they should live with the consequences until we can fix it the right way.

Delgado's point that Latin American immigrants are good, hardworking and honest people is one thing I agree with wholeheartedly. But it doesn't eliminate the fact that they are here illegally as the victims of callous exploitation. I'm hoping that when everyone gets down to resolving this mess, some reasonable accommodation can be reached for those families that have been here for many years while making sure we don't face this again in a few years.

If we could clean up the labor-shortage issue in a rational manner with legal and controlled worker programs, we would have several other beneficial results, including: reducing the size of the hidden (nontax paying) economy; reducing the exploitation of workers my unscrupulous employers; reducing the number of crime victims; and reducing the flow of illegal substances into our communities.

One thing I learned living in Eastern Washington is that when you have a veritable river of illegal immigrants flowing through the community, it provides perfect cover for those importing drugs and contraband.
This is a solvable problem, but it needs to be dealt with honestly by all parties involved.

Just as there is a cultural shift when a community changes, values shift when a large percentage of the population is by definition illegal.
-- Bob Larson, Renton

Hire our children instead
In extolling the economic benefits of illegal-alien agricultural labor, Seattle University law professor Richard Delgado, in effect, serves up the tiresomely familiar "lettuce argument": If illegal aliens aren't working the fields, lettuce will cost consumers $5 per head.

But UC Davis agricultural economist Philip Martin has shown that the field-labor cost included in a $1 head of lettuce is about $.06

Thus, we could triple wages for picking the crops -- at which point Americans would do the jobs -- and the cost of a head of lettuce would rise by 12 percent.
The numbers are similar for other crops.

So a family that spends $15 per week on produce would shell out about $100 more per year, a negligible tab for ending what's virtually modern-day slave labor.

Citizens taking such jobs needn't regard them as careers. Instead, these jobs are worthy introductions to the world of work for youngsters -- and obviously preferable alternatives to our teenagers' current regime of aimlessly cruising malls and getting fat.

I did similarly menial, but worthwhile, tasks when I was a kid.
-- Paul Nachman, Bozeman, Montana

It's not about immigration
If his piece "Crackdown on illegal immigration boosts food prices," is any indication, professor Richard Delgado needs to stick to teaching critical-race theory, and leave agricultural economics to the professionals.

Produce is more expensive now due to dramatic increases in fuel prices, coupled with the fact that we often eat produce grown thousands of miles away, not because the government is finally beginning to enforce our immigration laws.

It is well-established that farm-labor costs constitute a small percentage of retail produce costs.

It is further well-established that when cheap labor is not available, farmers modernize their operations and use equipment instead.

Look at the aftermath of the elimination of the bracero program in California; at the time, consumers were told that they would no longer have tomatoes.

Needless to say, that did not happen.
-- Margaret Manning, Eastsound

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October 19, 2008 4:34 PM

Failing high-schoolers

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Give them support
I read "Seattle high-schoolers can now get failing grades" [News, Oct. 12] with dismay.

Neither teachers nor students should face more consequences for student failure. Both need support.

If one of the main purposes of the WASL [Washington Assessment of Student Learning] is to highlight those students who need additional assistance, then it is our obligation to provide it.

Let's put the money behind the test scores for teacher training and student support. Too many educators lay awake at night worried about their failing students, but have limited training on differentiating instruction to support them.

No student enters kindergarten labeled as lazy. That's what society calls a frustrated student who has given up after repeated failure only to adopt an attitude to cover the frustration.

Washington state has one of the most highly regarded K-12 reading models in the country. It was developed by the Curriculum and Instruction division of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Since it is not mandated, few Washington state teachers even know of the plan. If the practices were followed, fewer students would be failing.

It is shameful to continue testing the victims when a powerful resource is so accessible.
-- Karolyn Backholm, Seattle

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October 19, 2008 4:32 PM

Math education

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Let's talk about it
There is no question that mathematics education in the U.S. and in Washington state needs improving ["A formula for lifting Washington out of its math mess," guest commentary, Oct. 12]. There is also no question that a return to the good old days of teaching students skills minus an understanding of what those skills can be used for is not the remedy needed. The author cites impressive statistics, based on results of Advanced Placement (AP) tests. Yet voices from all over the world, including Singapore, are reporting more and more convincingly that gearing education to the passing of such tests fails the students in serious ways.

Why do we live in a society where so many enjoy doing Sudoko math puzzles without making the connection that the thinking required to work out the puzzle is a vital ingredient of mathematics?

Unlike Ted Nutting, few of us who favor mathematics-education reform would advocate discarding other people's ideas in favor of our own.

There is a large overlap between traditional mathematics teaching done well and reform mathematics teaching done well. What many of us, including [Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction ] Terry Bergeson are aiming for is incorporating the underlying tenets of the reform -- that is, engaging students in building their own understanding and formulating mathematical ideas clearly enough so that they can discuss them, to strengthen the teaching of mathematics.

Take a look at the work of the Washington State Education Coordinating Council, where administrators, higher-education faculty members, teachers, business stakeholders and Bergeson and her staff are working together to create a K-20 mathematics system that builds on the strengths of both traditional and reform mathematics teaching. The task is complex, challenging and at times frustrating. What makes it possible is the breadth of perspective and knowledge of the community working, and the respect with which we hold each other.

Progress is impeded by those who, like Nutting, allow the perception of their own infallibility to permit the unleashing of accusations and slurs, demonstrating a lack of respect essential for civil discourse.

Our schools can benefit from the rich collection of knowledge and research in Washington state, but we will not make any progress without a baseline of respect for all viewpoints regarding the learning of mathematics.
-- Virginia Warfield, Seattle

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October 19, 2008 4:31 PM

Federal bailout

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We have the gold
Let me get this straight. The U.S. Treasury (aka; we, the taxpayers) is planning to invest billions in six banks nationwide in an effort to "bail out" the U.S. economy. Now, Treasury officials want to exempt these same banks from executive-compensation restrictions included in that bailout legislation passed by Congress.

The last time I checked, legislation passed by Congress was still the law of the land, and this bailout clearly specifies executive-compensation restrictions to be imposed on any and all recipients of this taxpayer beneficence.

If the Treasury secretary and bank executives are unwilling to accept the terms of the bailout, then Congress needs to place a stop-payment on this very generous blank check.

If the Treasury and the banks want our money, they need to abide by our conditions. If they are unwilling to accept our conditions, they need to bail themselves out.

The golden rule in business is, "He who has the gold makes the rules."

At this moment in time, the taxpayers have the proverbial "gold" -- so let's hold them to the rules.
-- Paula Joneli, Des Moines

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October 19, 2008 4:28 PM

King County budget

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Someday it may be you
Recently, King County Executive Ron Sims announced a proposal for the King County budget that includes large cuts in human-services funding.

While I realize we are facing a potential budget shortfall due to the downturn in the economy, human-services funding is exactly the wrong area to make cuts.

When times are tough, the people who rely on services like food programs, in-home care for the elderly or disabled and county-funded charities need help even more.

Not only is it altruistic to aid these vulnerable people; on a purely financial basis it is cheaper to keep them comfortable in their own homes instead of ending up in demoralizing group homes or even on the street where more expensive emergency programs will have to take care of them.

Contact Sims and the King County Council and tell them not to cut aid to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Someday it may be you or your relatives that need these programs.
-- Scott M. Taylor, Seattle

Cuts will destroy human services
I wish people would recognize that cutting human-service programs results in expensive consequences ["Who will fall victim to cuts? news, Oct. 13].

If there are not support systems for citizens, rates of substance abuse, mental illnesses and crime rates will increase. Emergency rooms will become overcrowded, jails will become full, more people will die of unnecessary illnesses that millions of dollars on research is being spent to prevent, and children will not excel academically.

Cutting funds to human services guarantees a weakened society. It will not provide individuals with support systems to develop skills ensuring they keep up with a rapidly changing world.

If it weren't for human-service agencies that helped me when I became homeless, I would not be where I am today with a home, a job and a degree.

A community should be built focused on what individuals need to be healthy emotionally, physically, cognitively, socially and spiritually. This will allow for a stable society.
-- Pam LaVergne, Lynnwood

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October 18, 2008 4:08 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Oct. 12.

Christian, Catholic or vegetarian;
Keep it to yourself

Editor, The Times:
I was wondering if anyone else watching the debate Wednesday evening felt their blood pressure rise when Sen. John McCain began to talk about his anti-abortion stance ["Accusations fly in final debate," Times, page one, Oct. 16].

Since he is not a woman, and could be in a position to influence women all over the nation, I feel it's inappropriate and very disturbing to hear him counsel on how "he will work it out" on finding a family for the child that you or I will carry for nine months.

Like many other individual personal and physical decisions for women and men, I would hope that people who are anti-abortion would keep this to themselves.

I would never begin to pretend that I understand the physical needs of a stranger.

So if you are a Christian, Catholic or vegetarian, these are your beliefs. That's great. Apply your beliefs to your body not mine.

Our bodies are not a shared national resource.

McCain, I am 100 percent certain that should you make it to the oval office, you are not qualified to make decisions about my body.

This is not debatable.
-- Karen Quarre, Woodinville

Freedom in opportunity
I'm writing this letter to ask that you support Sen. John McCain when you vote this year. McCain is what this country needs in a president.

He has the experiences of a lifetime to face reforms we need today. I am sure he will see us through the hardships that are coming our way.

We all must work together to get through the Wall Street bailout and again become a productive nation. It's time to work as a team regardless of the party we support. America has been in crisis for the last few years; we have failed to resolve the issues we face because of party politics and the inability to trust who we are as a nation.

We failed to correct the Social Security crisis, transportation issues and the security of a nation that is at war.

Our children face even more issues related to the failure of Congress to address the need to build a nation that is true to its people and it's history -- not just a community of do-good policies that fail to address the true meaning of reform that unites us.

This is no time to continue playing the blame games and failing to follow up on what needs to be done.

We become a nation that supports a culture of death, that lacks the ability to support the meaning of protecting life.

Our health-care system is more about management of the crisis with respect to access to care rather than treating one's health problems.

Our doctors have been forced to limit how they provide access to care and are more managers of wellness than advocates in treatment. Our education system is divided and only supports the smartest rather than building equality. Our children face a nation at risk that lacks true leadership to resolve the crises we find ourselves in today.

They are being told that it's time not to address the issues, but also to only look for what feels right. Reform is not just about hope or change for the sake changing. To continue on this road is surely going to lead us to no more than a misdirected path of continued failures and hopeless policies.

It's time for reform that brings us together and also respects life and the true meaning of freedom in opportunity.
-- Gregory Lemke, Arlington

Poor Joe
Let me get this straight. An honest and hardworking single parent asks a legitimate question during a campaign rally ["Joe the plumber's story isn't watertight," News, Oct. 17].

It is the telling answer by the candidate that is repeated and analyzed by the other party and affiliated blogs, yet the media swoops down on the man, ridicules him nationwide, publicly reveals his financial affairs and ultimately threatens his job -- all because he believes that hard work should be rewarded, not punished by higher taxes.

A sad day indeed.
--Edda Kuhlmann, Bellevue

Not another maverick, please
The debates are over. Now comes the solemn responsibility of every voter, to elect the next president and vice president of the U.S.

We must consider what we have seen and heard during the campaigns. Sen. Barack Obama has been calm and has presented a cogent message at each debate.

Unfortunately, Sen. John McCain seemed to exhibit a different aspect of his personality at each debate.
My least favorite was the dour man who refused to look at his opponent during one debate. Is that really who we want representing our country?

Or someone who refers to his opponent as "that one"?

Our next president will need to court needed allies that have been repulsed by our foreign policy over the past eight years.

Our next president will need to implement diplomacy to achieve nuclear-proliferation agreements with North Korea and Iran -- tasks at which the current administration continues to fail.

McCain's many faces makes me think he will do whatever it takes to win the election.

My vote is for Obama, who has acted presidential throughout his campaign. The U.S. does not need another "maverick."
-- Robert Lynn, Bellevue

Let's get the full story on ACORN
Shame on the media for printing John McCain's slanderous remarks against ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) without including a fact-check ["Palin criticizes Obama over ACORN, view of America," Politics & Government, Oct. 16].

I've heard of ACORN's good work in helping low-income Americans with housing, and also with political empowerment through voter-registration drives.

And keep in mind that only the government can register people to vote -- not ACORN, not political parties nor any other group.

Granted, the story in The Seattle Times does soften McCains's remarks a bit by referring to these as ". . . hyperbolically raising the threat beyond what the evidence supports."

But the media should have interviewed ACORN for their side of the story.

The group hired workers to help with voter-registration drives. Unfortunately, a few of these hired hands embezzled money from ACORN by falsifying records.

If you own a business and employees embezzle from you by falsifying documents, you are the victim.
Further, ACORN turned these forms into the government as required by law, but alerted the government to the fact that they thought some of the voter-registration forms looked suspicious.

ACORN was helping the government do its job.

I hope ACORN sues McCain for slander.
-- Marjorie Rhodes, Seattle

So much for freedom
We do not need to secure ourselves against terrorists who seek to take away our freedoms. Our country is doing it for us.

Three years ago, Congress approved the renewal of the Patriot Act. So much for habeas corpus, the right to have one's day in court.

Two years ago today, the democratically controlled Congress approved the Military Commissions Act. So much for the Posse Comitatus Act, our right to not have our military used against us.

Without these rights we cannot call ourselves a free country.

As our Founding Fathers knew, the greatest threat to our freedom is our own government.

Conservatives say they want government to quit interfering with our lives and yet they gave the government the right to arrest any American for no reason, label him or her an enemy combatant -- so long habeas corpus.

Liberals declaim the internment camps of WWII and yet they voted for the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act.

I am so ashamed of the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and the detentions at Guantánamo.
Ben Franklin once said "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Elizabeth Franklin, Seattle

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October 18, 2008 4:05 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We're no tin-pot town
Amid all the clamor surrounding the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns, there's one thing many people seem to have lost sight of: Great damage is done whenever one party controls everything, no matter which party holds the reins.

To anyone who looks at the issue without the filter of partisan hatred, it's a very dangerous thing to hand total control to one ideological group and leave the other out in the cold. That defeats the entire purpose of the check-and-balance system our forefathers put in place, and effectively disenfranchises large segments of the population.

This is not the best way to make government responsive to the needs of the people, especially given the propensity of legislators at all levels to pander to those special-interest groups and individuals who paid to get them elected.

Washington has been controlled by one party for years.

Because of the overwhelming imbalance toward the left in King County, the result is a huge state deficit and some of the highest taxes (and lowest return on those taxes) in the country.

Our state government is out of control and out of touch.

In order to maintain some semblance of representative government and keep the ideological zeal of the party in power in check, we need to make sure that at least one branch of government, whether it be the House, Senate or executive, remains in the hands of the opposition party.

Otherwise, we're no better than those tin-pot dictatorships where people can vote for anyone they like -- as long as it's the guy in power.
-- Winston Rockwell, Kirkland

Go back where you came from
Of course the BIAW-sponsored ads about the casinos are racist ["Spokane Tribe upset about casino ads," Politics & Government, Oct. 10].

I don't understand where the state would have any claim to revenues from a business run by a sovereign nation. One would think the citizens of Washington would be glad the tribes have developed an industry to provide jobs and social services to their member.

Maybe we should just give the land back to the tribes and go back to where we came from?
-- Craig Illman, Seattle

Family-leave insurance is still around
The Seattle Times' Oct. 15 editorial misinterpreted Gov. Christine Gregoire's temporary suspension of family-leave-insurance startup funding ["The Times recommends ... Carlyle, Pettigrew, White in districts 36, 37, 46, Times, editorial].

Legislators funded initial costs for the program, to the tune of $6.2 million in the 2008 supplemental budget.
While development of the computer system needed to administer it has been suspended, the program remains on the books.

In the past week, the governor, House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown have each reiterated their support for finding a funding source outside the general fund and implementing paid family leave. They, like tens of thousands of Washington's families, understand that this program will provide economic relief for middle-class families and give all our children the best start in life.

Given national economic trends, we want an even stronger family-leave plan in the future, with more-comprehensive benefits to ensure working families stay out of poverty during tough economic times. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the coming legislative session to fully fund this crucial program, making Washington a better place to live, work and raise a family.
-- Sen. Karen Keiser, Rep. MaryLou Dickerson

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October 18, 2008 4:03 PM

8th District congressional race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Be consistent
I was thrilled and encouraged by your endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president ["The endorsement game: how the process works," Editorial column, Sept. 21].

You stated that Obama is "a little young, but brilliant."

You further stated that if he seems "brainy and professorial, that's OK. We need the leader of the free world to think things through, carefully."

And, you contend, that "on numerous issues, from media consolidation to health care, Obama… makes up for a thin resume with integrity, judgment and fresh ideas."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Yet, there is another candidate in Washington who you have overlooked.

That candidate is also "young, but brilliant", and "thinks things through carefully" and "makes up for a thin resume with integrity, judgment and fresh ideas.

I am therefore confused and disappointed that you did not extend your logic and endorse the congressional candidate who possesses the identical qualities as Obama: Darcy Burner for Congress.

Burner is definitely "brilliant. " She has "fresh ideas," and she is also in step with Obama's positions on the war, education, energy and the economy. Burner has proposed a detailed plan for moving the troops out of Iraq, which was part of your rationale for endorsing Obama.

If we truly want change in Washington, we need Burner to work for it. I have no doubt that, if elected, she will do just that.
-- Kathy Rule, Mercer Island

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October 18, 2008 4:00 PM

Carnation killings

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Die with dignity
I am writing to comment about King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg's intention to seek the death penalty for Joseph McEnroe and Michele Anderson, who had confessed to killing six members of Anderson's family on Christmas Eve ["Carnation killings: Defense vows fight to save life of suspect who asked to die," page one, Oct. 17].

First of all, Gary Ridgway killed many more people and was not considered for the death penalty. It is inconsistent to seek the death penalty for McEnroe and Anderson.

My guess is that the only reason McEnroe is being considered for the death penalty is because of the unfortunate (for him) situation that Anderson insists she wants the death penalty.

God can forgive McEnroe and Anderson if they are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Hopefully they will take advantage of this opportunity.

Even if they are confined to prison for the rest of their lives, they can still live meaningful, loving lives among the rest of the inmates and die with dignity.
-- Mike Marley, Seattle

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October 18, 2008 3:58 PM

Starved 14-year-old

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Revoke their freedom
Regarding the child-abuse article [".'Never seen a case of abuse this bad,' detective says," Times, page one, Oct. 14], I think $20,000 each for bail is surely is not enough money to let those criminal "parents" out of jail.

According to the King County Superior Court judge, they were "not a threat" to the community nor a flight risk.

What does that really have to do with it?

Do we let killers out of jail because we're pretty sure they won't kill again?

Freedom for these two sadists should be revoked, just as they took away their child's freedom for years.
I don't care how loony that stepmother is; she needs a lot of jail time to remind her how it must have felt ... of course she'll get fed.
-- Jill M. Schultz, Seattle

Give voice to the voiceless
I am absolutely appalled after reading about the 14-year-old Carnation girl who was nearly starved to death by her stepmother and father. I hope that they get punished to the full extent of the law.

This was an open-and-shut case in just one month? How could any questionable situation be evaluated in that amount of time?

I don't know if CPS [Child Protective Services] didn't follow through properly on this or if they went to the limit of what was allowed by law. Either way, something needs to change.

We need to be less worried about "individual rights" and more diligent in protecting those who do not have a voice.
-- Sandi Weir, Kent

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October 18, 2008 3:57 PM

Seattle parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Make up for past mistakes
There are many more compelling arguments to vote for the Seattle Parks levy than The Seattle Times recently had to offer ["Approve Pike Place Market upgrade; reject Seattle Parks levy," editorial, Oct. 7].

This election is the public's chance to tell its government what it wants. By voting yes on Proposition 2, citizens will know that dedicated funding will go to improving their parks.

As Seattle becomes more densely populated we need to make sure we provide the open spaces for reflection, recreation and experiencing nature.

Many neighborhoods in Seattle don't have parks nearby due to the lack of foresight in the old days.

We can only try to make up for that now. Opportunities will be lost if we don't renew the levy. There are many great projects in the levy package that address a wide variety of needs.

Getting a chance to vote on the levy is a chance to decide how important parks and open spaces are to each of us -- and that is a good thing.
-- Bill Farmer, Seattle

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October 18, 2008 3:53 PM

Seattle's mayor and guns

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Concealed permit is a deterrent
The arrogance of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is boundless. As the mayor of the "Peoples Republic of Seattle," he has decided his word is above the law and the constitution of the state of Washington. Article 1, Section 24 and more specifically RCW 9.41.290, state the following: "Due to state pre-emption, no city, town, county or other municipality can restrict your right to keep and bear arms more than the state" ["AG says Nickels' authority restricted on guns," news. Oct. 16].

Washington state issues concealed-carry permits to citizens for a reason: so they can protect themselves.
Nickels' comments that he has a "moral obligation" to make sure there are no guns at Seattle public facilities would be laughable if it weren't pathetic.

In what world is a criminal going to heed Nickels "morality" clause?

What they will do is know that any Seattle public facility is a Greggie-poo "no gun zone" and take advantage of the unarmed sheep.

Having a concealed permit is a deterrent to criminals. The inherent element of doubt of who is carrying makes people think twice.

I, for one, look forward to The Second Amendment Foundation and RKBA [right to keep and bear arms] organizations filing a lawsuit against the mayor.

Nickels is an imbecile whose time in office has lasted too long. Hopefully, the voters are tired of his foolish policies.
-- Mike Ballsmith, Snoqualmie

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October 17, 2008 2:05 PM

Presidential politics: the last debate

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We want to change, not charge
Editor, The Times:
Watching former Navy pilot Sen. John McCain's performance Wednesday night reminded me of another military man's failed strategy.

Like George Armstrong Custer's last stand, McCain was firing in all directions during the debate, but wasn't inflicting any collateral damage to his opponent.

Just as the Sioux warriors methodically closed in on Custer, so too, the economy has closed in on McCain.
I imagine the Arizona senator's instinct is to say "charge" in the face of our financial crisis.

The trouble for McCain is, the public is yelling "change."
-- A. L. Cynton, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Peter will hate Paul
Take from Peter to pay Paul.

That's Barack Obama's promise: "If you vote for me, I'll spread the wealth around."

Naturally, it will work -- as long as there are enough Pauls excited about getting Peter's money.

But wait.

What would my husband and I do with $250,000 a year?

We'd invest in Home Depot, its employees and home values by doing much-needed repairs on our home.

We'd also help my retired parents, who've devoted their lives to ministry and service, by restoring their historic home.

The extra money in our pockets would allow us to give more to our nephew's Diabetes Walk and various other charities serving our community.

Don't be fooled. Under a President Barack Obama, the community would receive only 60 cents of each dollar because of the steep tax increase on our $250,000.

I'm frightened that Obama's "pay the people to vote" notion has never been questioned.

If it's patriotic for the government to take from Peter, the Pauls will be happy in the short term.

Eventually, the Peters will have no money left, which results in mediocrity for all.
-- Sarah Viers, Bothell

We should all be plumbers
Things I learned from Sen. John McCain during the last debate:

If you want to earn a quarter of a million dollars, become a plumber.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Oct. 12.

When you get called on rabble-rousing the scared and frustrated masses akin to what the Nazis did during the Depression or the segregationists in the 1960s -- so that Americans lose sleep worrying that some whacko might be incited to try to assassinate our first black presidential candidate -- pout and demand an apology from the very man whose life you've put at risk.
-- Lesley Reed, Vashon

Crotchety does not belong in the White House
As a Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden supporter, I was quite uneasy during the first three debates.

I was afraid that Sen. John McCain was doing a better job of appealing to Middle America.

You see, as a Democrat and Mariner fan, I'm always concerned that presidential politics and sports will not work out in my favor.

The final debate, however, was no contest.

We saw a president vs. a crotchety old man.
-- Ed Rankin, Seattle

Winking all the way
You may have preferred to have a beer with President George W. Bush or go to a hockey game with Gov. Sarah Palin rather than with their opponents.

But didn't we learn something from the last time we elected Mr. Congeniality rather than Mr. Rationality?
We aren't voting for buddies; we are voting for leaders who have the calm and wisdom to get us out of the mess that an unqualified president got us into.

I sometimes think that some people don't realize that the vice president becomes president in the event of incapacity of the president. He/she must be prepared to deal with a world that has never been so complex in terms of global economics, energy needs, wars in the Middle East, nuclear issues, climate change, population growth and resource limits.

We need someone who not only understands the needs of people, but who can gather the best and brightest minds to address those needs, and who will use that expertise to make calm, rational decisions to resolve problems.

If we truly care about our children, we will learn from our past mistake and elect the Obama-Biden team.

Sen. John McCain made a very selfish decision when he chose Palin as his shiny red convertible to show off.

Cute and fun is insufficient.

President Bush's inability has driven us to the edge. Palin's could drive us over. But she would be smiling and winking all the way.
-- Judy Bevington, Lake Forest Park

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October 17, 2008 2:03 PM

Krauthammer column / Bill Ayers

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We know Obama
I am disappointed that The Times chose to publish Charles Krauthammer's "Obama's associations are indeed relevant" [syndicated column, Oct. 12], in which he repeats the lies and distortions surrounding Sen. Barack Obama's connection to Bill Ayers put forth by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

Yes, Ayers was a radical war protester 30+ years before Obama met him. However, no conclusions about Obama's character can be drawn from that fact, given both who Ayers became in the intervening three decades and the context in which Obama met Ayers.

By the mid-1990s when Obama met him, Ayers was a widely respected "distinguished" professor of education who, in 1997, was named "Chicago citizen of the year" for his work on improving public education.
There is no evidence that Obama was aware of who Ayers was back in the 1960s, and it's inconceivable that the subject of Ayers' past ever came up during the board meetings they attended together.

Furthermore, it's important to note that Krauthammer doesn't cast any similar aspersions on the myriad other community and education leaders who knew and worked with Ayers, including Republican philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

The Annenberg Challenge project to improve public education was supported by politicians and civic leaders from both parties throughout the Chicago area, as was the Woods Fund anti-poverty project.
That Obama was asked to chair the board of the Annenberg project by a Republican demonstrates

Obama's ability to work across party lines for the common good.

And what about the other faculty members at the public university where Ayers is a professor? Are they, as Krauthammer claims of Obama, "[swimming] easily and without protest" in a "fetid pond?" Should they refuse even to shake hands with their colleague, as Krauthammer claims any decent American would? Only in Republican "Newspeak" (George Orwell, 1984) could community service to improve public education and fight poverty be characterized as evidence of Obama's "expediency," "cynicism and ruthlessness," and "sheer indecency."

The claim that Obama needs to be more "honest and open" about his association with Ayers assumes that something is hidden, yet there's not one shred of evidence that there was anything unsavory about their interactions whatsoever -- nothing even remotely related to Ayers' radical past and nothing that Obama should have any reason to hide. Obama worked with a leading education professional on projects to improve education and reduce poverty.

End of story.
-- Paula Bennett, Seattle

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October 17, 2008 2:01 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity / assisted suicide

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Do they really need approval?
Initiative 1000 would give despondent people no power they do not now have, but would implicate us all in their decision to kill themselves ["How we die: the Oregon experience," page one, Oct. 13].

According to the Washington state Department of Health, "814 Washington State residents died by suicide" in 2005. They evidently did so without interference from the government, politicians and religious leaders against whom the proponents of I-1000 warn us.

Anyone capable of self-administering lethal drugs, as the initiative specifies, is capable of killing himself without a doctor's prescription.

I-1000 would add only one element: our approval.

If the law and the public say suicide is all right, such "legitimacy" may well be the final argument that convinces a sick person to end his life, especially when the prestigious medical profession seems to endorse such a choice.

This initiative offers less than nothing to the sick, but would make us all complicit in despair.

I hope the people of Washington reject it.
-- James O'Callaghan, Maple Valley

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October 17, 2008 1:59 PM

Initiative 1029: caregiver training

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

It's not all about the money
The Seattle Times has recommended rejection of Initiative 1029 purely on concerns about cost and that a test would frighten immigrants ["Reject I-1029, a proposal to train and license long-term-care workers," Editorial, Oct. 8].

To appreciate the potential benefits of I-1029, one only has to have a loved one in long-term care. Our loved one was accosted and struck in her own room, and knocked down by another resident as the caretaker watched, apparently not knowing what to do.

Current law requires that long-term caregivers obtain only 34 hours of training. Workers can begin employment after an orientation; they have four months to get the remaining 34 hours. I-1029 would require long-term caregivers to obtain 75 hours of mandatory training and passage of a test.

Insufficiently trained persons staff the majority of long-term-care facilities in the state, with approximately 20,000 new long-term-care workers hired annually.

Long-term-care centers are now "holding bins" for persons who cannot speak English and who are ill prepared to meet the complex needs of persons with advanced Alzheimer's disease.

We urge "yes" on I-1029 on Nov. 4.
-- Shirley and Ray Murphy, Edmonds

Follow the money trail
We are the parents of a child with severe developmental and physical disabilities. We rely heavily on hired caregivers to help us care for our son. We've been lucky enough to have family members, friends and people from our community whom we trust and who have provided excellent care. These good people have already gone through adequate training and background checks by the state in order to provide this care.

If Initiative 1029 were to pass, the requirements to become and remain a caregiver for our son would be unnecessarily burdensome. We could ultimately lose these resources and not be able to find replacements that we would trust and have as much confidence in.

And the same is true for families all across our state. For some, these new requirements might actually apply to a disabled child's own parents or an elderly person's own children.

If I-1029 passes, the sponsors of the initiative are the ones who will benefit financially. It is being supported by Washington state's largest labor union, which will get tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to train their own members.

Don't be fooled by the ballot language that would make it appear that you would be voting for our best interests.
-- Evan Purcell and Ellen Norton, Tacoma

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October 17, 2008 1:57 PM

Hard times

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Such is life
Sure, we have some problems, but the snakes on Wall Street who are rich because of our stupidity are still rich.

Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan have issues that remain unresolved and we pretend to care.

The great people this country really needs won't get into politics because of all the sleaze.

Breaking news is breaking out everywhere, except it's not even close to being breaking news.

Our kids have lost faith in the system, many TV preachers' integrity ratings are now below used-car salesman and lawyers and reality shows have taken over our lives.

But most of us still have a bed to sleep in, water to drink and all the fast food we can inhale. Gas prices are coming down, our kids mostly go to good schools and, for many, the biggest daily decision remains the choice of whether to watch Oprah or Dr. Phil.

While the world crumbles all around us, with people and institutions and ideas and governments falling like flies, a new TV season is here complete with all our favorites. At the end of these new shows we hear words that make life worth living, make it edgy, make it exciting and give us incredible hope.

And what are those words?

"Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode."

Powerful, succinct, good-mood-inducing words that make us feel like the world is on the right track and everything is going to be OK.

Now if I could just find the clicker …
-- Bob Snyder, Lynnwood

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October 16, 2008 4:14 PM

Presidential politics: the great debate

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Redneck elitism
Editor, The Times:
You've heard of "limousine liberals" and "country-club conservatives?" Now meet America's new elite: rednecks.

Redneck elitism tells you you're better than Sen. Barack Obama because he's from the city and you're from a rural town; he went to Harvard Law and you didn't go to college; he speaks in grammatical sentences and you prefer one-liners; he thinks rationally, you're driven by your gut.

AP Photo/Pool, Charles Dharapak

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wave to the audience after a presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Wednesday.

If you live in mountain or prairie states, you're better than people on the coasts. As a varsity athlete in public school, you know more than a Ph.D. Because you never ventured out of state or visited another country, you're more patriotic that someone who can name five nations contiguous to Iraq, or define the difference between Sunni and Shi'ah. If your evangelical Protestant, you're saved: other religions be damned. You voted for President George W. Bush because he's a guy you could have a beer with. You'll vote for Gov. Sarah Palin because she kills bigger animals than you've ever hunted. You couldn't care less how much she knows about foreign policy.

Redneck elitism is quaint, nationalistic and dangerous. Hitler's Brown Shirts burned books, beat up Jews and spawned fascism because they were redneck elites. Gov. Sarah Palin links Obama to terrorists. People scream, "Traitor! Kill him!" And she winks.

I guess I'm no elite.

I'll vote for someone smarter, better-educated and more cosmopolitan than I'll ever be: I'm electing the chief executive for a nation in crisis, not a drinking buddy.
--Alfred LaMotte, Steilacoom

Shameful manipulation
As an actively engaged voter, from a home with a variety of political perspectives and voting histories, I watched the presidential debates last night, eager to hear the candidates clarify their positions on key issues ["Accusations fly in final debate," Times, page one, Oct. 16].

Like many other voters in this election, I am repulsed by the finger pointing and hateful rhetoric, which has taken the focus away from the very real issues that matter most to voters.

After the debates, I checked the Web sites of several major news outlets to obtain perspective on the candidates' performances. In so doing, I also looked at the electoral maps, which most major news outlets provide as a view into projected voter trends.

I was amazed to see that Fox News, which purports to provide "fair and balanced coverage," has no updated electoral map. Their map shows results from the past two elections, in 2004 and 2006, but not the current election.

This is not a result of a temporary Web-site malfunction; Fox's electoral map has been disabled since the last debate, when I also checked it.

If Fox News wants to be taken seriously by the general public as a source of unbiased reporting on current events, they will need to be much less obvious in their censorship of information.

Their blatant refusal to inform their viewers about the current state of projected voting trends is not fair, nor is it balanced.

Fox News' failure to provide fair and balanced coverage should be addressed on the front pages of other papers around the country.

The public has a right to know, and journalists have an obligation to cover, Fox's shameful manipulation of the "news" it covers.
-- Bonnie Zinn, Seattle

Was there anybody listening?
I'm an Independent.

But I think I watched a different debate than everyone else last night. Apparently, no one in the post-mortems heard Sen. John McCain say the following when asked about whether he would have a litmus test for a potential Supreme Court nominee: "I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test."

Sure sounds like a litmus test to me.

And this bit of truly revelatory exposure of the far right's true foreign-relations agenda when asked about Sen. Joseph Biden's qualifications: "He voted against the first Gulf War. He voted against it and, obviously, we had to take Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait or it would've threatened the Middle Eastern world supply."

Supply of what? Freedom?

No, it was oil. The stated reason for "Operation Desert Storm" was supposed to be to preserve the freedom of a sovereign country against an invading aggressor.

At least we know the real truth about why McCain wants us to stay in Iraq and why President George W. Bush invaded it.

Although I staunchly remain a member of neither party, I have no doubt who's not getting my vote.
-- Stephen Salamunovich, Redmond

Thanks a lot, Joe
Hey Joe, last night we heard a lot about you and your dilemma. Sounds like things are starting to look pretty good for you, though, and you are wondering which of these candidates can help you the most.

Yes, America has some problems right now. Much of the former middle class is struggling, health-care costs are out of control; education and educational opportunities are suffering; the financial markets are collapsing, and so is our infrastructure.

But I'm delighted to hear that things are looking up for you and your personal economy.

I'm glad to hear you are earnestly considering which of these candidates is best for you. But I'm saddened to hear you think it might be Sen. John McCain.

I want you and every other undecided voter out there to think about what JFK said:
"And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

This is a great country. It truly is the land of opportunity.

Despite its serious problems, our nation is a great one and we are lucky to live in it. I feel lucky to have been born here, to have the opportunity to live here, to make my living here. America has been very good to me.

I find it increasingly difficult to take seriously people who wrap themselves in our flag, call themselves patriotic, and then moan about paying too much in taxes. You can't have it both ways.

America embraces us. America gives us strong soil to nurture our crops and now some people who call themselves patriots want to go cheap on her -- just when she needs us most.

They're saying, "Hey America. Thanks for the opportunity, thanks for giving me everything I needed, and by the way, sorry to hear about your problems. Good luck with them."

America is in trouble and is in debt.

We are America and are in trouble. Instead of bitching about how much it is costing us as individuals, how about if we all pitch in and come to the aid of the great nation that has done so much for so many.

How about if we all do our part?

Hey Joe, I paid my taxes yesterday. The good news is that I can't believe a poor boy like me, who started with so little, has done so well. The bad news is that I know I will have to pay more next year. I can't wait.

Thank you, America
-- Walter Cougan, Seattle

How did he get this far?
Debate one: Sen. John McCain didn't make eye contact.

Debate two: McCain referred to Sen. Barack Obama as "that one."

Debate three: McCain kept grimacing, frowning and snorting.

Presidential behavior? I don't think so.
-- Don Franks, Burien

Stick with corruption and earmarks
The reason we have been unsuccessful in the war is because by invading Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, we have lent credence to the Arab view that we are out to conquer the Islamic world and steal their oil.

John McCain still believes it was the right thing to do and still wants to win it.

I don't think we can ever be certain that terrorism isn't a danger, but when we give Iraq back its country, there will be less danger.

We have to stop thinking "if you are not for us, you're against us." To do that requires a knowledge of history, understanding of other cultures, ability to see other points of view and tolerance of other religions.
These are strengths of Sen. Barack Obama.

Leave McCain in the Senate where he can fight corruption and earmarks, and work with Democrats as he has promised to do.
-- Robert Wright, Yakima

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October 16, 2008 4:11 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Make the smart choice
I have known Gov. Christine Gregoire for almost 20 years.

I knew her before she was our state's attorney general or governor.

Through the years I have seen the hardest worker I know.

Gregoire has said that her mom was the hardest worker she knew, but if her mother were still alive, I think she would take her hat off to her daughter.

The love she has and has always had for the state of Washington is truly remarkable. She has always been willing to go the extra mile to get things done. She is extremely honest, ethical and has high values. I feel lucky to have her as a friend. She is truly a caring person with her family and with the issues she holds most dear to her heart, such as education, children and the environment.

I feel Washington has been so fortunate to have her as our governor.

I hope our state is smart enough to elect her for four more years.
-- Sheila Riffe, Olympia

Who are you?
Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is so full of contradictions. He wants to cut the minimum wage $1.50, cut $500 million from education and supports deregulating our economy and health-care system.

Rossi is now trying to quash a subpoena in a lawsuit filed by Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna regarding campaign-finance violations with the Building Industry Association of Washington ["AG's office clarifies comments regarding BIAW-Rossi lawsuit," news, Oct. 11].

He is charged with "illegally coordinated fundraising," and wants to testify after the election.

Rossi now says he is a supporter of stem-cell research. In his first debate with Gov. Christine Gregoire four years ago, local Seattle and Everett newspapers displayed these quotes: When asked who would lead stem-cell research Rossi said, "California would lead" and that he "didn't want to compete with California, with Washington state dollars." Also, "It's not relevant whether I support it or not, it's already legal," topped by "I don't know enough about the issue to say whether it is ethical."

On Rossi's current transportation plan to solve Highway 520's bridge problems, he has proposed eight lanes for his "bridge to nowhere."
He says he can do it for $1 billion less than the six-lane proposal by Gov. Gregoire. That's a head-scratcher.

Of course, he doesn't say how those extra lanes will access Interstate 5 and surrounding communities, as well as how, and at what cost, the Eastside and Seattle will be affected.

The Joker in the deck is that at a recent local Chamber of Commerce meeting, The Mukilteo Beacon reported Rossi forces are still sobbing that in the last election there were "several hundred ballots that weren't counted," and forgot to mention that those approximately 600 ballots that weren't counted came from King County, where Gov. Gregoire had a 60-40 percent advantage.

Isn't it strange that Republican Rossi, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, with a Republican majority in the Senate, wasn't able to work in a nonpartisan way to get a fast-tract transportation system in place and, as writer of the 2003 budget, left Gov. Gregoire with a $2.2 billion deficit?
--Max W. Don, Mukilteo

Substance over style
Up until now, Washington's strong economy and Gov. Christine Gregoire's good management have kept our state from the huge budget shortfalls facing many other states. But as the current economic crisis spreads from Wall Street to the rest of the world, we are no longer immune.

Who should we trust to make the tough choices our state will have to make -- gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi or Gov. Christine Gregoire?

The only subject Rossi has been specific about is a transportation plan no one is taking seriously. He claims that he's not running for office on issues like abortion, but his socially conservative values will inevitably influence his decisions about which parts of the budget to fund and which to cut.

Gregoire has created a good business climate and expanded trade for our state, but has also improved children's health care, education and environmental policy (including a real plan for how to clean up Puget Sound).

When budgets need to be trimmed, I trust her more-balanced approach to Washington's needs.
Gregoire is a proven leader with solid accomplishments; Rossi has no real executive experience.

As times get tougher, we will need substance over style. I'll be voting for Gregoire.
-- Linda Norlen, Seattle

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October 16, 2008 4:09 PM

U.S. foreign aid

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Modernize and provide funding
We couldn't agree more with Lynne Varner's call to modernize U.S. foreign assistance ["America must adjust foreign aid to a new world order," editorial column, Oct. 8]. A robust U.S. international-affairs budget is essential to ensure we have the civilian capacity to address the global challenges facing America today.

Americans vastly overestimate what we spend on nonmilitary foreign expenditures.

But the U.S. international-affairs budget (representing only a bit more than 1 percent of our national budget) fuels America's engagement with the rest of the world. Our diplomatic, development and humanitarian-assistance programs are critical to protecting our national security, promoting economic prosperity at home and abroad, and projecting our best values globally.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees: "It has become clear that America's civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long … relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world."

It is time to modernize our international programs and commit the necessary resources.
When the new president and Congress take office in January, an essential first step will be to provide critical funding by passing a strong FY09 international-affairs budget.
-- Lew Macfarlane, Sam Kaplan, Seattle

Words before bullets
I read the Oct. 8 column by Lynne Varner about adjusting to a new world order.

Right on, Lynne.

Suppose we had the money now that we've already spent in Iraq.

Let's try words before bullets.

Diplomacy is a bargain and no one dies from practicing it.

I'm not against foreign aid -- 1.4 billion people live on $1.25 or less a day.

We have economic problems but we've got a long way to go before we're in such dire circumstances.

A new administration needs to live up to the [U.N.] Milennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, fight disease and to reform foreign aid to make sure that the U.S. contributes wisely to provide a more secure world for all our planet's citizens.
-- Rochelle Goldberg, Bothell

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October 16, 2008 4:06 PM

Krauthammer on Obama

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Sorry, Jesus
In his Oct. 12 syndicated column ["Obama's associations are indeed relevant," Opinion], Charles Krauthammer maintains that Sen. Barack Obama's association with the radical pastor Reverend Wright and 1960s radical William Ayers reflects the senator's lack of character.

The same argument was of course used in the 1950s during the McCarthy era. Acquaintances and even relatives of communists were considered to be sympathizers who were to be ostracized by society.

But this issue of guilt by association reminds me of an event that happened much further back in history: Once, there was a fellow who traveled with prostitutes, pickpockets and money-changers. He seemed to have the misguided notion that his association with these flawed people might actually help them, and also serve as a positive example to society.

But, according to Krauthhammer's logic, this particular fellow would, like Obama, lack character.

Sorry Jesus, maybe you're not a favorite of conservative Republicans after all.
-- Alex Zedicoff, Seattle

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October 15, 2008 4:28 PM

The race for the White House

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

AP Photo/U.S. Dept of Justice

This frame grab provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Osama bin Laden in a CNN interview in 1997.

What about bin Laden?
Noteworthy by its near absence from the presidential candidates' debates has been the full panoply of rhetoric that has surrounded President George W. Bush's "war on terror" since its inception.

Of course, foreign policy in general will always constitute, in some measure, an obligatory subject of discussion for high-level U.S. politicians. But aside from vague declarations about "resolve" and some scattershot statements covering the Middle East, U.S.-Russian tensions and nuclear proliferation, for the two presidential candidates it's obvious that economics trumps everything else.

Osama bin Laden continues to occupy his dank South Asian cave, and is still issuing threats, but the U.S. public is most concerned about the bottomless pit of Wall Street right now. As of mid-October, the real and alleged perils of Islamic extremism seem as remote from Americans' everyday concerns as demon rum and the Stamp Act.

It is a monumental change in the political paradigm.

No doubt President Bush can't believe how swiftly the public relations rug was pulled out from under him.

We shall soon see how his successor handles the mess that is "high finance."
-- Frank Goheen, Camas

Two sentences
Obama is Biden his time.
McCain is Palin comparison.
--Beverlie Duff, Kent

Don't vote for the sellouts
While justifiably condemning Sen. John McCain for his fear mongering, E.J. Dionne Jr. believes that Americans should place their trust in Sen. Barack Obama because he offers hope ["Hope is the antidote to economic fear," syndicated columnist, Oct. 10].

Unfortunately, the working-class American was not offered much hope when Obama decided to cast his vote for Wall Street instead of Main Street.

To add insult to injury, the senator also lobbied hard to get his fellow Democrats to follow his example.

Dionne mentions the high cost of health insurance Americans are faced with today but ignores the fact that under Obama's plan, American families would be forced to pay for their children's insurance, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.

A third-party candidate like Ralph Nader recognizes the efficacy of a single-payer health-care plan but Dionne, like so many pundits, apparently refuses to acknowledge that there are other candidates running for president besides a Democrat and a Republican, candidates who have not sold out to the corporate interests like Obama and McCain have.
-- Clifford J. Hutchins, Rochester

No ditsy-bob winkers, please
Do we really want as vice president, or potentially as president, Gov. Sarah Palin, a ditsy-bob winker with a hockey-mom, joe-six-pack mentality, who evidently did not get enough adulation during her pageant days and today uses sex appeal to get what she wants. Do we really want a president whose judgment is so flawed that he would foist on the American people a person like Palin as a potential successor?

Furthermore, do we really want a president whose temperament is one of impatience and bluster, who thinks the answer to all world problems is more troops and more bombs, for however long it takes?

Sen. John McCain has clearly demonstrated his lack of finesse with rash answers and actions that show little concern for what he said two weeks ago, much less an understanding of more distant history.

I have been mostly a Republican for 50 years and have, I'm sorry to say, voted for what have turned out to be some scoundrels and miscreants.

But this year, McCain is too much. He has sold his soul.

I cannot understand how sensible people can endorse this man for the highest office in the land.

Being a [prisoner of war] survivor does not entitle him to be elected. How can one serve with integrity if one has to lie and cajole his way into office?

This year I am voting for Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden, a pair of thoughtful, deliberative and mature politicians. Given the financial mess that they will inherit, they may not accomplish all they hope to, but I hope they will at least restore some credibility, dignity and international respect to the White House and America.
-- Rand Hillier, Poulsbo

Mourning in America
A friend of mine suggested to a mutual Republican acquaintance of ours to accept the inevitability of a Sen. Barack Obama presidency.

He said, "Relax. The sun will still rise on November 4th."

He then proposed that Republicans and Democrats should now be able to return to a more bipartisan, civil coexistence.

I have a different theory:

The strain between the parties is as bad as any time during my lifetime.

From the perspective of a Democrat, this is mainly due to the divisive tactics of [the late Republican National Chairman] Lee Atwater, [Republican political strategist] Karl Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush.

I have to presume that from the Republican perspective, there are others to blame, including [former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Rodham] Clinton, [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and others. However we got here, we are living in extremely divisive times.

And the worse things get for Republicans, the more President Bush proves to be an utter failure as president, the more angry Democrats have become. The angrier we get, the more vicious we are toward Bush and by extension Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin. Furthermore, the more embarrassed Republicans are, the angrier they become. They can only take this abuse for so long.

Now, it seems, many Republicans want Obama to fail as badly as Bush has. They are seething over all of the abuse the Democrats have meted-out over the past six years or so.

The Republicans in Congress seem bound to do all they can to put roadblocks in the way of any Democratic initiatives.

Why? Consider what Republicans have to look forward to.

Imagine an Obama presidency with all of the newly acquired power of the presidency. Consider the possibility of an Obama presidency continuing the trend toward Cheney's unitary executive doctrine.

Perhaps the most powerful example of increased presidential power within the unitary executive doctrine is the use of signing statements that allow the president to choose which laws to obey and ignore. Next, imagine the prospect of a filibuster-proof senate. Picture two or three liberal Supreme Court appointments.

Finally, look at the demographic changes that are rapidly resulting in a growing democratic voting populace.

The Republican sun will not rise for a long, long time.

For Republicans, it is now "mourning in America."
-- Noel Dieterich, Kirkland

Respect what you seek
Sen. John McCain and Gov Sarah Palin proclaim they are the true Americans, and urge us to believe Sen. Barack Obama is "not one of us" and that he consorts with terrorists. They declare themselves the true patriots.

When they incite crowds with this claim and when they use their campaign money to fan hatred, they undermine our fundamental values. They disrespect the offices they seek.

Our country's seal says: "E Pluribus Unum." It is Latin and means "Out of Many, One." It stands for a way of life that embraces all who live here, and calls us to come together to create a country that works for us all.

In this time of crisis, we have a very serious choice to make. I choose E Pluribus Unum. I ask you to do the same. And I ask you to respect the office of president and vice president of the U. S. and hold candidates to the highest standard when you vote this November.
--Anne Stadler, Lake Forest Park

Blue and blind
I just don't get it.

People like Danny Westneat still seem to make this look like a race between Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Barack Obama not Sen. John McCain and Obama ["The female vote," page one column, Oct. 15].
Sure Palin could potentially become president — so could Sen. Joe Biden.

However, I'm so baffled that the female population and people in general don't see she has equal or better experience than Obama in many areas.

Being the governor of Alaska is a top-level executive job. A senator is not a top-level executive position.

Executives and governors have total responsibility for direct control of budgets, hiring and firing of employees, mandating, leading and enforcing real changes for their state or company. As a senator, you can only introduce, influence and vote on your plans/suggestions.

Senators have no real, direct authority to do anything; they are representatives of a larger group.

The general population still doesn't understand that a governor outranks a senator by a considerable margin when it comes to real executive-level experience.

We appear to not only be a blue state, but also a blind state.
-- Jake Justice, Everett

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October 15, 2008 4:23 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Personality matters
As a first-time voter this year, I know I can speak for many when I say that personality in a candidate does matter ["Christine Gregoire: Smart, intense and struggling to woo voters," news, Oct. 10].

Compared with Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain seems very intense, just as Gov. Christine Gregoire seems when matched with gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's good sense of humor and laid-back personality.

I know that my vote for governor should be based off their stance in politics and how they plan to help make our state better economically, but if Gregoire wants to get re-elected, especially with young voters, she has to present herself in a more relaxed and comfortable way.

This story mentioned a few times how Gregoire shows her "formal" side when she is in public.

Young voters don't care about relaying the stats if the personality doesn't come with it.

If Gregoire were to act more like she does when she is around her family, she would be a much more likable candidate in this upcoming election.

She would get my vote.
--Jacquelyn Komen, Seattle

Like drawing blood from a rock
Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's latest attack ad features two women sharing their woes over increasing property taxes for citizens living on "fixed incomes." What they fail to capture on camera is the true background behind why this is the case.

Washington state is one of the few remaining in the nation without an income tax. Therefore, money to provide services needs to come from other sources such as sales tax, gas tax, motor-vehicle tax and property tax.

Unfortunately, these are all examples of "regressive taxes," meaning that the lower a person's income, the higher the percentage of income she/he pays in tax.

Income tax, on the other hand, is an example of "progressive tax," which means that the percentage of tax paid increases proportionately to one's income.

Mere mention of instituting an income tax in Washington, however, has become known as political suicide for anyone who dares utter the words.

This results in the phenomenon of the citizens with the lowest incomes providing the broadest base of revenues for the state budget. Anyone with even a few firing brain cells should be able to figure out the answer to that equation.

And each time Tim Eyman [initiative guru] sits down at his keyboard to create his latest example of shortsighted "vomit," the coffers of the state budget creep further into the red zone.

I hope the legislators and citizens of this state will wake up someday and recognize that this cannot continue.

Voting for Rossi, my friends, is not the answer to the problem. In fact, his "solutions" to the budget crisis will only make things worse -- not just for the working class, but for all of us who depend on the working class to bear such a large percentage of the tax burden.

Ever try getting blood from a rock?

Gov. Gregoire's "reckless spending," as Rossi-ites refer, has been for "superficial" things like health care and education for our youth -- investments that will lead to large payoffs in the future if we can be patient.

The best solution is to overhaul the tax structure in our state.
-- Rebecca Resnick, Seattle

Actions speak louder than lies
Much has been written and spoken about truth in advertising during this election cycle.

This makes it hard for voters to know exactly what we can believe and who we can trust. With that as our conflict, perhaps our choices should be based on what each candidate brings to the election in character and experience. If that is the criteria, the only choice is Gov. Christine Gregoire. Her years of public service as our state attorney general and our governor, move her to the top of the list of qualified candidates.

In this, the most important election in my life, I would not consider voting for anyone other than Gregoire.
-- Vincent Lachina, Seattle

Give us someone who cares
The race for governor comes down to this: caring or careless.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has proved she cares for all the residents of this state. No matter their color, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation or age, her vision is simple: serve, protect and instill hope for a better future.

Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi believes catering to business interests and letting capitalism reign free of "government regulation" is the end-all.

Wake up Rossi -- we can only call that careless.

Roll back the minimum wage? Deny equal rights to committed gay couples? Grant more tax breaks to your friends in the building industry? Careless, careless, careless.
-- Michael Wrenn, Seattle

Think of the children
During the past four years, under the leadership of Gov. Christine Gregoire, the state has made wise investments to ensure the well-being of vulnerable children. These include investments in foster care, early learning, reduced class size, health-care coverage and child-nutrition programs. One would never guess this from the distortions about her record that fill our airwaves.

Take foster care, for example. Thousands of children in Washington are placed in foster care each year. For most, this provides needed safety and stability. For a few, it does not.

Gregoire and the Legislature have dramatically increased funding (approximately $198 million) and oversight of foster care to address problems. She has been a leader in Washington and the nation.

When Gregoire took office, Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations were required within 72 hours of a report when a child was at risk of harm. Today, it's 24 hours, and this quick action means fewer children have subsequent referrals to CPS.

The response time for lower-risk cases has also improved. There is much to do, but Gregoire has the knowledge, commitment and focus to keep on track to improve the well-being of all of the children who come to the state's attention.

It is important to understand the facts to determine who will be the best governor for the most vulnerable children in Washington. The Children's Campaign Fund (a nonpartisan PAC dedicated to electing champions for children) has endorsed Gregoire for governor because of her demonstrated leadership, commitment and capacity to protect all children and her proven track record.
-- Marty Jacobs, Seattle

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October 15, 2008 4:21 PM

Rep. Maralyn Chase

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Editorial was a cheap shot
As a Republican voter, I believe The Times' description of state Rep. Maralyn Chase as a "caricature of a liberal Democrat" was a cheap shot ["Snohomish, North King legislative races: experience matters," editorial, Oct. 14].

The Times may object to Rep. Chase's willingness to rock the boat in Rep. Frank Chopp's clubby little world in Olympia, but I find her candor, support for small business and her willingness to work across partisan lines to be refreshing.

She deserves much better than your belittling tut-tutting.
-- Jim DiPeso, Shoreline

You missed the target
Your description of Maralyn Chase as "a caricature of a liberal Democrat" could hardly be further from the truth.

Furthermore, she lives in unincorporated Snohomish County in Esperance, adjoining Edmonds --not in Shoreline. She represents the 32nd Legislative District, of which Shoreline is a major part but only a part.
You have apparently been influenced in your judgment by Shoreline people who favor profit over people.

They seek to develop Shoreline into a Bellevue-like city, adding to their net worth while putting small businesses out of business.

In Olympia, Chase is a pioneer who does great work and tons of research with the legislative initiatives that she promotes, which are mostly for a healthier environment, accountability in government and social responsibility.

You must be listening to her corporate opponents who fight her continually as she works hard to protect and preserve a clean Puget Sound, safe foods and products and the pillars of democracy: trustworthy elections, education, constitutional law and a democratic form of representative government.

Chase is a champion who has led the effort to keep St. Edward State Park from being taken over by private ownership, thereby preserving the biodiversity of this public land.

She is undoubtedly one of the best-informed members of the Legislature. She does her own research and studies the bills, unlike many "electeds" who show up during the legislative session but do little work when not in Olympia.

As a constituent who also works on environmental issues and legislation, I am shocked at your lack of knowledge about this outstanding progressive Democrat.
-- Rebecca Wolfe, Edmonds

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October 15, 2008 4:18 PM

Seattle Parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Seattle voters can be surprising
The Times apparently forgot how to write an editorial in its Oct. 7 piece urging voters to reject Proposition 2, the parks levy ["Approve Pike Place Market upgrade; reject Seattle Parks levy," editorial, Oct. 7].
Instead of persuasion using compelling facts, your newspaper made assumptions, implying a vote was either/or, [Pike Place] Market or parks, the levy might become permanent and voters won't vote for the levy because of ballot fatigue, overtaxation and the economy.
None of this can be proven or tested.
The Times is presuming to speak for us voters, not providing reasons why we should or should not vote.
Voters need to know that a 16-member oversight committee will carefully review all levy spending. They should know that their tax assessment for parks will decrease, that the levy will complete a critical part of our popular Burke-Gilman Trail and that projects benefit all neighborhoods.
Seattle voters can be surprising; we deeply value tradition and quality of life. Abundant parks are one of our city's unique assets, along with the Market.
When times get tough, people make priorities. Don't arrogantly assume you know what they will be.
--Judy Moise, Seattle

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October 14, 2008 5:02 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity / assisted suicide

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Take it from someone who knows
I am an Oregon doctor who is quoted in The Times article about assisted suicide ["How we die: the Oregon experience," page one, Oct. 13].

As I was characterized as "fiercely" opposed, I feel obligated to share at least one reason (of many more than space permits) for my stance.

In Oregon, the "safeguards" are like a sieve. Although patients are supposed to have mental-health evaluations when indicated, there were no mental-health referrals at all last year — none!

AP Photo/Courtesy Yes on I-1000

In this still frame from a TV advertisement produced by supporters of Washington state's assisted suicide ballot initiative, Nancy Niedzielski, who lost her husband Randy to brain cancer, is shown. The emotionally charged battle over end-of-life decisions has taken to the airwaves as Washington state voters decide whether to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients.

At the same time, a recently published [Oregon Health & Science University] study confirmed that more than 48 percent of study patients seeking assisted suicide last year had either major depression or anxiety. At least three of 18 who actually took their overdoses had major depression, a condition that commonly leads to suicidal thoughts.

It saddens me that these individuals were given overdoses rather than care and treatment for their depression. Whether depressed or not, just hearing the "option" of assisted suicide from their doctors can further a patient's sense of isolation.

Doctors who give this option are encouraging patients to not value themselves and give up hope. This is corruption of our traditional medical ethic that protects patients.

Vote "no" on I-1000.
-- William Toffler, Portland

Change the mood; don't end a life
Great story about Initiative 1000 Monday. You covered many of the contentious points.

You pointed out quite accurately that referral for mental-health evaluation or counseling hardly ever occurs in Oregon, even though studies show that many patients requesting euthanasia are in fact depressed.

Many of them are not tired of living, but tired of living as they are.

With better comfort and treatment for depression, many of them would not be asking for help with suicide.

You stated that in Oregon and under Initiative 1000 "patients who might be suffering from mental illness are supposed to have a psychiatric evaluation." This actually is not true. The initiative says that the physician shall refer the patient for counseling only if he or she believes that the patient "may be suffering from a psychiatric or psychologic disorder or depression causing impaired judgment." The last three words are the crucial ones. If a patient is depressed but capable of making decisions for themselves, as most depressed patients are, then there will be no need to refer.

Patients seeking help with suicide under Initiative 1000 are highly unlikely to first receive treatment for their depression. I suppose that initially, there will be some referrals, but as time goes by, these will cease (as they have in Oregon).

Throughout history, the desire to commit suicide has always been considered de facto impaired judgment, and society has always intervened to prevent suicide whenever possible.

This will now be changed.

As long as a physician thinks the patient can make decisions for himself or herself, Initiative 1000 for the first time makes the decision to commit suicide a rational one, even if the patient is depressed. The initiative further empowers physicians to assist in their depressed patients' suicides.

This doesn't sound like much of a safeguard to me.
-- Doug Trotter, Snohomish

Pays to die, not live
Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) patients have received health insurance letters informing them that cancer chemotherapy is not covered, but assisted suicide is covered. Advocates of assisted suicide stress choice, but what happens when assisted suicide is your only choice?

Barbara Wagner of Springfield, Ore., received such a letter this summer. The Oregon Health Plan will not pay the cost of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy for patients with a less than 5 percent expected 5-year-survival -- even when that treatment is intended to prolong life or alter disease progression. However, such patients are eligible to receive comfort care, which in Oregon includes assisted suicide.

The message from Oregon, so aptly stated by Barbara Wagner, is, "We'll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live." You have the choice.

The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law studied assisted suicide and concluded: "No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of our society, including health care."

Assisted suicide saves HMOs money.

I-1000 endangers your health. Vote "no."
-- Kenneth Stevens, Sherwood, OR

Do the right thing
I am an Oregon doctor and I would like your readers to know the true cost of I-1000, the assisted-suicide law.

My own patient developed cancer and became depressed, but instead of addressing the issues underlying suicidality, a colleague simply gave him a lethal dose of a medication to end his life.

Washingtonians need to learn the real lesson from Oregon's doctor-assisted-suicide law. Despite all of the so-called "safeguards," there have been numerous instances of inappropriate selection, coercion, botched attempts and active euthanasia that have been documented in the public record.

This, however, is not the worst of it.

The real tragedy in Oregon is that instead of doing the right thing, which is to provide excellent medical care, patient's lives are being cut short by physicians who are ignoring the things that lead to suicidality at the end of life.

This change in our profession -- away from "cure when possible, comfort always, but never harm" -- has me concerned.

This should concern Washington residents as well.

Don't follow Oregon's lead. Vote "no" on I-1000.
-- Charles J. Bentz, Portland

Where are these doctors?
I always thought Martin Sheen was a progressive individual.

For someone who lives in the Malibu Colony, he must be strapped for cash and will say what the going rate will pay.

What kind of doctors is he referring to that will not recognize depression?

Our government may be unskilled. There are no board requirements to be a president or a legislator, but are our doctors just a bunch of schlocks?
-- Leo Shillong, Bellingham

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October 14, 2008 4:58 PM

Math mess

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Where's the thinking?
Ted Nutting ["A formula for lifting Washington out of its math mess," Times, guest commentary, Oct. 12] is part of the group "Where's the Math?" The organization is well-intentioned, partially informed and very political. They believe the half century of work in math education that started when Sputnik went up was entirely misguided. They have convinced our Legislature to implement a 19th-century mathematics curriculum in our schools.

The old ways of teaching math were not perfectly effective.

Consider the nonsensical: "There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in a flock. How old is the shepherd?" Then go to to learn that:

"Researchers report that three out of four schoolchildren will produce a numerical answer to this problem. A transcript of a child solving this problem aloud reveals the kind of misinformed conception of mathematics that many children hold: 125+5=130 … this is too big, and 125-5=120 is still too big … while 125/5=25. That works! I think the shepherd is 25 years old. In this child's world, mathematics is seen as a set of rules -- a collection of procedures, actually -- that must first be memorized and then correctly applied to produce the answer."

This view only slightly overstates what "Where's the Math?" advocates. The WASL [Washington Assessment of Student Learning] combats it by having part of the problems involve picking out the right numbers to use -- just like in the real world.

We should ask "Where's the Math?" -- "Where's the thinking? "
-- Bill Marsh, Port Angeles

Let's get back to basics
Thank you for printing Ted Nutting's story about teaching math.

I retired from teaching elementary school 10 years ago. I returned to substitute two years ago because of financial necessity. It is hard to believe what has fallen by the wayside in order to teach to the WASL test. No longer are social studies, English grammar, spelling, penmanship or art taught in schools.

Instead, there are two hours a day spent "teaching reading" to kids who are reading Dr. Seuss books in third and fourth grades. Ninety minutes a day are spent teaching math to the tune of "Show your answer using words, pictures or numbers."

Sixth-graders are having trouble solving story-problem-style subtraction problems using work sheets similar to those we used to use in teaching second grade.

Perhaps I am too old-fashioned, but we used to be able to teach all of the above subjects and still have time for fun activities once in a while.

I guess we must have been fairly effective, as the old methods managed to educate the shakers and movers of the engineering, medical and rocket-science worlds.
-- Mac McMullen, Seattle

What can we do?
Ted Nutting's commentary on reform math in Sunday's paper struck a chord with our family.

We have found the same issues he discusses in Ballard relevant in Bothell/Northshore as well. So much so that we pulled our children out of school and are home-schooling them.

It has been heartbreaking to realize that our kids, at sixth, fifth and second grades are so demoralized about math that they already believe that they are not good at it.

This is despite the fact that they all test above grade-level. We are now using Saxon math at home and are slowly reclaiming their confidence. When shown standard algorithms for simple arithmetic, they become frustrated at having not been taught that in school. Instead, they explored multiple ways to do simple problems, with no clear method taught for solving basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

When I discussed this with the school's principal, she repeatedly assured me that reform math would be successful for them and that we just needed to trust they would "get it" at some point. We waited several years and watched our kids struggle until we felt we couldn't wait any longer.

I agree with Nutting that education leaders should focus on what works.

The question is, what happens to those kids who are at the age that they cannot wait a few more years to "get math"?
-- Linda Gorordo, Bothell

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October 14, 2008 4:53 PM

Charles Krauthammer column

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Whose media?
I have written a couple of times to The Times to ask why you keep printing columns by Charles Krauthammer, pointing out his serious lack of judgment and lack of credibility.

This man called for invading most of the Middle East after 9/11, despite no evidence of involvement by the countries he named.

His recent Sunday column ["Obama's associations are indeed relevant," Oct. 12] reeks of hypocrisy as he calls for scrutiny on any questionable character that Sen. Barack Obama has ever encountered, while ignoring the numerous questionable characters with whom Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been involved.

He said that the national media is the "Obama media," completely ignoring the fact that the media spent weeks discussing remarks, taken out of context, by Reverend Wright, while ignoring Palin's witch-hunting reverend and friendly association with an anti-American secessionist group (to which her husband was a longtime member).

If the media were Obama's, they would point out the hundreds of flip-flops by McCain on major issues and his past associations with questionable groups.

They would point out the hypocrisy of Palin accusing a bipartisan, Republican-dominated committee of being on a witch hunt against her.

The media prints what sells and is owned and controlled by conservatives, not liberals.
-- Roger Burton, Bothell

What side of the fence are you on?
Columnist Charles Krauthammer believes, as do many, that past associations are both relevant and important in judging presidential candidates, referring to recent attacks on Sen. Barack Obama.

Perhaps that is so, but those same worries didn't seem to be nearly as important to conservatives in years 2000 and 2004. As I recall, many of President George W. Bush's backslapping buddies were being censured by their peers, were under investigation, facing criminal charges or headed for the slammer.

Or maybe Bush's being born again and seeing the light made a difference.

Or maybe it is because his name is George W. Bush and not Barack Hussein Obama.

In any event, one's perception of good character seems to depend on which side of the political fence you happen to be standing on.

Hopefully, in these remaining days before elections, the political rhetoric will get back to matters that are meaningful to Republican, Democrat and Independent alike.

God knows, there is plenty to worry about.
-- Don Curtis, Clinton

Don't forget about McCain
I find it so interesting how Charles Krauthammer waxes on about Sen. Obama's associations while completely ignoring the shady associations of Sen. John McCain.

He has completely ignored the unsavory characters that McCain has routinely assisted through endorsements and legislation.

First, there is G. Gordon Liddy, notorious for his role in the Watergate scandal. Liddy served four and a half years in prison for his misdeeds, acknowledged plotting to kill journalist Jack Anderson and, in order to thwart an investigation, Howard Hunt. Without belaboring his numerous unsavory acts, Liddy has donated to the McCain campaign and McCain has been a guest on Liddy's radio show praising his "old friend." McCain even backed Liddy's son's congressional bid in 2000. An unsavory association, wouldn't you agree?

But, let's not stop there.

Second, real-estate developer Donald Diamond, co-chair of McCain's campaign-finance committee and a "close personal friend." McCain has sponsored two bills sought by Diamond that helped the developer gain what The New York Times described as "millions of dollars and thousands of acres of land." There's more, but let's not belabor this association; let's move on the next unsavory character.

Third, Charles Keating of the Keating Five. McCain pressured regulators on behalf of Keating. McCain's intervention allowed Keating to destroy the lives of thousands. After a token prison sentence, Keating was released and allowed to live his life in comfort, enjoying the rewards of all the assets that he transferred to family members so that he had nothing to give in the form or restitution. Apparently, that is the American way -- correction, it is the Republican way.

So, lay all the cards on the table.

McCain is unfit to lead based on his associations, his intellect (limited) and decision-making capabilities (Gov. Sara Palin).

In addition, the McCain campaign has been fanning the flames of hatred and racism in a desperate attempt to claim what he sees as his "rightful place." The last I checked, this was the U.S., and it is shameful to try to divide America.

Time to heed his own words: "Country First."
-- Cynthia Samuel, Clyde Hill

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October 13, 2008 4:57 PM

Politics and race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A man looks at a shop window plastered with posters of Barack Obama Monday in New York City.

Dems do it, too
Editor, The Times:
I found Danny Westneat's story on Sen. Barack Obama and race in the state of Washington very interesting ["Will Obama's race matter?," Times, page one, Oct. 12].

I would encourage The Times, though, to further explore what I feel is an equally troubling attitude among those on the left toward the Republican ticket.

Whereas many aren't totally surprised to hear of isolated racism in rural parts of our state, I think many put their heads in the sand and ignore the ugly hatred that exists right here in our cities, by educated people who say equally horrible things about Gov. Sarah Palin or Sen. John McCain.

Over the past month I have watched college-educated, successful professionals here in Seattle laugh at Sandra Bernhard's very offensive comments regarding Palin being gang-raped, and ["Saturday Night Live's"] sketch regarding Palin's husband being the father of their daughter's child.

In addition, I was appalled at friends who laughed and said, "that's what they get" upon seeing a home with a McCain sign egged.

If these things were said about Sen. Obama in Seattle, they would not be tolerated. Likewise, they should not be tolerated when said about Gov. Palin or Sen. McCain.

In no way do I condone or excuse the racist remarks made by the people in the story about Sen. Obama, but I am just as concerned about the hatred, disguised as playful fun, levied at the Republican ticket by "refined" people who should honestly know better.

If we are to truly heal as a nation, we need hate speech of all types and from all sides exposed, discussed and dealt with.
-- Hovie Hawk, Seattle

Don't listen to Dale
As a Vietnam veteran, I believe it is necessary for me to comment on my brother veteran Dale's racist diatribe ["Will Obama's race matter?"] concerning candidate Sen. Barack Obama lest anyone assume that either his opinion or attitudes speak for anyone but himself.

I spent a 14-month tour as part of a MACV [Military Assistance Command, Vietnam] advisory team in the Central Highlands of Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. Our unit was composed of Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans across all ranks and functions. We operated and fought as one because there were no other options.

I remember all my comrades-in-arms as good soldiers and Americans, regardless of their ethnic or cultural origins.

I am still proud to have had the privilege to have served with them.

Perhaps Dale had too much free time on this hands.
-- Mike Magnan, Seattle

Listen to this vet
Dale in South Bend said he couldn't believe a veteran would show a "Veterans for Obama" bumper sticker.
Dale, I have a "Veterans for Obama" bumper sticker.

I'm a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (yes, Sen. John McCain's alma mater), a Vietnam veteran with two Bronze Stars, a retired Navy captain with a combined total of 46 years in and with the U.S. military. (My final professional assignment was a Middle East deployment aboard USS WASP as a civilian in 2004.)

President George W. Bush and the Republican Party have misled, mismanaged and taken our country to the brink of ruin.

McCain has been an active participant in this demolition.

The Republicans need to be fired by us and a whole new team should be given an opportunity to undo the damage and maybe, just maybe, get us back on track.

Dale does not speak for all veterans.
-- Mike Cornforth, Port Townsend

Live in peace
Regarding Danny Westneat's story, "Will Obama's Race Matter?," I felt like a pinball bouncing from bumper to bumper, struggling for an understanding of Dale's comments.

I understand that many people won't vote for Sen. Obama because of his race.
Hitler rose to power because he used minorities as scapegoats. For some people today, black skin on a candidate is a way to transfer all your failures to someone else.

And while George W. Bush might have been technically in the Texas Air National Guard, to many of us with Vietnam service, he was a draft-dodger.

But, finally, I really do have some constructive advice for Dale: At his age, I would beg him to let it go. If you want to live out your life in relatively good health, your hate and rage will kill you through heart attack or stroke. Seek out some good anger management.

To me, you are truly what is bad in this country. But because you are a fellow human being put on this Earth to do the best you can, I hope and pray that your rage, frustration, failures and anger can be diminished, and that you can live in peace for the remainder of your time on Earth.
-- Alan Zelt, Kenmore

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October 13, 2008 4:53 PM

Presidential election

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Turbulent times call for steady leadership
We may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first.

I support Barack Obama because turbulent times require steady leadership and national unity.

In order to resolve our economic crisis, balance the federal budget, end the war in Iraq responsibly and keep America safe, we need to change the way Washington, D.C, works. Sen. Obama is promising real change -- not more of the same failed policies of George W. Bush.

Obama supports responsible tax cuts for middle-class Americans and working families. Sen. John McCain is calling for expanded tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthiest Americans -- adding trillions to a record deficit.

Obama understands that a go-it-alone foreign policy makes us less safe. He will work with our allies and use strong and direct diplomacy to take out al-Qaida, contain Iran and end the war in Iraq responsibly.

Obama won't let special interests and their Washington, D.C., lobbyists drown out the voices of regular Americans. He has shown that by building a broad movement of bipartisan support — and that is how he will govern.
-- Michael Mauk, Redmond

Let's fix this country
In the past, the U.S. has been a great country. But greatness is dependent upon the foundation of a large and healthy middle class.

As the Bush administration has eroded the middle class in favor of the wealthy, we have lost our strength within our own borders and in the world. Now we have one last hope to restore this strength, to start the arduous journey toward peace and prosperity. That hope lies with the Democratic party, in the White House, in Congress and in state governments.

The alternative frightens me.

Today's Republicans care only about the wealthy, about power and about winning at all costs.

Much has been made of Sen. Barack Obama's age. Yet, at 47 he is five years older than Theodore Roosevelt when he first took office, two years older than John F. Kennedy when he became president, and only four years younger than Abraham Lincoln when he was elected.

Sen. Obama may not have as many years of experience as Sen. John McCain but he is light years ahead of him in terms of thoughtfulness and wisdom.

In October of 2000, a few weeks before that infamous election, I said to a friend, "If Bush wins the election he will usher in the next Great Depression and a third world war."

Now, in 2008, a few weeks before this election, it is obvious to me that if McCain wins, we will lose all hope of ever regaining our greatness and stature in the world.
-- Patricia McCairen, Point Roberts

Don't fall for it
The headline "McCain defends Obama" [Times, News, Oct. 11] seems to illustrate the new Carl Rove Republican strategy.

Send Gov. Sarah Palin around the country whipping up the faithful with statements that Obama cavorts with terrorists. Then McCain gets to play the hero when he defends Obama from being called an Arab terrorist by another member of the Republican faithful.

Will the American public fall for the bait and switch? Time will tell.
-- Joan Rupp, Seattle

Dream small
Obama is for the "American dream" -- up to $250,000. Then, you're done for.
-- Barbara Atwood, Covington

True lies
In 1952, Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson said, "I've been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends, that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."

I guess the names of politicians may change, but the tactics of political parties? Not so much.
-- Don Franks, Burien

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October 13, 2008 4:50 PM

Math mess

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We can do better
I found the Ted Nutting "Math Mess" piece fascinating ["A formula for lifting Washington out of its math mess," Times, guest commentary, Oct. 12]. I hope members of the Board of Education will give feedback.
How can it be so difficult to find a good math curriculum? I graduated from Cleveland High School in 1962 then went on to receive a bachelor of science and master of science in engineering.

I conclude that good math teachers and straightforward curricula at Cleveland resulted in good math skills at that time, and would give good results today.

Yes, I understand 50 years later we would need additions because of personal computers, like some binary arithmetic.

I hope Nutting's arguments will be taken seriously.
-- Allen Gary Storaasli, Federal Way

Remove the heavy hands
Thanks to Ted Nutting for his comments on Washington state's math mess.

I didn't realize that the push for the less rigorous, often just plain silly math curricula was coming from Superintendent of Instruction Terry Bergeson at the state level; I am familiar with the issue from the Seattle Public Schools' perspective.

Reform math in the form of "everyday math" has become our elementary-school math curriculum despite the very vocal and widespread opposition of parents and teachers. Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno allowed for a parent/teacher feedback period after proposing the curriculum, then proceeded to ignore the feedback, arriving at what was clearly her predetermined choice.

This heavy-handed approach is having a real impact on our kids.

There is no question that the curriculum is weak; anyone with common sense who takes the time to compare it to something like Singapore math grasps immediately how weak our approach is.

We love our elementary school, the teachers who do such a great job, and we love being part of the public-school system.

However, this math curriculum and the district's lack of responsiveness to teachers and parents on the issue is forcing us to seriously consider other options for our kids' education.
-- Robin Kelson, Seattle

Time for a change
Bravo to teacher Ted Nutting for exposing the sorry state of math in Washington state. Our two sons struggled with reform math in Seattle public high schools and required extensive outside tutoring. Yet, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson stubbornly clings to reform math, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on expensive WASL tests, summer classes and teacher-prep courses. She will never adopt an effective math curriculum, such as Singapore or Saxon, to give students the tools they need to succeed in math.

I hope the voters in Washington state add up the costs of reform math over the past decade and subtract Bergeson from her office in November.

Our students deserve better leadership in math education.
-- Georgi Krom, Seattle

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October 13, 2008 4:48 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Protect your bodies
I appreciated The Times informative line-by-line comparison of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi vs. Gov. Christine Gregoire on the issues "The governor's race: a primer," news, Oct. 12], especially Dino Rossi's position on abortion: "He's not running on the issue and doubts that a bill restricting abortion would ever come before him if he's elected. But he's indicated he would sign such a bill."

Is not the second sentence a non sequitur to the first sentence of this stance?

Ladies, it is your body and Rossi will use his pen to control it, given the chance.
-- Carter Kinnier, Seattle

Not a breed we want
So gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi claims to be a new breed of conservative politician.
After carefully reading "The governor's race: a primer" (Oct. 12), I'd have to say he's more of a wolf in sheep's clothing. $15 billion for wider highways? Great idea, so long as you don't mind stealing $10 billion from education and health care to pay for it.

Trouble with the economy? Get rid of those pesky "unnecessary regulations" and just like Wall Street, our state will be doing fine!

And by the way, did you know that "costly regulations" are one of the primary reasons our health-care costs are through the roof? Better deregulate those insurance companies while we're at it!

The giant mess our country is in today is the result of eight years of exactly this sort of thinking.

The voters of Washington need to ask themselves, "can we afford to turn our state over to a man whose policies are more of the same deregulating, free-market, run-amok foolishness?'
I don't think so.

If nothing else, my pocket book says "No way."
-- Ann Tucker-Gwinn, Seattle

Prioritize expenditures, don't increase taxes
My husband and I are retired with limited monthly income. We are watching the stock market plummet along with Wall Street and mortgage bailouts. Our investments, which we need to supplement our income, have gone down the toilet.

We can't afford more taxes.

Now that the election is near, Gov. Christine Gregoire is worried and responds by saying she is cutting expenses and won't raise taxes. But past actions show us that she will do just the opposite. Don't forget the state gas taxes, along with $500 million dollars of other taxes and fees.

Moreover, in the past she has voiced support for a state income tax.

But again, the election is near, so she is trying to convince us otherwise.

We support gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi because he is experienced in balancing the budget by prioritizing expenditures and not increasing taxes and fees.

Likewise, in the presidential race, we support Sen. John McCain. He will be tireless in stopping wild government and pork-barrel spending.

McCain and Rossi give struggling families and senior citizens hope that there will be money left in our wallets.
-- Lyn Allen, Spokane

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October 12, 2008 6:41 PM

Green energy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Change starts with us
Editor, The Times:
I know every person in this country is concerned with the current state of the economy. I think it's important to also remember the status of the climate and what it implies for all of us. We can combine these two problems to create a better economy, green jobs and a cleaner environment ["Study forecasts 4 million 'green' jobs," Times, Business & Technology, Oct. 2].

PRNewsFoto/MasTec, Inc.

The Wanzek 80-megawatt wind-farm project in Dayton, Wash.

A clean-energy economy will create millions of new green jobs that cannot be outsourced. This is what America desperately needs.

Oil and coal companies have spent millions lobbying and advertising to stop the change to clean energy. I find this disgusting as an American who desperately wants to stop the climate crisis for my children.

It is time we stand up to oil companies and bring attention to the positive alternatives and the ability for us to revitalize our economy with great jobs, clean renewable energy and a healthy climate for our children.
-- Erin Seitz-Wilson, Maple Valley

We're smarter than this
I cannot fathom how we as a nation can be so stupid. We still have not come up with new technologies to free the U.S. from foreign dependency of energy and haven't solved the climate crisis.

It really is a no-brainer.

There could be so many jobs created here with the $600,000 per hour we send out of the country.

Our leaders have to be smarter and demand that this happens.
--Linda Heinz, Snohomish

Waste wood? Duh
An appropriate response to Wednesday's announcement that the city will produce energy from waste wood should elicit both a cheer and a "duh" ["Waste wood to heat downtown Seattle buildings," news, Oct. 8].

It's not a new or an exotic technology, just the employment of a tiny paradigm tweak in the direction of appropriate technology -- a redefinition of what constitutes "waste."

Who knows? Maybe someday we'll get serious and realize that sunlight is power and that rain, like river water, can be used and reused on its way through our homes and cities. Furthermore, rain and sun can be shared with society or simply employed right where they fall with no transmission losses.

Of course, the most elegant and efficient energy-production equivalent is conservation, an art barely addressed in our country.
-- Jeff Collum, Seattle

We don't want more-of-the-same
Clean coal? Drill, baby, drill?

What happened to wind and solar?

I'm a little concerned when listening to the presidential candidates talk about alternative energy.

Wind and solar, two of our cleanest and most viable alternative energy solutions, seem to be getting pushed further down the list in favor of nuclear, clean coal and offshore drilling. This is our clean-energy plan of the future?

While all options need to be explored, the priority needs to be put on clean-energy solutions, not solutions backed by big business and powerful lobbies. We need leaders in business and government who are willing to stand up for what we truly need, and no matter who gets into the White House, millions of Americans will be watching closely to see which green-energy solutions will be rolled out first.

Will it be truly clean energies, or will it be polished-up versions of more-of-the-same?
--Norman Bell, Seattle

What happens when the well runs dry?
Our nation must pay more attention to the environmental damage we are causing.

Global warming is a real issue that is frequently pushed aside. We know where we are going and how we are getting there but we stand by and do nothing.

Why must we keep drilling for more oil? The well will run dry and we will wish we had not destroyed our ozone.

We should be investing in cleaner and more efficient power. Solar power provides an immeasurable energy source and is environmentally friendly. Our cars could run on this energy if only we invested some time and money into it rather than into drilling for more oil.
--Eric Bergen, Bellevue

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October 12, 2008 6:38 PM

Bellevue parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

City losing revenue
So, what The Times editorial board is saying ["Bellevue Parks, yes!," editorial, Oct. 10] is to support our parks levies, when parks like 60 Acres South, purchased in 1968 with voter-approved bonds, are being turned over to a private, for-profit group for 30 years with zero income revenue to the city?

This is The Times' idea of why we should support the parks levy? You will not have my vote!
-- Doug Brusig, Seattle

Maintain Bellevue parks
For more than 50 years, Bellevue has been committed to enhancing and maintaining our city park system. Our beautiful neighborhood and downtown parks create an identity that Bellevue residents are proud of, and it enhances our lives.

As a realtor, I know the value parks and recreation areas bring to cities and neighborhoods. Having the funds available to buy choice property to make available for parks, rather than seeing more development, is what makes Bellevue special.

This levy will complete and enhance existing parks and playing fields, as well as make the development of new parks and natural areas possible.

The Bellevue parks levy continues the work begun in 1988 by the expiring parks levy. This levy is an extension of the other at a much lower cost to taxpayers. The 1988 levy cost an average of 17 cents per $1,000 assessed value, while the 2008 levy will cost an average of 12 cents.

I urge you to vote in favor of this levy to continue the tradition that has made Bellevue known as a "city in a park."
-- June Griffiths, Bellevue

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October 12, 2008 6:37 PM

Initiative 1029: caregiver training

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Give caregivers more training
Caregivers help seniors and people with disabilities lead healthy, productive, independent lives ["Reject Initiative 1029," editorial, Oct. 8]. Doing this every day is demanding physically, emotionally and mentally.

I know. I have been successfully doing live-in caregiving for 33 years. Currently, Washington state requires only 34 hours of training to become a caregiver. In contrast, it takes 300 hours of training to become a dog masseur.

Someone who has responsibility for a human life needs -- and deserves -- more time to learn the skills of this work! The more training and support one has, the better caregiver one will become! I-1029 makes this training time a reality and provides the support caregivers need to do excellent work by providing quality care for their clients.

I-1029 also closes a loophole in criminal-background checks that allow people who commit felonies, such as rape, to become caregivers. Vote to pass I-1029, and help people with disabilities live healthy, independent lives and be able to stay in their homes!
-- Lee Fitchett, Seattle

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October 12, 2008 6:34 PM

King County Charter: election director

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Don't elect election boss
The Leagues of Women Voters of Seattle and King County South urge you to vote against King County Charter Amendment 1 ["King County Charter amendments: substance and popcorn," editorial, Oct. 9].
This amendment adds an elected elections director to King County government for the purpose of running our elections department.
Currently, our elections director is appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council. The director is accountable to the elected county executive and can be immediately replaced for poor job performance. The council regularly reviews the elections department performance through oversight and review of the budget.
The King County elections director needs to be a qualified professional administrator with a full understanding of the technical challenges facing the 21st century.
We can see the potential danger of conflict of interest if the person managing our elections is forced to spend time with fundraising and campaigning.
We support keeping an appointed elections director.
-- Denise Smith, Seattle

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October 11, 2008 6:56 PM

Race for the White House

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

We want a strong leader
Editor, The Times:

I applaud David Broder's syndicated column, "A campaign without candor" [Opinion, Oct. 9].
Neither presidential candidate is truly willing to come clean in terms of laying out the difficult choices and compromises that are going to have to be made in this country.

Both are promising the continuation of the "American dream" (which has become little more than a myth for many) without admitting that their promise may be very difficult to deliver.

Neither candidate is willing to lay their cards on the table with the electorate and talk about hard choices. It would be too politically risky. But to do so would be an act of great courage and would display, might I say, leadership.
-- Peter Haller, Mill Creek

Jim Watson / AFP/ Getty Images

Republican vice-presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during a town hall meeting at the Center Court Sports Complex, October 9, 2008 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Republicans planning for future
Since syndicated columnist Thomas L. Friedman thought that paying taxes is patriotic, why doesn't he pay more ["Palin's taxing definition of patriotism," syndicated column, Oct. 9]?

If he wants everybody to be patriotic, he should lead by example and pay more.

Friedman also thinks Gov. Sarah Palin is a novice, so I assume he must think Sen. Barack Obama is also a novice. Palin has more experience than Obama. However, I will give him more experience in campaigning.
At least Palin has more knowledge of energy than Obama:

Drilling for oil does not mean that it leaves America dependent upon oil. Drilling for oil means that it will cost less in the future. Drilling for oil means that there will be more chances to discover alternative fuels. Drilling for oil means there will be future oil. Drilling for oil will build the economy and provide more jobs.

Palin's and Sen. John McCain's American future looks better than the alternative. These are better plans than Obama's do-nothing plans.
-- Steve Rhyne, Kirkland

We dodged a GOP bullet
So, wasn't it the Republican Party that was so strongly pushing for the privatization of our Social Security, with our money going directly into the stock market?

Jeez, let's be thankful they didn't get their way on that crazy idea!
-- Paul Harris, Eureka Springs, Ariz.

GOP using hate strategy
Aww, Republicans ya gotta love 'em!

Back in 1987, the late Republican National Chairman Lee Atwater perfected to strategy the creating of a demon with the felon Willie Horton and making fear- and hate-mongering a political tool and weapon ["'The Willie Hortonization of Obama,'" News, Oct. 9].

Since then, a whole cadre of fear mongers have followed, perfecting the strategy and has turned politics into a blood sport.

The master, political strategist Karl Rove, created a legion of followers that now fill Sen. John McCain's campaign staff and are shaping a new demon in the form of 1960s radical William Ayers to go after Sen. Barack Obama.

Scare enough gullible voters into believing Obama is arm and arm with a "domestic terrorist" and the GOP scores another victory. They do it because it has worked in the past and, absent anything to offer by way of solutions to the serious problems this country faces, they bank on it working again.

It may. But then again it may not. Perhaps there are enough intelligent voters to see through this hateful charade, and they will clearly tell the Republican Party that it is a new day in American politics.

The Grand Old Party has become the "Gnarly Old Party," full of arrogant, self-righteous hypocrites fueled by right-wing, hate-radio windbags who throw the word "truth" around like they somehow cornered the market on it, when in reality, they wouldn't know the truth if it jumped up and bit them in the fanny.

An angry, erratic, temperamental old man bouncing from issue to issue proclaiming, "My friends, I know how to do it. I can do it," begs for the answer as to why in 26 years he hasn't been enough of a leader to get "it" done!
-- Jerry Vaughn, Federal Way

Nip hate speech in the bud
Sen. Barack Obama a dangerous candidate?

What is truly dangerous is the anger that is engendered in a partisan and passionate crowd by painting one's opponent as "dangerous" and "not like us." What happened at a Wisconsin rally on Thursday was frightening and bordered on spilling into violence. That is over the top.

While character attacks may please the base, they also appeal to fear, hatred and some deep-down racism, which is, unfortunately, still alive and well in our beloved country.

Rather than offering an incitement to these dangerous feelings, all candidates should denounce this fever and seek to calm the crowds with reasoned arguments for their respective positions. Anyone who shouts violent words in a political rally should be immediately chastened by the candidate at the podium.
-- Martin Deppe, Chicago

Hate vs. hope campaigns
Based on the venom displayed and encouraged at the recent McCain-Palin campaign events, it appears our choice this year is between hate and hope.

How ironic that the Christian right chooses hate.
-- Gail McNiel, Bellevue

Your vote says a lot about you
All the shaking of hands, mesmerizing speeches and kissing of babies to woo a vote are almost over. Soon we will know who will lead our great nation for the next four or eight years and whether or not we will remain great.

The media have done all it can to spoon feed the liberal candidate and come down hard on the conservative. No surprise there.

As a hardworking, blue-collar conservative, I will be voting for Sen. John McCain. This was an easy choice and is not based on gender, color, ethnicity, height, weight or feelings. I have long understood who I vote for says more about who I am and less about the candidate. I cannot -- with a clear conscience and knowing the associations Sen. Barack Obama has, the anti-American teaching he sat under for 20 years, and his extremely liberal voting record -- pull the lever for him. I care too deeply about this country and the next generations.

I believe hard work and honesty still pays off, I believe in strong families, limited taxes and government, I believe that life begins at conception, marriage is between one man and one woman, and in doing well for my neighbor. I believe in tolerance without acceptance or embracing.

If you are a conservative, moderate or independent, then the choice for McCain should be clear. If you are a liberal socialist, then proudly proclaim what you are by voting for Obama. Politicians will be whoever you want them to be in order to get elected, but on Nov. 4 you will be casting a vote that tells more about who you are.

On Nov. 4 we will show who we are or who the media or others have made us. Will our vote confirm or condemn us? God bless America!
-- Dave Douglas, Snohomish

Obama is the future
Sen. John McCain is the past -- an old, tired, out-of-touch white man with few ideas and rapidly eroding integrity.

His negativity and lack of imagination represent all that is fading from the American scene. He should have the grace to retire in a dignified fashion, and cede the future to the next generation of leaders.

Sen. Barack Obama is the future -- young, progressive, biracial and multicultural, he represents everything that America is becoming.
-- Cabbie Glass, Wenatchee

Face the issues
Our country has serious issues, which we must face.

So, where do our politicians go? Lipstick on a pig? What nonsense to distract us from the real issues. We have a declining economy, two wars, terrorists on the march and an incredibly poor international image.

Please spare us the nonsense and get to the issues. I do not care which party you support, but call your representatives, senators and the campaigns and tell them to start discussing how we are going to get this country squared away.
-- John Peick, Bellevue

Double, double, toil and trouble
Mike Reilly of the Eastlake neighborhood is right on with his portrayal of Gov. Sarah Palin with a witches broom ["All in Good Fun?," Local News, Oct. 9], except she should also have on a witches hat and her nose should be growing longer each day from all the lies she is spreading while she campaigns in small-town America.

Some may think she is funny and cute and it's obvious she definitely thinks she is, but from all the negative campaigning and nasty lies she is telling, I consider her anything but funny and cute.

To me, she is the Wicked Witch of the North!
-- Pam Kitchener, Everett

McCain-Palin copy-cat campaign
Sen. Barack Obama spent well over a year running for the Democratic nomination for president on the basis of "change" in order to get this nation back on track.

Nearly everyone agrees that we're dangerously off track, and in need of getting back to our fundamental ideals. Having gained the nomination of his party, he has continued his election campaign based on the idea of "change."

The McCain-Palin ticket has now adopted the idea of change as the heart of its own campaign rhetoric. It now claims to be the vehicle that can bring necessary change to America. The sad --almost tragic -- thing about this is the fact that the McCain-Palin ticket is so devoid of original ideas and strategies for governing this nation that it has been reduced to stealing the concepts -- and even the words -- from its opponents.
-- Bruce Barnbaum, Granite Falls

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October 11, 2008 6:54 PM

The governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Candidate coverage slanted

Has your newspaper simply given up on the concept of presenting balanced "news" coverage? Two Times articles -- Thursday's on gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi ["A born salesman tries to close the deal," page one, Oct. 9] and Friday's on Gov. Christine Gregoire ["Smart, intense and struggling to woo voters," page one, Oct. 10] -- show in stark relief your slanted treatment of the candidates.

Just look at the headlines. You might as well have just written "Rossi schmuck" and "Gregoire saint." Neither article has facts regarding the actual accomplishments of the candidates, unless one counts the mention of Gregoire cooking five meals every weekend in order to make sure she could serve dinner to her family every weekday -- saintly stuff, that.

The article on Rossi really only manages to get across the idea that he has been a real-estate salesman and is always smiling, and the article on Gregoire can only manage a succession of excuses as to why she is socially awkward.

Those excuses are effusive in their praise of her cerebral bearing and intellectual qualification for the job -- this, regarding a candidate that has numerous examples of costly managerial miscues during her tenure as the head of the Department of Ecology and attorney general.

Rossi is portrayed as a lightweight who seems to not realize that if he wins the election, he will have to be governor and it might harsh his buzz. For heaven's sake, the man served as a legislator for more than 10 years and played a key role in shaping the budget -- in a bipartisan way -- during very contentious times, but your article makes is sound like he is simply not qualified for the job.
-- David Bennett, Bellevue

Rossi supporters get it
To sum up The Times front-page coverage of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and Gov. Christine Gregoire from Thursday and Friday: Rossi is a slick salesman.

On the other hand, Gregoire is incredibly smart, brimming with so many good ideas that many of us can't connect with her. Translation: Rossi supporters just don't get it! And, Gregoire had dinner with her family every night!

Thanks so much -- I think I finally understand everything I need to know about the Washington state gubernatorial race.
-- Milly Kay Baldwin, Sammamish

Try tying Gregoire to Congress, Rossi
It's interesting how all the Democrats, even Gov. Christine Gregoire, is trying their very best to tie every Republican to George W. Bush, probably because his approval rating is pretty low.

But U.S. Congress' approval ratings are even lower. Has anybody noticed that the gas prices and all this economic meltdown started when the Democrats took office?

I think gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi should tie Gregoire to the "do nothing" Congress. We, as the people of Washington, need to remember that it was she who, when she got in office, basically blew off I-912, which was the 9.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax that we voted down.

We now know that she got chummy with the Indian casinos, turning down millions of dollars of tax revenue, so they would donate thousands of dollars for her campaign.

Does anyone remember how King County basically kept recounting votes and finding extra votes here and there that were not in secure areas, but still allowed to count? It kept going until she won, then the counting stopped. Very interesting, wouldn't you say?
-- Pat Ferrell, Renton

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October 10, 2008 1:22 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

The Associated Press

Gov. Christine Gregoire and challenger Dino Rossi debate Thursday in Spokane.

Gregoire knows community
Editor, The Times:
I am writing about your page-one story, "A born salesman tries to close the deal" [Oct. 9]
Gov. Christine Gregoire always tries to connect to the community. She participates in many activities and reaches out to the community.

I belong to the Sikh community, and Gregoire has visited the Sikh Gurudwara quite often. Her daughters are also involved in her campaign and reach out to the community. Her daughter Michelle has visited the Sikh Gurudwara and other community centers to support her mother. It is this connection that solidifies her victory.

She has heard the community and helped us even during our tough times.
She revised the guidelines for the turban when the DOT had issued a statement that said, "not valid for identification."

Immigrants have faced hardships and it would be a tough task if we did not have Gov. Gregoire in office.
Politics is not about making "real-estate deals." It is about providing services and reaching out to the community. It is working together to make Washington state and the country a better place. These are tough times. The economy is in turmoil.

We need Gov. Gregoire in office more now than any time before.
-- Sarab Singh, Kent

The worried citizen
Gov. Christine Gregoire should be winning this re-election race handily.

We live in a state that has dodged the worst of the economic crisis and still has a balanced budget when California is already asking the federal government for a $7 billion emergency loan.

The problem is that she's a good governor for the very reason she's having a tough time getting re-elected: She's pragmatic and honest.

A perfect example is her intervention in two recent Seattle-area disputes: When Boeing machinists and corporate negotiators reached an impasse, Gregoire urged them to give negotiations one more try. And when Seattle made moves to eject Nickelsville from its first home, Gregoire sent a negotiator to work out a deal and let them move temporarily to state property.

In both cases she was the "cooler head."

There's nothing sexy about this kind of leadership -- no grand speeches and no stunning debate performances.

She's faced with an opponent who is the epitome of the empty promise -- with his big smile and slick debate performances.

I'm not worried about Gregoire; she'll be fine whether she's governor or not. I'm worried about us.
-- Andy Jellin, Seattle

The businessman's got what it takes
In this time of national economic crisis and the implosion of Washington Mutual, people are wondering if they'll still have jobs in six months and if they'll be able to make their mortgage payments.

We need to elect a governor who will restore the strong economic growth and opportunity we used to enjoy.
Washington state has the nation's third-highest rate of small-business failure. People who want to start their own businesses can't afford to. Others are losing their jobs because companies can't make payroll.

Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is a businessman and knows what it takes to create and keep jobs.
You want job security? Vote for Rossi.

Despite her 2004 campaign promises, Gov. Christine Gregoire has raised taxes. This has hindered job growth and left us all with less money in our pockets. Even with higher taxes, Gregoire's huge spending increases have left us with a projected billion-dollar-plus state-budget deficit for next year.

Rossi balanced the budget as a legislator in 2003 without raising taxes, and he will do it again.
We don't need higher taxes here in Washington; we need efficient government.

You want more of your paycheck in your pocket? Vote for Rossi.
--Elizabeth Stall, Bothell

Foster care has improved
Our children are too important to be subjected to partisan political attacks, and that is why I am upset with gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi lying about Gov. Christine Gregoire's record on foster care ["Radio ads criticize Gregoire on handling of sex offenders, funding for foster care," news, June 19].

Does he think we will ignore the fact that Gregoire is getting results that help foster children?

New caseworkers have been hired and investigations now begin within 24 hours instead of the previous 72 hours.

Our foster-care system has improved under Gregoire, and Rossi, a parent just like her, should understand this.
-- Josette Gregoire (not related), Seattle

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October 10, 2008 1:21 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Lose the blame game
While she held her own during the vice-presidential debate concerning the pertinent issues facing our nation, Gov. Sarah Palin modeled bipartisanship spirit with Sen. Joseph Biden.

By refusing to personally pinpoint Democrats as the only problem in the gridlocked Congress, she clearly separated herself from the "blame game" that Sens. Biden and Barack Obama incessantly play.

Neither offer any criticism of their own party for their dogged partisanship that helped lead to the mismanagement and greed that precipitated our current financial crisis. Rather, Republicans and the Bush administration are blamed for every malady that has occurred in the world during the past century.

To loosen the logjam of gridlock in the Congress, the new administration will have to reach across the aisle to help solve the major problems we face in the post- 9/11 world.

Sen. John McCain and Palin have shown throughout their political careers that including a broad spectrum of contributors reaps a beneficial harvest of ideas. Their nonpartisan style of leadership is missing from both political parties.

It's time for change in Washington beyond ideology.

The McCain / Palin team will infuse creative energy into the bipartisan flow of interaction needed to effectively manage our nation's needs.
-- Gene Harvey, Puyallup

Palin needs Internet-security lesson
The Justice Department has dangerously contradicted itself in bringing felony charges against David Kernell, the young student accused of hacking Sarah Palin's Yahoo e-mail account ["Man denies hacking Palin e-mail account," news, Oct. 9].

When the Justice Department wants to read a suspect's e-mail during an investigation, they routinely argue to courts that it is not "stored communications" and is thereby not subject to accompanying legal protections. The courts have largely agreed, and the FBI has used this investigative tool in many successful criminal investigations and subsequent prosecutions.

Ordinarily, Kernell's alleged crime would be a misdemeanor. However, the Justice Department reversed course and now claims that e-mail is stored communications after all.

The Justice Department should immediately drop its rushed and ill-considered felony charges against Kernell. And, for that matter, they should find something better to do than make a federal case out of a harmless college prank.

If Palin wishes to be a heartbeat away from being in charge of national security, she should more gracefully learn a valuable lesson about e-mail security along the campaign trail.
-- Robert Walker, Renton

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October 10, 2008 1:18 PM

Initiative 1000

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Let the dying keep their dignity
Watching my proud father die a humiliating, degrading and painful death from cancer reinforced my belief that terminal patients (those who have six months or less to live) should have the legal option to make a personal choice to die in a more dignified, humane way.

Some families have called this end-of-life prolonged suffering a "beautiful time." I doubt most terminally ill patients would use those words. There was nothing beautiful or compassionate about my father's death.

Initiative-1000 gives mentally competent adult Washington state residents the legal choice to make a voluntary, informed and personal decision with their physician and their families, to obtain and self-administer life-ending medication. Numerous safeguards are in place to protect the patient from influence or coercion. Oregon has had this law in place for 10 years and it has not been abused.

In a country founded on personal liberties and individual freedoms, isn't how one dies one of the most personal choices a human being can make?

You may choose not to exercise this choice for yourself, but do not deny others the right to make a different choice.
-- Jan Whitsitt, Medina

Get the facts, Sheen
As much as I loved Martin Sheen on "The West Wing," he is using his television persona to act as if he has actually read Initiative-1000.

Contrary to his statements in the TV ad, there are many layers of safeguards to assure the person making the request is not being coerced or is not mentally depressed.

There is plenty of time to allow the person to rescind his decision, and he can do so at any time.

It is insulting to assume any person making the request automatically needs psychiatric help.
-- Brian Hogan, Kent

Vote for choice
It seems Mary Lund ["Say goodbye to civil liberties," Northwest Voices, Oct. 8] has been lied to and has been frightened into opposing I-1000. Some unscrupulous person surely put into her head that the initiative applies to people with disabilities, which is totally not true.

I-1000 applies only to persons who have a terminal diagnosis.

The insurance companies are not involved; the decision is between the terminally ill person and their physician.

The great Steven Hawking could not avail himself of I-1000 despite his profound physical disability. Former Gov. Booth Gardener has a devastating illness, but the law would not apply to him either.

I-1000 is about civil liberties. It is about the right to choose.

Out of our own misguided sense of morality, possessiveness or fear of death, we deny terminally ill people a fundamental right -- the right to determine the future course of what's left of their lives.
I-1000 extends basic rights of choice we should all have.

Fear-mongering is a common tactic of those who want to impose their views and values on others. Don't buy it.

Vote "yes" on I-1000. Vote for choice.
-- Stephen Lamphear, Burien

Be informed
I read the letter from Mary Lund of Bothell with horror.

She claims that insurance companies could somehow drop coverage of her disabled child and instead offer to pay for fatal doses of medication.

Good grief. There is no such provision in I-1000.

To be eligible for a death-with-dignity prescription, two doctors must agree that the patient has less than six months to live and that the patient is able to make an informed decision about his or her decision.
No one can force a patient to make a final end-of-life decision.

If Lund fears the insurance companies, take them on, but don't force terminally ill people to endure pain and suffering unnecessarily.

Lund is spewing the kind of lies and scare tactics opponents are using to fight against I-1000.

I agree with her on one thing: Please be informed on the issue before you vote.
-- Chris Fruitrich, Seattle

Bad medicine
The legislation of I-1000 is terribly flawed.

It will lead the practice of medicine in directions it has not seen before in this state. The law attempts to remove the stigma of "physician-assisted suicide" by replacing it with "self-administration of a lethal drug." The law would, however, allow for the administration of the dose in the case of the disability of the patient.

This removes the "safeguard" of self-administration and allows for another to end the life of a patient.
Until now, this would be considered homicide.

The law requires that the patient have no more than six months to live in order to be enacted. This is incredibly difficult to predict, and physicians, including myself, are routinely wrong. Most physicians have had patients who have been discharged from hospice care due to their failure to die in six months and actually flourish under the care of the hospice staff.

An error of special concern is the requirement in the law that the physician lie on a patient's death certificate. In a case of self-administered medication under the statute, the physician would be required to state that the cause of death was not suicide, but the disease process that the patient suffered from. This is fraud at best, a redefinition of suicide at worst. What kind of precedent does it set to require a licensed professional to lie on a legal document in order to be in compliance with a law?

Section 18 redefines suicide by barring the use of the words "suicide," "assisted suicide," "mercy killing" or "homicide" in cases of death by self-administered medication in accordance to the initiative. There is no reasonable justification for this change in definition. Even the editorial board of The Seattle Times, which supports this initiative, states "Make no mistake. This is assisted suicide" ["Death with dignity: Approve I-1000," Times, editorial, Oct. 5]. In accordance with the above errors, the initiative would also bar any enactments of insurance-company clauses against suicide.

The arguments for suicide in dying are many, and some are compelling. Suffering is difficult to watch and to go through. Pain can be a brutal mistress. It is often argued that if a ventilator can be removed or antibiotics be stopped or a surgery refused, why can a prescription for death not be written?

As patients, we have the right to refuse intervention. We can deny the placement of a tube. A woman in the throes of a difficult delivery can refuse a Caesarean section and a person can refuse lifesaving transfusion because of religious beliefs. Removing a ventilator is in the same category; it is a refusal of an intervention by the patient or their representative and allows a disease process to take its natural course. It is not an overt act by another to take a person's life outside of the disease process.

This legislation is misguided. It will be broadened over time, as most laws are. The Americans with Disabilities Act will be used to force open such initiatives to allow those without terminal illnesses to obtain physician-assisted suicide.

Physicians unwilling to participate may at some time be sanctioned for not writing the requested prescription. If this seems far-fetched, the Washington Board of Pharmacy has recently decided that pharmacists, who do not give the abortion-inducing morning after pill to patients due to personal belief, can be sanctioned by the board.

I-1000 is bad medicine and should not be passed.
-- Chris Beard, Mukilteo

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October 9, 2008 5:05 PM

Boeing strike

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Boeing machinists and supporters cheer outside a company administration building in Seattle following announcement that negotiations will resume.

Machinists should settle
Editor, The Times:
"Boeing, strikers, returning to table" [Times page one, Oct. 9] says the Machinists union is striking to maintain the jobs they still have left in the Northwest.

I think the union should settle because its members still are making a decent wage, and because the jobs could be outsourced to Illinois: There are plenty of Rust-Belt locations willing to set up a factory floor quickly.

In the 1980s, there was a company making strip-mining equipment in Danville, Ill. The union always demanded and got prevailing wages. The end result was that the company moved all but a sales office to Mississippi, where wages were lower. Nobody in the union thought it could happen. It did.

Does the International Association of Machinists really believe it can't happen here, just because the strike is costing the company money?
-- Keith Wellman, Freeland

Boeing continuing Confederate ways
Boeing spokesmen, facing the threat of a long Machinists strike, are now threatening to move production jobs to the South and turn Puget Sound into a rust belt (although aluminum and carbon fiber don't rust).

Let's put this into historical perspective: As far back as the 1930s, Southern senators, whose votes were crucial to the passage of FDR's New Deal legislation, managed to exclude application of minimum-wage laws to agricultural workers and domestic workers, aka African-American workers.

By the 1950s, Southern states, in an effort to fend off unions (and the prospects of -- horrors! -- black union membership) had passed so-called "Right to Work" laws.

Seeking ever-cheaper labor costs, Northern manufacturers moved their plants south. Detroit's competitors were not in Asia, but in Kentucky or Mississippi. The former Confederacy was for industrialists then what China is now.

Boeing continues to play the Southern strategy.

And isn't it interesting that Airbus, operating in nations with much more highly unionized work forces, is Boeing's major competitor?
-- David Echols, Kirkland

Management is the problem
I write as the Machinists strike at Boeing goes into its second month.

Issues such as pay and the cost of health insurance, which impacts pay, are part of the reason for the walkout. There is however, a more significant issue at stake, which involves whether there should be input by the union members when decisions are made concerning subcontracting or outsourcing of work presently done in-house.

Of course, the obvious concern of the union members is that they have done and can do the various subsets of the final product and, to a high degree of excellence, they see wage increases on the books of little benefit if the jobs are shipped elsewhere.

There is, however, a further consideration. During the 1980s, the teachings of W. Edwards Deming, the so-called author of the "Japan (production) miracle," had some vogue in the United States, and when implemented, were given credit for saving the Ford Motor Co. from bankruptcy.

Deming said, among other things, that the worker is not the problem; management is the problem. He taught that it was important to emphasize quality, that this was achieved by talking to the workers -- the actual people who made the product -- and by listening and accepting their input.

In my (long) experience in the factory, management strains mightily when workers on the line deign to offer that input, fighting it, actually in some cases to the detriment of the product. When workers, united in their union organization, make that joint effort to share in the decision-making process, seeking the goals of better products and of higher profits and, yes, consideration of community and national interests, they are seen by some as a threat to management authority and as a foe to be defeated.

The Boeing top-executive goal is to fragment production to many locations and nations, to nonunion shops to the detriment of quality; and not to actually save money, but rather to ensure sole management control without input from any people who actually have their hands on the product.

Deming must be rolling in his grave.
-- Carl Schwartz, Machinists District 751 (ret.), Sammamish

Union forced workers to strike
I have many patients who work for Boeing, and recently four or five said they did not vote for, nor do they agree with, the strike but support it because they feel forced to by the union.

They are getting $150 a week strike pay, costing their company untold millions at a time when our economy can ill afford it, and they are having to change their insurance to COBRA, which they cannot afford.
I think it is time for the workers to quit being so greedy and go back to work for the good of our community, our country and themselves.

It is a shame President Bush does not step in and stop the strike for our national security and the good of our economy. I supported Bush, but I think he has become totally dysfunctional.
-- Michael deBerardinis, M.D., Auburn

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October 9, 2008 5:02 PM

Financial bailout

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Make Wall Street pay
Richard Fuld, chief executive of the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, received an estimated $350 million in compensation between 2000 and 2007? ["Lehman exec defends big bonuses," News, Oct. 7.]

How can one person be worth more than a third of a billion dollars for seven years of work? Where do you sign up for such a position? I have a good job, and my employer might be upset, but I might consider switching jobs for that kind of pay increase.

Fuld claimed Lehman had a compensation committee that made sure the interests of the executives and employees were aligned with the shareholders'. Really? I suppose if Fuld had been paid only $5 million per year rather than $50 million, he would have defected to one of the other financial institutions that ended up in the same financial mess.

Somebody should ask those shareholders if they feel their interests were aligned by paying someone such a ridiculous amount of money, while running the company into the ground!

For his incompetence and irresponsible risk-taking, Fuld should be penalized rather than rewarded. The pain he has caused to his employees and stockholders is immense. He and the others who are responsible for today's financial crisis should be made to repay all excessive compensation and should also spend some quality time behind bars, where they can reflect on their dubious leadership skills.
-- Steve Layman, Seattle

Government already has answers
For those who think $700 billion is a tidy sum, it might be good to point out that it is peanuts compared to our current $10 trillion debt.

As with energy and many other things, the phrase "too little too late" might fit. We have a lot to do, and changing money from one hand to the other without anything useful happening is why, for the last 50 years, we have made very little progress.

When I was a teen, we talked about the time a car could go from zero to 60. I drove a car that turned 12.25 seconds in the quarter mile. Yet few realized, at the same time, our aircraft industry had a manned vehicle that did zero to outer space in eight minutes.

This same industry at the time had the answers to many of our current challenges, including energy. Few grasped that then, and current rhetoric tells us only generalities to try to cover up what those who are currently making the calls should know.

Current action shows a dismal level of knowledge in this area. We must start looking and dealing realistically with life, and we must start using what we have known for more than 50 years.

Debate all you want, but our required path is clear, whether we know it or not.
-- Hugh Coleman, Kelso

Main Street key to U.S. economy
Once again, everyone -- the politicians, the economists and the bankers -- miss the key point that, unless the benefits of tax cuts reach Main Street and the American consumer, our economic recovery will sputter and fail.

About 76 percent of the U.S. economy is consumer (spending) driven, so unless that majority feels secure to spend and earns enough to spend, nothing will change. Bailing out the banks, while the American consumer bleeds to death by high credit-card interest, is a national shame and a Pyrrhic, hypocritical effort to save those whose greed drove this great country and the world into this peril.

The solution is simple: Lower credit-card rates while freezing spending limits, until balances get reduced to avert credit-card defaults, which hurt banks.

Work with homeowners who have lost jobs or earnings to save their homes from foreclosure.
Doing these two things alone will boost the Consumer Confidence Index and, with reduced interest rates, security and the peace of mind in being able to keep their homes, Americans will go out and shop again; things will improve with more money in circulation.

To President Bush, Treasure Secretary Henry Paulson, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama: Think of people before you think about financial institutions, and the results will surprise you. Think of Americans first if you want the American economy to improve.
-- Vik Puri, Seattle

Be transparent, government
I can't believe American International Group Inc. is getting another bailout ["Fed to loan AIG another $38B," News, Oct. 9].

$37.8 billion more for a company that has already received $85 billion and has been sending executives on ridiculously expensive vacation/spa weekends in California during the financial crisis? This has got to be one of the craziest things I've ever heard.

Two things government has failed at: solving the problem, and transparency in their efforts. One reason people are so upset (and anxious) is because there's no clear sense of what's going on, where it's going and what the government is doing.

Neither party, specifically Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, has been willing or able to discuss specifics on what can, should and will be done to solve the financial problems.

I urge everyone to write or call their representatives and ask them to increase the transparency of the government's actions (and inactions) and time spent discussing with the people of this country what is being done. Elected officials must understand that without knowledge of their constituency, only anger, anxiety and more confusion will result.
-- Matt Padberg, Federal Way

Help pay bailout, AIG
On Oct. 8, AIG spent $440,000 on a retreat to the St. Regis Hotel in California after receiving a federal bailout ["AIG scolded for 'wining and dining,'." News, Oct. 8].

With the state of the economy now, Americans are suffering from the loss of jobs, homes and health insurance. Yet, within a week of getting bailed out with taxpayers' money, executives from the company are getting the royal treatment.

I think it's irresponsible and negligent for companies like AIG to blow thousands, if not millions, of dollars on unnecessary items.

If the company had so much money to spend on a retreat, it should be investing it toward a plan to pay off the bailout.
-- Benny Chung, San Jose, Calif.

Hold Wall Street accountable
I am outraged at the news of AIG executives attending a $440,000 retreat after the company was bailed out with 85 billion taxpayer dollars!

I don't know what actions the federal government is planning to take, but here are a few suggestions:

Immediately rescind the $85 billion loan.

Start a formal criminal investigation of AIG, its board members and the CEO, CFO, COO and all executives who attended the retreat. The full weight of the Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, the Senate and state agencies must be brought to bear.

Arrest and prosecute any of their executives and board members who participated in any criminal activities, and seize their company and personal assets for payment of damages.

The people who have criminally caused this financial meltdown need to be held accountable. I don't know of a more perfect opportunity to do so than this one.

We must stand up to these people now and make it perfectly clear that this criminal behavior will not be tolerated ever again. We also must re-regulate this industry and demand that our representatives conduct thorough oversight.

Executive compensation and perks must change, and if this isn't done and soon, then the actions of these criminals may trigger an angry backlash of the American people. That may result in grave danger for this nation.
-- Bill Davis, Kingston

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October 9, 2008 5:00 PM

Race for the White House

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

McCain patronized viewers
Sen. John McCain, don't patronize me by calling me your friend ["Tension, but little venom," page one, Oct. 8].

The 80-plus lobbyists in your campaign, including many who work for the financial and insurance industries that are responsible for the meltdown of the economy, are your friends. George Bush, whom you voted with more than 90 percent of the time, is your friend. The war profiteers, who are cashing in on Iraq, are your friends. The mega-rich and corporations, who are the only real beneficiaries of your tax cuts, are certainly your friends. I am definitely not your friend.

By the way, you kept repeating, "I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him. I'll get him no matter what, and I know how to do it," Sen. McCain, my friend, either you have kept this knowledge on exactly how to capture bin Laden to yourself these last seven years (which borders on treason), or more likely you are making another empty promise to try to swing voters.

Since the "Straight Talk Express" obviously ran off a cliff long ago, maybe you could get around in a rusty, smoke-belching, 1972 Maverick.
-- Rick Kalamar, Shoreline

Obama doesn't rely on past
Presidential candidates have been defining themselves in terms of successful past presidents since the birth of our nation. Political pundits and the media are quick to make this connection and spew the likenesses as well.

Sen. Barack Obama's message of change, and his courage to take on the challenges of the 21st century, not based on the past, reinforce my confidence in the future of this country.

His is a new message that does not seek to identify with the past or with past presidents' successes. His vision of change and grasp of all the issues that face Americans in the 21st century can't be denied. He has looked at the failures and is willing to lead this country in a new direction based on lessons learned.

If Obama is elected, I believe he will become one of those presidents that future presidential candidates will strive to emulate. So when I hear pundits, like Jeff Greenfield on CBS, after the Oct. 8 debate, say Obama is channeling Bill Clinton, I am amazed. Obama channels no one, except perhaps the hopes of all Americans.
-- Nanette Palo, Puyallup

Follow-up questions
Following Tuesday's presidential debate, I have just a few questions and/or comments for Sen. John McCain:

You claim you know how to get Osama bin Laden. Then, what the heck have you been waiting for?

You said we need to say "no" to another Rwanda or Holocaust. Then what, may I ask, would you call the situation in Darfur?

You said, "We have to give people choice in America." Then why do you propose to deny women the right to choose?
-- Allison Wegg, Seattle

McCain unqualified
It wasn't until Tuesday night's debate that I realized Sen. John McCain is not qualified to be president.
He appears to be incapable of the simultaneous intricate analysis that is required to juggle and resolve multiple complex problems. Instead, he can only beat the drum of simplistic reasoning.

He says, referring to Sen. Barack Obama, that we cannot afford time for on-the-job training. McCain's problem, I fear, is that he is incapable of on-the-job learning.
-- Mark Miller, Seattle

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October 9, 2008 4:58 PM

Indentured graduates

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Teach financial responsibility, parents
The supposedly touching story of student Lora Ladd's inability to repay her student loans speaks to too many of our young people today who take out loans at a time "when they've never needed to be financially responsible" ["With no way out of trouble, more students likely to default," page one, Oct. 6].

Are we failing our children by not teaching financial responsibility at a young age, so they don't get themselves into this predicament? Perhaps we are seeing the results in our current economic situation.

My suggestion to Ladd and other young adults is to stop whining, postpone college for a couple of years and get a full-time job, live frugally and open an interest-bearing savings account. When you have saved enough for tuition, go to college and work part-time. No student loans to default on or repay.

Many of us who were determined to go to college did it just this way.
-- Ruth Osborn, Bellevue

Subsidize U.S. higher education
To the letter writers who choose to blame the victims in the college-loan stories and tell highly-motivated achievers to "go cheap," I would like to point out that the current system of paying these loans back can pile penalties on top of interest rates that can be punitive. Having two children use loans as well as grants and mom-and-pop scholarships, I know the system.

Let's also recall that this wealthy, largest Western democracy puts the burden of higher education in the laps of the students and their families. I think if enough people here understood that in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and many other lands, meritocracy leads to nearly fully subsidized higher education. If more people knew this, would they not rise up and ask, "Why not here?"?

But we have known for years that the Western world has had universal health care for some time now, but not here. Why not? Docile acceptance of the status quo. If our system were proposed in other countries, would they not riot in the streets?

Meanwhile, we continue to elect President Bush and his ilk because we have been so dumbed down by the press and the oligarchs in control that we no longer recognize how to vote for our own economic interests.
-- Jack McClurg, Marysville

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October 8, 2008 4:39 PM

Presidential debate

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Scott Olson / The Associated Press

Sen. John McCain, foreground, and Sen. Barack Obama share a rare laugh during Tuesday night's town-hall debate in Nashville, Tenn.

Iraq is no success
Editor, The Times:
During Tuesday's debate, Sen. John McCain tried once again to pitch the Iraq war as a success story, asserting that victory -- a real "mission accomplished" -- is right around the bend ["Tension, but little venom," Times, page one, Oct. 8].

There is no victory cry that can be cobbled together on the backs of this war's human tallies: nearly 4,200 U.S. soldiers killed, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and humanitarian crises stemming from more than 2 million Iraqi refugees.

McCain uses "the surge" as justification for starting and continuing a war that has been wrong from the outset. The United States has dug its heels into Iraq, constructing the world's largest embassy in a country where our invasion and occupation has wreaked devastation and ruin. We are establishing permanent military bases against Iraqi requests, keeping U.S. military might on the watch and prowl over Mideast oil reserves.

McCain's position on Iraq does not signal good judgment, nor does his insistence that victory can yet be wrung from the Iraqi soil. It is representative of his penchant to march toward war, and his incomprehension about the desperate need for the United States to practice diplomacy rather than trumpeting the drumbeats and guns of war.
-- Nancy Dickeman, Seattle

Debate redundancy
What I saw Tuesday night was a repeat of the first debate.

It doesn't matter what the question was, the answer from either participant rambled on about this, that or the other thing.

Can we please have a debate? To debate means to argue, not continually give us your ideas on things. (Look up the meaning of the word "debate," if you don't believe me.) When will Sen. Barack Obama bring up the Keating 5? Is McCain blackmailing him or something?

It has been drilled into me that we use 25 percent of the world's oil, but only produce 3 percent. Got it. Tell me something new, or I'm sleeping through the entire next debate!
-- Steve Drake, Seattle

Bomb joke not funny, McCain
During Tuesday's presidential debate, Senator John McCain said he was "just joking" with one of his friends, when he sang "bomb, bomb Iran."

What a great joker!

Someone who thinks he is fit to be president is joking about bombing other countries? Wow!
I would have liked to have seen someone in the room ask him how he would feel if a politician from another country "joked" about bombing the United States.

I am pretty sure he would not like that joke at all and think that those people must be terrorists, according to his definition of terrorism.

This man shows anything but leadership qualities. He sounds and acts like a senile, old man, running around mumbling to himself and calling everyone else stupid.

I hope people of this country can wake up and see the evil they are facing before it is too late. They did not do that eight years ago, but, hopefully, they have learned by now.
-- Farokh Talebi, Kirkland

McCain's policies scary
Sen. John McCain and his logic (or lack thereof) scares me.

During the debate last night, he said that he wouldn't raise taxes for anyone, but he would lower taxes for some people. He even implied that he would lower taxes for as many people as Sen. Barack Obama will. But the money to run the country -- and, hopefully, to start paying off the national debt -- has to come from somewhere.

Under the tax plan McCain preaches, where will this money come from? If McCain doesn't plan to undo President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, we will lose even more revenue. This is not the way to handle the economic crisis.

Another thing he said that frightened me: He clearly stated that nuclear power is clean and safe. Excuse me, but does no one remember the Chernobyl disaster? I hope people don't buy into his unsupported lies.
Besides these twisted energy and economy policies, McCain said little about his own policies for the future, only saying what he has voted for or misquoting Obama. Sometimes, things he said about Obama were outright lies, with no more grounding in fact than the "safety" of nuclear reactors.

McCain is dangerous. I am grateful to all the war veterans, but that does not make someone suited for the presidency.
-- Kelsey Josund (age 15), Lake Forest Park

The candidates needed to heel
After watching the "town hall" debate and seeing the terse, frustrated look on moderator Tom Brokaw's face as he tried to make something meaningful of the evening, I couldn't help but think the debate commission should take a lesson from Larry and Kirby.

Kirby is a young, frisky golden retriever, and Larry is Kirby's owner. They are very loyal to each other. Rather than relying on an electric fence -- used in big areas where dogs spend a lot of time chasing deer or getting lost -- Larry gave Kirby an electric collar. It took a few times for the dog to realize that getting a little jolt meant stop and come back. Now all he has to do is hear the warning tone, and he gets the message and returns to base.

How much better the debate would have been if Brokaw could have had such a tool when the candidates wandered away from the question!
-- Bill Clapp, Seattle

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October 8, 2008 4:10 PM

Initiative 1029: training for caregivers

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Just doesn't make sense
Maureen O'Hagan's story on I-1029 ["Initiative would require more training for caregivers," page one, Oct. 6] was spot on in explaining the problems with the Service Employees International Union's costly and unnecessary initiative to more than double training requirements for a broad range of caregivers for the elderly and disabled. I would like to elaborate on a couple of points touched on in her article.

First, the $29.7 million estimated cost in the first biennium is only the tip of the iceberg. Among the many costs not included in this number is the cost to taxpayers for the FBI background checks, for which the FBI charges $85.

So with 20,000 new caregivers each year and assuming that employers hire two out of every three applicants, taxpayers can expect to fork over $2.5 million to the FBI each year.

All of these background checks -- including those for private agencies, homes and facilities -- would be funneled through the Department of Social and Health Services, which means we would need a new bureaucracy there just to process all the paper. DSHS would pay the FBI and could not pass the costs on to the applicants or employers.

The FBI checks can take six to eight weeks, leaving applicants in limbo longer than most would tolerate. This mess would degrade current practice at many agencies that already conduct 50-state background checks through private services that are quick, reasonably priced and far more complete and accurate than the FBI database.

Second, the comments by Nancy Dapper of the Alzheimer's Association for Western and Central Washington are not accurate. She says that Washington is "somewhat unique because people who are ailing have more opportunity to stay in their own homes" rather than go into nursing homes.

In fact, home-care agencies throughout the country, and in many other countries, are caring for seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in their homes in large and growing numbers. There is nothing unique about Washington.

Dapper goes on to say that as a result of the move toward more home-based care, caregivers are increasingly performing services on a par with those performed in nursing homes. This is simply false. Home-care agencies are strictly nonmedical and are not licensed to provide the complex medical services available from skilled nurses in nursing homes.

Alzheimer's sufferers can receive a wide range of nonmedical care at home, including assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and toileting.

Home-care agencies train their caregivers on these services today. Extending the training to include services on a par with those performed in nursing homes would require home-care agencies, and ultimately their clients, to pay for training they would be prohibited from using under their license.

The cost of care would increase with no benefit to the clients -- exactly the point made by Deb Murphy of Aging Services of Washington.
-- Tom Boughner, Sequim

Let's consult the money tree
Our seniors' wisdom and knowledge is the foundation for our families and communities. Should we deny them the compassionate care they deserve?

One of the initiatives on the November ballot is I-1029, the "training initiative" for all long-term care workers. It mandates new requirements for the hiring (FBI background checks), training (75 hours) and certification of a broad range of caregivers. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong.

Here's why:

The reality is I-1029 will harm both seniors and compassionate caregivers receiving and providing care services. Our company hires and trains caregivers to provide nonmedical home care to our greatest generation.

Training costs money, and for seniors who don't qualify for public assistance, those costs are ultimately passed on to them. The whole idea of nonmedical home care is to provide seniors and their families an affordable alternative to home health care when all they need to stay in their homes is help with household tasks and perhaps some personal care. We already provide targeted training for these nonmedical skills, and we do it efficiently to keep our fees reasonable.

We also provide supervision available to our caregivers 24/7. Should they encounter a situation they need help with, our staff is on-call and available to help. The added training required by I-1029 is not specific to the services we offer. It's a one-size-fits-all course including skills our caregivers could never use with our clients, such as caring for disabled children.

Our clients' fees would increase by about 25 percent because of this training.

I-1029 would make home care less available.

Requiring 75 hours of training will create a barrier to thousands of entry-level caregivers who just want to help seniors but don't want to spend two weeks in a classroom to qualify. If thousands of workers are eliminated from our care-delivery system at a time when the need is rapidly increasing, who will care for our seniors?

The provision for FBI background checks would degrade our current hiring practices. We already do a 50-state background check derived from court records, which are far more complete and accurate than the FBI database. Also, the FBI background check process takes weeks and is much more costly.

I-1029 would hurt all of us as taxpayers. With the nation facing a financial crisis and with the state facing a projected $3.2 billion budget shortfall, I-1029 would create a new state bureaucracy at a cost of at least $30 million in the first two years.

I-1029 would, however, benefit one group: union bosses at the Service Employees International Union.

Their Local 775 sponsored the initiative, and they wrote themselves into the bill by requiring that they do much of the training.

We strongly urge your readers to reject I-1029 by voting "no" this November.
-- Kelly Cavenah, Olympia

There's nothing wrong with more training
Concerning Monday's story by Maureen O'Hagan, we believe there is more that has been left unsaid.
First, this initiative has strong support and should not be dismissed as just a union effort. The SEIU [Service Employees International Union] may be the financial arm, but there is a long list of supporters. This initiative is good public policy.

Second, the issues addressed by I-1029 are not new.

In 2000 the Washington State Long-term Care Ombudsman Program authored a report on the failures in the community-caregiver system. A key recommendation was to establish a certification mechanism for community-based caregivers -- those who work in boarding and adult family homes. That certification was patterned closely after the one that now applies to aides who work in nursing homes and hospitals.

The substance of I-1029 is a compromise that we can support even though it may fall short of the ideal.
It addresses background checks, training and certification in a uniform way that treats Medicaid and private-pay providers the same way.

The curriculum will be relevant to the adult learner and flexible.

It allows providers to offer their own training curriculum as approved by DSHS [Department of Social and Health Services]. Nothing in I-1029 would prevent part of the training hours to be supervised on-the-job training. I-1029 is not one-size-fits-all as opponents argue.

Yes, $30 million is a lot of money, but it is less than one-half of 1 percent of the total Medicaid budget for the state. And, it is cheaper than the millions of dollars in lawsuits that DSHS has paid out for failures in our long-term-care system.

It is interesting that opponents of I-1029 made many of the same arguments in 2000 when the training standards were increased from 22 to 34 hours. They said it was too costly, inflexible and would put them out of business.

They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

I-1029 is a wise investment in the future of Washington's long-term-care system, and is not one that we can afford to postpone.
--Nancy J. Dapper, Seattle

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October 8, 2008 4:09 PM

Boeing strike

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Find a way
I think both Boeing executives and IAM [International Association of Machinists] union leaders ought to have their heads whacked together to knock some sense into them.

The company's slogan is "find a way." How do the union and company think this strike is going to be solved? By burying their heads in the sand?

If they talked to one another again, maybe they would find some common ground.
Negotiation requires each side to give a little.
-- Rebecca R. Hathaway, Federal Way

Something is better than nothing
Boeing's chairman and CEO, Jim McNerney, is only stating a truism when he said that any union that emphasizes only wage and benefits in any settlement package will eventually negotiate themselves right out of a job. An increase in wage and benefits, without a corresponding increase in productivity, is a dead-end street for both the union and industry involved.

Those who choose to ignore this simple economic fact do so at their peril, as auto workers are now finding out. Many have lost their benefits, and those who have lost their jobs are now working for wages that are half of what they once earned.

Is all of this long-term pain really worth the short-term gain?

Settle for what you can get because it's better than nothing at all.
-- Roy Weston, Burnaby, B.C.

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October 8, 2008 4:07 PM

Rossi lawsuit politically motivated

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Leave your politics at the door
So much for the myth of the nonpolitical Supreme Court judges ["Ex-judges sue Rossi, builders, challenge fundraising," Times, news, Oct. 7].

For Faith Ireland and Robert Utter to use their prestige as former Supreme Court judges in this thoroughly partisan way demeans the Supreme Court.
Shame on them.

Any number of other political folks, PACs [political-action committees] or hacks could have brought this suit.
Is it any wonder that citizen initiatives reviewed and cleared over the years by various AGs [attorneys general] still got tanked by the Supreme Court?

If ever there were an advertisement for the need for divided government in Olympia with Republicans running some branch of government and Democrats another -- this is it.
-- Frank Klapach, Port Orchard

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October 8, 2008 2:01 PM

Seattle parks levy

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Parks for next generation
I strongly support Seattle Parks For All Proposition 2, and this is why: I watched as the grass-roots committee developed a comprehensive package of park projects that provides a rare opportunity to invest in a parks legacy for generations to come ["Yes on market upgrade; No on parks levy," editorial, Oct. 7].

This comes at a unique point in our history. Seattle's density is increasing at an all-time rate, and vacant land is virtually disappearing. At the same time, Seattle's parks are increasingly heavily used.

With Proposition 2, we have the opportunity to address these needs with a package that will benefit every citizen in the city.

Every area will receive new neighborhood parks, and missing links will be completed in our open-space and trail systems. Proposition 2 will also provide new recreational opportunities for our citizens and improve our citywide treasures, such as the Arboretum, Discovery Park and Jefferson Park.

Our citizens faced a similar decision almost 100 years ago, when Seattle was still virtually covered with trees. With incredible foresight, our community invested in implementation of a citywide Olmsted Plan and set aside hundreds of acres of land to form the backbone of our park system.

With Proposition 2, we can leave a legacy for the next 100 years.
-- Karen Daubert, campaign co-chair of Seattle Parks For All, Seattle

Pass levy for community
Financial times may be tough, and many (including your newspaper) don't seem to believe that renewing a parks levy now is the right thing to do.

As a new homeowner with a tight budget, I understand this. But I support Proposition 2 because public parks are precisely the type of civic infrastructure that we need most when we are pinching pennies. Public parks provide the quality of life that I searched for when choosing to live in Seattle, and a continued investment will ensure world-class parks long into the future.

Not everyone can escape to the mountains or ocean on the weekends, but everyone can enjoy our public parks, the open green spaces, beaches, various trails, playing fields and playgrounds.

This proposition will cost the average homeowner $81 per year to continue investing in the parks that so many enjoy. That's less than the current parks levy, and is an investment well worth making.

Furthermore, the projects in the levy are spread throughout Seattle's neighborhoods, providing a place for all to gather. This levy is about what sort of community we create for every citizen in Seattle and for the future.

I hope others will join me in voting "yes" on Proposition 2 to ensure the communal health of our city.
-- Tricia Vander Leest, Seattle

Parks a wise investment
The Seattle Parks and Green Space Levy is being supported by my neighbors because it is a wise investment.

By supporting the parks levy, voters can enhance the lives of people of all ages, economic and cultural backgrounds right now -- and also leave a legacy for future generations. The parks levy was put together by a group of dedicated volunteers who value community, the local economy and the environment.

Please join this group by voting "yes" for parks.
-- Cheryl dos Remedios, Seattle

Levy wasn't created in haste
As chair of the Citizen Advisory Committee that prepared the Parks and Green Spaces Levy package Seattle residents will vote on this fall, I tend to disagree with the Times editorial that it "feels hastily put together."

The diverse projects chosen for the $146 million parks levy were selected from existing neighborhood and other city plans based on years of grass-roots input and citizen efforts. The committee identified the highest-priority, most feasible projects that provided green space in Seattle's most underserved neighborhoods. See them all at

Our city must keep our open-space investments at pace with the growth in population and density if we are to maintain the quality of life that attracts business and keeps our communities safe and enjoyable. Now is not the time to turn our backs on green space, especially in the neighborhoods that need it most.

Quality public parks are even more important in tough economic times. For less than a quarter a day for the average homeowner, we can ensure that our entire community has free access to recreational open space. Vote "yes" on Proposition 2 this fall and continue smart investments in our public parks and green spaces.
-- Beth Purcell, chair of Citizen Advisory Committee on Parks and Green Spaces Levy, Seattle

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October 8, 2008 1:59 PM

Indentured graduates

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

College far from easy
As a current college student carrying some of the same burdens that were pointed out in your article "Young, educated, drowning in debt" [page one, Oct. 5], it was somewhat comforting to know there are other students struggling financially.

Finances should not play a leading role in determining ones future, and should not hold anyone back from reaching his or her full potential.

Let's not forget about other expenses such as health care, food and rent. Students today have too much to worry about, when the only thing that should be of any concern is getting an education.

I thank you for pointing out how tough it is today for college students. Instead of dreaming of buying a house one day, many students can only dream of the day when their student loans are paid in full.

When my parents finished college, they were able to settle in a small house. My mother was even able to stay home with my sister and me when we were young.

It's a shame that we have reached this point.

What are the best options available for students right now? There may not be one solution, but there may be ways of lessening the tremendous load we students carry, and I'm sure a lot of college students or college graduates would find any information you can provide very helpful. What can we all do to change the way education operates? What are some helpful tips on budgeting?
-- Kimberly Kish, Seattle

Student loans vs. work
Before retiring, for 45 years I operated a small Seattle manufacturing company.

In the 1960s and 1970s, every summer we employed three to four part-time college students. Some of them started to look for summer jobs as early as January. Since the end of the 1980s, we have received not a single application for summer work.

It is very likely that availability of student loans changed a useful tradition.
-- Vigo Rauda, Seattle

Colleges have a spending problem
The student-loan industry lies at a crossroads. Sinking profits from weakening credit and securities markets have led many major, private student-loan lenders to be more judicious with their resources. This has shifted a greater burden onto public lenders like Sallie Mae, which is already overburdened with existing federally backed loans.

While the cost of attending college is undoubtedly high, and students are suffering a growing debt burden, the student-loan "crisis" may not be the catastrophe the industry is portraying.

The real cause of the growing cost of education is the growing addiction to spending in colleges nationwide. Higher education has a spending problem, and it is trying pass its own excesses on to the government and taxpayers.

The need for a bailout of student-loan companies may be overstated, despite the recent difficulties. Total borrowing through private student-loan companies grew by almost 900 percent over the past 10 years.

It is easy to attempt to solve a problem by throwing more money at it, but rarely is that the right solution.

Unfortunately, the government is taking just that approach: Under a new federal loan-stabilization program, the Department of Education has sent new funding to Sallie Mae in the form of a loan to provide up to $20 billion in new government-backed loans this year.
-- Matthew Glans, legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute, Chicago

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October 8, 2008 1:58 PM

Sidewalk cafes

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Proposal discriminates against blind
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is a champion of saving the environment. However, both he and the Seattle City Council majority lack sensitivity to people who are blind or sight-impaired.

The City Council vote Monday ["Seattle council backs more sidewalk cafes," Local News, Oct. 7] can only be construed as discrimination against pedestrians and those who are disabled. Encouraging more sidewalk clutter by reducing sidewalk-cafe permit fees by 74 percent will mean impeding access to those who cannot see.

We hope the public hearings on this issue will result in testimony by those who are disabled and who want to walk in safety.
-- Bill Wippel, executive director of Tape Ministries Northwest, SeaTac

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October 7, 2008 4:52 PM

Battle over reservist's Kennewick yard

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

What's wrong with America
Editor, The Times:
To Mr. Chick Edwards,

Are you kidding me? You are demanding that Lt. Burke Jensen landscape his new property despite the fact he is serving in Kuwait. ["Battle at home over reservist's yard," Times, Local News, Oct. 6] Your quote, "I really don't give a [expletive] where he is or what his problem is" makes me ashamed of you as an American.

Where Lt. Jensen is happens to be is where his, and your, government sent him. Instead of understanding what this man is going through -- having to leave his pregnant wife and go to the dangerous Middle East, you are adding to his problems.

Do you really think he would rather be in Kuwait instead of at home taking care of his family and property?
You, Mr. Edwards, are what is wrong with this country right now. You are only interested in your own selfish needs and wants instead of the needs of America and its military.

Try to think of the hardships that Lt. Jensen is going through right now while you sit in your comfortable house complaining about how his lawn looks. I hope everyone who can bring pressure to you does so, as well as the military and government.

Being a retired reservist who was called to serve in Iraq in 2003, I know how hard it was to leave my two daughters and the hardship it caused. You, Mr. Edwards, are the kind of person who has me shaking my head and wondering what the [expletive] is happening to our country and it's citizens.

You are an embarrassment.
--Joseph Berlin, Ocean Shores

Soldiers aren't clowns
It was very upsetting to read the story in Monday's paper about the property owner and developer [Chick Edwards] in Kennewick.

It was difficult to believe that anyone could say that they did not give [an expletive] about where a soldier had been deployed and then to read later that he called that soldier a "clown."

I would like to know if there is any place to send money for a lawyer for this soldier and his family or to help the friends in Kennewick finish the landscaping project.

The property-management person should be ashamed of himself.
-- Nancy Kelleher, Lynwood

Misplaced wrath
I was appalled by the statements by the homeowners association president [Chick Edwards] about the reservist who was called to active duty before he got his yard landscaped.

I hope anybody who had thought about buying in that planned community reads about the president's treatment of this reservist and stays far away. This is one more reason that homeowners associations in single-family-developments should be disbanded. The only time a homeowners association should be allowed is if there is a multiple-unit building involved and there must be some separate group to take care of the structure and common areas.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that most homeowners associations do is impose one person's idea about what "looks good" and is "right and proper use" onto every one else in the area.

I hope Edwards ends up on the wrong end of another homeowners association's wrath.
-- Tom Kesterson, Seattle

Kuwait is not a vacation spot
Kennewick developer Chick Edwards manifests the worst of a homeowners association. Deplorable is his threatened lawsuit to make involuntarily mobilized reservist, Burke Jensen, landscape his new lot according to contract.

Edwards was unrelenting -- even when a company Jensen hired to do the work abandoned the job and his fellow employees at Energy Northwest mowed and cleared weeds from the property.

Also disturbing and petty is Edwards citing homeowner covenants to thwart attempts to put the house up for rent, which was Burke's solution for taking care of the property while his pregnant wife and young son live with relatives on the East Coast until the family can be reunited.

Though a neighbor said the yard does not bother him, Edwards (who is the sole member of the homeowners association until he sells enough properties in the development) says he wants the contract enforced no matter what the circumstances are. He calls Jensen a "clown" who "gets to do what he wants."

We know who the real buffoon is here -- the one who harassed a military man.

Jensen made all good-faith attempts to take care of his family and property during his deployment. The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects men and women serving their country from circumstances such as this, but unfortunately, Burke Jensen has had to hire a lawyer to enforce these rights.
-- Kathy Ward, Tacoma

Don't defend Chick
As a retired veteran, I was absolutely appalled at reading of the plight of Lt. Burke Jensen.
Shuffled off to duty in the Middle East, with a wife and son who have understandably chosen to stay with family during his absence, and he now has to deal with this garbage?

"I really don't give a [expletive]..."?

"... doesn't have the right to walk away..."?

"... gets to do what he wants..."???

And to think, Lt. Jensen puts his life on the line to defend the rights and freedoms of people like Chick Edwards.
-- Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle

Protest the creep
In these days of bad news, few stories have been more despicable than that of Chick Edwards, the developer of Oak Hill Country Estates in Kennewick.

Chick doesn't "give a [expletive]" that Lt Burke Jensen was involuntarily mobilized to fight for our country. What really has Chick riled is that Lt. Jensen did not get his lawn planted before he left.

In addition to conducting lawful, peaceful demonstrations in the subdivision, veterans should avoid buying property from this pathetic creep.
-- Steven Sewell, Burien

Kudos to the co-workers
I hope that readers take time to contact Chick Edwards about his incredibly insensitive comments regarding reservist Burke Jensen's property.

Perhaps Edwards spoke to the reporter at a particularly frustrating moment, but I would urge him to moderate his characterization of Lt. Jensen as a "clown." It's clear that Edwards is behaving like a clown, if he is more concerned about the appearance of a piece of property than about the livelihood and family of a man serving in Kuwait.

Kudos to Lt. Jensen's co-workers for trying to mitigate the situation.
-- Monica Nixon, Seattle

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October 7, 2008 4:49 PM

Indentured graduates

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

College-tuition bubble growing
The high-tech and real-estate bubbles have burst. Are we finally going to see a bursting of the college-tuition bubble? ["Young, educated, drowning in debt," page one, Oct. 5.]

As reported at, for the past 30 years, college-tuition expense has increased at twice the rate of general inflation. And, as The Times reports, the government winds up paying off the loans of 20 percent to 50 percent of students in some colleges.

So the government encourages higher tuition expenses by disguising the inability of students and families to pay. Colleges are not forced (like every other business on the planet) to control their costs and provide value for dollar charged. And students are forced to take on more and more debt to chase a secure future. Sounds like a bubble to me.

The government should get out of the student-loan business, or at least not agree to subsidize ever-increasing amounts of tuition and student debt. Then colleges would have to rein in their out-of-control spending, and students and families wouldn't have to mortgage their futures.
-- Bill Dougherty, Bothell

Student chose to go into debt
Pertaining to graduates drowning in debt, it was Tyson Hunter's choice to go to Brown University where the tuition is astronomically high. He could have done several things to not have debt.

My family was living from paycheck to paycheck, so I knew in the eighth grade that if college were to be in my future, I would have to pay for it.

In high school, I worked part-time during the school year and double-full-time during the summer (days and evenings) at anything I could get. I studied really hard and took Advanced Placement exams. As a senior, I began taking courses in a local junior college in the evening. Before I graduated, I got a partial (one-third) scholarship to a major private school, but I did not accept it because I did not want to accrue the debt of the other two-thirds.

I worked another year after high school and took more junior-college courses. I got accepted to a good state university. I sold my junk car in my freshman year to cut expenses. I worked 20 hours a week in the evenings, and I got into two internships. I graduated when I was 23, with no debt.

I worked for two years double-full-time, by day in my profession, and in the evenings as a bartender. I saved enough to go full-time to a state university for graduate school. I completed graduate school in two years, while working as a part-time bartender at night and a part-time barista in the early morning. I left graduate school with no debt, and with money to spare.

At 26, I got a great job with some cash in my pocket to buy a cheap, new mini car and a down payment for a one-bedroom condominium.
-- Jeff Tanner, Seattle

Do something, Sallie Mae
A young man being in hock until his 50s to get an "education" is, indeed, indentured servitude, thanks to Sallie Mae and educational institutions in collusion via exorbitant pricing and unlimited credit.

Does this situation sound similar to Fannie Mae? Is there going to be a credit bubble regarding student loans? Some of these loans are now on the magnitude of a home loan. That much debt to finance an education is socially irresponsible.

I am not blaming the young man for trying to better himself, but these educational institutions and the government should start looking at the bigger picture to see if this is really "an investment in the future" or if they are just lining their own pockets.

This type of lending creates a domino effect in markets that will fall out of control, leading to a government bailout. There are other things the government could do, like interest-free loans, loan caps and larger grants that would lower prices in these businesses umm I mean, educational institutions that also have lost sight of their purpose.

English writer H.G. Wells said civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let's not help catastrophe along with an overly expensive educational system and excessive lending (at a profit) to finance it.
-- Anthony Badon, Seattle

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October 7, 2008 4:45 PM

Presidential politics

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Women don't want your puppet
I may not own a pit bull or many tubes of lipstick, but I am a soccer mom who has had years of experience in my community. I have earned my stripes as a women's activist by attending hours of meetings, marching and making many phone calls for 40-plus years. I have counseled and assisted women in getting abortions before and after Roe vs Wade. I have researched and worked for Native American women's right to quality health care and I have lobbied for equal pay.

I should be pleased to see a woman running (for the second time) as the vice-presidential candidate, but I am not.


Because the only option afforded me is Gov. Sarah Palin. She is not capable or qualified to lead on the issues that directly affect women's lives: maintaining a woman's right to control her own health care, improving employment and education opportunities or lobbying for equal pay.

I see this nomination as a slap in the face to all those women from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Hillary Rodham Clinton who have given their time to promote women's rights.

Sarah Palin thinks she doesn't need to answer basic questions when interviewed. She should be proud enough to say she won't cooperate with a preapproved agenda. She wants to continue circumventing the constitution by maintaining Vice President Dick Cheney's trajectory of the VP position as a fourth branch of government and she continues to ignore the facts, all the while delivering glib comments with charisma and smiling zingers directly into the camera.

We need much more than a quick study and hockey mom to restore our moral and political image on the world stage. Is the Republican Party afraid of having an intellectual woman who might speak her mind?

McCain needed and got himself a media darling to counter the so-called "star power" of Obama. Palin is supposed to appease women, thereby deflecting any real debate. Women have been handed a puppet and not a real leader.
-- Kris Melroe, Seattle

What about the Keating Five?
Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin are trying to draw links between Sen. Barack Obama and former radical William Ayers, a man he does not appear to have been close to, nor whose views and actions has he ever expressed sympathy for ["Trailing Obama, McCain hopes to gain in debate," news, Oct. 7].

Since we're looking into the candidates' pasts for associates of influence, perhaps a more relevant example would be McCain's friendship with Charles Keating Jr. Keating stole billions from Lincoln Savings and Loan Association in the 1980s and helped precipitate the savings and loan crisis that has been much referenced recently.

What needs to be remembered is that McCain received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from Keating and interfered with regulators on Keating's behalf, delaying the closing down of Lincoln Savings for two years and exacerbating the final cost to the tax payers by billions.

For his role as one of the Keating Five, McCain was reprimanded by the Senate ethics committee "for exercising poor judgment in intervening with regulators."

Given the current economic crisis and McCain's long history of deregulation, this is an association that really needs to be examined.
-- Richard Yonck, Seattle

Secrets don't make friends
Why did Sen. Barack Obama claim multiple times that he had no real relation with Bill Ayers when the two have served together on boards?

Ayers launched Obama's political career. This isn't normally done by someone who is just your neighbor.
Why is the Obama/Biden campaign hiding who their small donors are?

Over half of Obama's campaign donations are from people giving under $200.

They aren't required by law to disclose who gave the money, but every other campaign has revealed who they were getting money from. Why the secrecy? Will we find out years from now that many of these donations were fraudulent?
-- Janet Suppes, Bellevue

We don't want a prom queen
I read the story "So, how'd she do? Depends on the party" by Bob Young [news, Oct. 3] with interest.
As a teenage female voter, I was shocked that women are reacting positively to Gov. Sarah Palin.
In this story, one woman said, "You go girl!" and another commented, "You got the feeling she was an open person you could talk to."

What about substance and responsible leadership? American women need to realize that a woman who frequently winks into the camera, flirts with viewers and uses her looks to make up for lack of knowledge and experience, is lowering women to sexy, spunky prom queens.

Instead of a plan for reducing the taxes of Middle America, for alternative energy and protecting America from terrorists, Palin drew on dumb tactics.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton of the 19th-century Women's Rights Movement would be repulsed by Palin's version of women's progress. Let's wait for a woman who can be knowledgeable and truly capable of political leadership.

Think carefully before electing a prom queen!
--Janie Bube, Seattle

Divided we fail
Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have decided to try and win this election by further dividing an already deeply divided country.

Sen. Barack Obama has run his campaign on the idea of finding common ground.

The parties don't agree on abortion, but let's bring down the rate of unwanted pregnancies. People in gang-ridden parts of the country have different views on guns than people in rural communities, but let's at least agree to keep AK-47s out of the hands of gang members. He knows America is deeply divided and that a leader must be willing to bring people together.

If we have a president who is too far to the right, or too far to the left, half the country is always going to be outraged, and that doesn't solve a thing. Maybe Obama has a "liberal record" but that, as he pointed out at the first debate, comes from having to react to the extreme policies of President Bush. I truly believe he stands somewhere more in the middle.

McCain and Palin are using people's fear of the unknown (fueled by rampant Internet rumors) to divide us: "Don't trust this man who wants to teach your 5-year-olds about sex and will stop at nothing to tarnish the lily-white reputation of this hockey mom you can all relate to. Also, he's probably a terrorist; just look at his middle name!" It comes down to fear, but it also comes down to trust.

I trust Obama to continue to try and find the common ground and common good we need to bring this country together. I fear that if McCain is elected, the polarizing attacks he used during the campaign will continue and divide this country beyond repair.

Divided we fail.
-- Mairin Reed, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

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October 7, 2008 4:44 PM

520 bridge

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Do it right
Regarding Monday's editorial on the case for an eight-lane Highway 520 bridge ["The new 520 bridge: a case for 8 lanes," editorial, Oct. 6], I question the source of your expert opinion.

Engineers say that an eight-lane alternative will not improve congestion because traffic will clog up once Highway 520 reaches Interstate 5. You offer Eastside road planner James MacIsaac's "solution": two lanes of traffic could be peeled off at Montlake. But anyone who has tried to exit westbound Highway 520 at Montlake during afternoon rush hour knows that the line can snake back to the middle of the bridge because of slow traffic on Montlake.

In the same section of your paper is a story about inflated cost estimates put forward by foes of the light-rail ballot initiative. It turns out that the person providing these exaggerated numbers is none other than the same James MacIsaac. It seems that MacIsaac is not a reliable source of objective information.

Perhaps your editorial would have been more credible had you consulted an actual transportation engineer, or at least someone who does not appear to have a strongly pro-roads, anti-transit agenda.

Certainly, strategic highway improvements, such as lengthening merges by adding collector-distributor lanes, can really improve congestion by making it easier and safer for traffic to maintain constant speeds as vehicles enter and exit the freeway. But just throwing extra lanes on Highway 520 doesn't seem right.
-- Jamie Strausz-Clark, Seattle

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October 7, 2008 4:06 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Say goodbye to civil liberties

No pun intended, but the progressives have it dead wrong when it comes to Initiative 1000 ["Death with dignity: Approve I-1000," Times, editorial, Oct. 5].

Much like the Oregon law, which has been on the books for 10 years, the Washington law would, in effect, enable the insurance companies to wipe out civil liberties.

I have a disabled son. I don't want someone telling me that caring for him has become too costly, but that they will gladly pay for the pill to end his life "compassionately." This is a civil-rights issue. This is a disability-rights issue.

This is not a slippery slope. This is a blind leap over a precipice of no return.

Get informed, be shocked. Then get angry and vote "no" on I-1000.
-- Mary Lund, Bothell

Suicide is unacceptable
The Times concludes that, "On the grounds of compassion for the suffering, and recognition of the individual as a moral agent," we should vote for I-1000. Vote against I-1000 for the same reasons.

Compassion means suffering (passion) with (com) another and seeing the person through to the end -- not hastening it. This is much more difficult than turning away while the person injects himself or herself and commits suicide.

Yes, the individual is a moral agent. Choices one makes have moral implications -- for everyone. To legalize physician-assisted suicide, even for a few, is to begin to reshape it as a morally acceptable option for the many. The attempt to draw parameters around "acceptable" suicide is arbitrary and, thus, subject to change.

Why is physical suffering given greater weight than emotional suffering? Why is suicide only OK for someone who might die in six months? Why is suicide a tragedy when it falls outside these narrowly defined parameters but compassionate when inside them? Legalizing physician-assisted suicide opens it for discussion and implies its legitimacy.

Eventually, the discussion will be about broadening those arbitrary, narrow, "safe" parameters.
-- Brian Cummings, Port Orchard

Sheen's ad makes false claims
I much appreciate the effort The Times is expending to examine the claims made by candidates and groups supporting and opposing ballot issues in this election season.

My request is that you look at the claims being made by the two sides of the I-1000 (death with dignity) issue -- in particular, the radio and TV ads by actor Martin Sheen.

I loved Sheen in "The West Wing." He is not, however, well-cast in the role of death-with-dignity opponent. Sheen claims that "the 9,000 doctors" of the Washington State Medical Association oppose I-1000. In fact, that decision was made by the WSMA House of Delegates and executive board. Rank-and-file members of the WSMA were never allowed to vote on it.

Many physicians support the initiative. A quick check of the records in Olympia will reveal that more money from doctors has been donated to groups favoring I-1000 than those opposed to it.

Additionally, Sheen would have us believe that patients could opt for a lethal dose of medication even if they were suffering only from depression. This is not true. At least two doctors must certify that a patient is making an informed decision and is mentally competent.

One thing I can agree with the actor on is that patients should be treated with compassion. And what could be more compassionate than allowing someone to make an exit on their own terms, before physical conditions render the individual unrecognizable to his family?

Sheen should keep up the good work [acting], where his dialogue more often has the ring of truth.
-- Chris Fruitrich, West Seattle

Safeguards flawed in I-1000
I have strong opinions against the proposed Death with Dignity Act, I-1000. The safeguards are flawed.
The two objective witnesses can hardly be called objective if one witness may also be an heir, a beneficiary of the terminally-ill patient's estate. I-1000 leaves room for great anguish of the dying, as well as distrust and possible calamity within families in the moral and legal arenas.

Is anyone talking to the survivors of patients who chose to die under Oregon's Assisted Suicide law? Surely there must be trauma. Are there support groups to help counsel the families in this decision prior and following? Have there been lawsuits filed because of wrongdoing? Has there been any follow-up?

There must be safeguards in place and support for the dying, as well as for those who survive the death of a loved one before even considering I-1000.
-- Mary Cockerham, Lakewood

Thoughtful support
Thank you for your thoughtful, carefully considered support of I-1000.

The Times appropriately emphasizes the fundamental right of the individual to choose with dignity at the close of the life.
-- John Edwards, Seattle

I-1000 doesn't guarantee choice to die
I am against I-1000, due to the lack of safeguards.

The Times acknowledges that I-1000 requires "no witnesses" at the time of death. Without required witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir or stressed-out caregiver to administer the lethal dose to Dad without his consent. Even if he struggled violently, who would know? With no required witnesses, I-1000 creates the perfect alibi.

Family members, of course, do this kind of thing all the time. The Times ran "Des Moines murder for hire brings 25-year prison terms" [Local News, Oct. 4], about a mother and son who hired a hit man to off her husband. Why should we pass a statute that rewards this type of behavior with a "get out of jail free card"?

Sadly, people commit suicide now. Let's help ensure that it's their choice.
-- Margaret Dore, Seattle

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October 7, 2008 4:00 PM

Governor's race

Posted by Ken Rosenthal

Rossi is another West
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi certainly shares a lot of the same dangerous economic ideas with his Republican ally George Bush. They both favor deregulation, cutting education and health programs to pay for tax cuts for big corporations.

These strategies won't work in Washington state

But Rossi reminds me of another politician from our state Senate: the late Jim West. They were both conservative state senators, leaders in the state Republican Party, and chairmen of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Both West and Rossi took great pride in their shameless cuts in health services for poor children and their tax breaks for corporate campaign donors. They also ran the most offensive and dishonest campaigns anywhere in this state.

West once tried to run for state office, but, like Rossi, he was defeated. It's time for the citizens to stand up and vote against Rossi one more time. We have seen the damage Bush did as president and West did as mayor of Spokane; we don't need to see the damage Rossi can do as governor.
-- Christopher Katke, Spokane

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