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Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor

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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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

"Everything But Marriage" bill

Posted by Letters editor

Courtney Blethen / The Seattle Times

Impact/Equal Rights Washington and others rallied and marched against Washington state's ban on gay marriage earlier this month. The protesters made their way from Seattle Central Community College down Pine Street to Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, where they gathered signatures for a letter to President Obama.

Providing security, second-class security

Editor, The Times:

Today I was pleased to celebrate the future rights of gays and lesbians in Washington state through the "Everything But Marriage" bill ["Domestic-partnership bill would expand protections," Times, Local News, Jan. 28]. While the passage of this bill will help Washington's lesbian and gay communities find much-needed security in these uncertain times, I am saddened by the second-class-citizen status domestic partnerships provide.

It is time for Washingtonians to give their hardworking neighbors, friends, co-workers and family the same dignity and respect of different-sex couples by granting full marriage equality. We need this legal protection now more than ever.

The Washington I know and love has a welcoming heart and an open mind. I believe with your help my family will finally be treated as full and equal citizens.

Please help us reach our goal of full-marriage equality by volunteering, donating money or simply engaging in positive conversations about the issues with your friends and family as we move toward full equality. The gay and lesbian communities will be forever grateful for your help and friendship.

-- Joseph Mirabella, Seattle

A perverse agenda

While I do not oppose domestic partnerships in theory, I do find the ongoing march to same-sex marriage not only repulsive, but also a naked usurpation of the rights of Washington state voters.

If the supporters of homosexual marriage are so strident in their convictions, let them place it on the ballot and obtain the approval from the state electorate.

The fact of the matter is that not a single state in the union has legalized homosexual marriage by election.

Rather, unelected state supreme court judges have taken it upon themselves to advance their own perverse agenda and vision of marriage upon their states' citizens.

-- Brian Travis, Lynnwood

Passive oppression

I've always thought of myself as a fair, open-minded person. I assumed domestic partnerships offered same-sex couples the same domestic, legal and insurance rights as heterosexual couples. Boy, was I wrong.

As important as the progress in domestic partnerships has been, it doesn't provide the same security as marriage; domestic partnerships are used as a way to treat people as second-class citizens.

My ignorance was a kind of passive oppression of my friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Each of us deserves to be treated fairly and have the same chance to realize our hopes and dreams.

Why should I have a different set of rights when we all contribute equally to our communities, jobs and families?

-- Deborah Skorstad, Seattle

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

Wolves in Washington

Posted by Letters editor

A politically convenient compromise

Wolves are returning to Washington! This is one the most exciting things I have heard in my half century as a biologist and wildlife advocate. What worries me, though, is whether we will welcome their return or whether some will do everything possible to discourage their survival.

Biologists have learned a great deal about the recovery of endangered species. We need to build a long-term, sustainable population. This means having enough wolves to avoid inbreeding and enough wolves for the population to recover after disease epidemics or other catastrophes.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is considering a plan that would remove wolves from the state endangered species list when there are only 15 breeding pairs in the state. At that point, additional wolves could be killed to protect livestock or perhaps even hunted as big-game animals.

Fifteen wolf-breeding pairs translates to about 150 wolves. Biologists have determined minimum, genetically viable populations are closer to 500 animals. Fifteen breeding pairs is just a politically convenient compromise with those who would prefer no wolves at all.

If they accept this plan, our state wildlife agency will come up way short of what is really needed to help wolves survive.

Yes, it is very complex and the actual number varies from species to species and place to place. But, we must take into account this scientific information or we will never recover the wolf population in Washington state.

WDFW should convene a blue-ribbon panel to recommend a truly scientifically based conservation goal for wolves in the state.

-- John Edwards, Seattle

Boosting the ecosystem and the economy

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) was pleased to learn of the strong public support for returning wolves to Olympic National Park [ "Can wolves restore an ecosystem?" page one, Jan. 25]. Wolves are an important part of restoring the park's ecosystem and could benefit the local economy.

Since the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, tourists visiting the park, hoping to see a wolf, spend $35 million each year. An entire cottage industry based on leading wolf tours has been created in the communities near Yellowstone.

NPCA and the tens of thousands we represent in Washington hope the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will listen to the growing numbers that overwhelmingly support wolf recovery.

-- David Graves, Seattle

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

The Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

About voters, not the man in charge

Lynne Varner wrote about President Obama's election and inauguration as a triumph for minorities, especially African Americans, and the much-deserved credit they merit for that epochal change in America ["In the footsteps of many," editorial column, Jan. 28]. But we often lose track of what this election has actually changed in America.

African Americans have long been qualified to lead this nation. Eloquent black orators have been around since at least Frederick Douglass. Minorities have supported such leaders ever since they could vote. These conditions haven't changed.

White Americans have.

The concept of Frederick Douglass as vice president was impossible given the racial attitudes of the time. Presidential campaigns as recent as Jesse Jackson's failed because of how many white voters would simply not vote for a nonwhite candidate.

In the past, when white voters had the chance, in the secrecy of the voting booth, to support full equality, they turned it down and caused both political parties to nominate only white candidates. Every time. For 220 years.

In 2008, sufficient numbers of white voters chose to do the right thing so we, the people, could elect the right person. That is the change, long overdue, that vindicates everything we have fought for all these years.

-- Jon Shaughnessy, Bellingham

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

National stimulus package

Posted by Letters editor

Looking beyond the surface

It's all over the headlines: stimulus packages. But, what is so "stimulating" about these plans? They might move money around a little bit but, in reality, they will do more harm than help.

The government has announced this $800 billion-plus plan to pull the economy out of its current recession. Economics 101 teaches a very important question that many Americans have failed to ask: Where is the government finding $800 billion?

The short answer: us. All the Federal Reserve Board is doing is taking money from taxpayers, which could be spent in a much more productive way by those earning the money, and redistributing it to serve their own agendas.

Granted, the public also shares some of these agendas, but to a small degree. What right does the government have to spend another person's money wisely? Besides reputation, none.

By supporting the stimulus package, you must believe that the government makes wiser choices about how to spend your money than you do. Do you really believe this?

If not, I encourage you to look not only at the surface amount of these stimulus plans, but deeper into the issue to realize the potential cost to you, your family, your job and your country.

-- Shannon McCleary, Edmonds

Rejecting the fig leaf

Congressional Republicans are amazing creatures, truly remarkable. They control the House for 12 years, doing things their way with almost zero minority input, and the country ends up in a massive financial crisis. Their policy of more tax cuts in any and all circumstances, while always logically unfounded, has now solidly been proven a massive failure.

Now we have a Democratic president who has made a large point of reaching out to Republicans in the minority. We know the Republican way doesn't work, so you might think Republicans would welcome a fig leaf extended toward them in the form of concessions -- concessions they didn't extend when they were in power. Well, you would be wrong.

They have voted against the stimulus package on a party-line vote. Why? Because there are not enough tax cuts. The very same tax cuts that have hurt the overall economy and only served to make the rich richer.

The unapologetic way Republicans are behaving in the face of public sentiment and the reality of the failure of their policies is simply astounding. They claim we need swift action, but are willing to delay action simply because they aren't getting more of what they know won't work.

-- Michael Blake, Seattle

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

Alcohol sales to balance the budget

Posted by Letters editor

Expect more violence and crime

The state of Washington has found its financial solution with alcohol. The state plans to open 10 more stores due to a 6 percent increase in sales last year.

Drink up Washington! It is now your civic duty. This all looks good on paper until the morning-after hangover. Expect more DUIs, domestic violence, property damage and crime. We are going to have to ride it out because they have cut funds to detox, treatment and drug courts.

Drug courts cost the state roughly $3,000 per conviction each year with less of a chance of repeat offense, compared with $20,000 to house them in prison with no treatment and a good chance to offend again.

But, we are going to hire some more prison guards. While we are at it why don't we just lower the drinking age to expand our alcohol-consumer base?

-- Jim Marshall, Bremerton

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

Seattle school closures

Posted by Letters editor

An unnecessary obstacle

Gayle Johnson's good information about the successes of Seattle's African American Academy ["Don't close African American Academy," guest column, Jan. 28] makes one wonder why Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson wants to close it, and what impact the closure will have on the academy's students.

Working with teenage dropouts and young adults with criminal histories, I learned how a lack of stability affected their lives. School is often the only constant in the lives of young people who have experienced such destabilizing factors as poverty, family conflicts and frequent changes of living situation.

Take away their school and they suffer.

If you close a school, you shake up the lives of the students and put an unnecessary obstacle in their path. At the African American Academy, the students -- they are called "scholars" -- are treated with respect. They learn to treat others with respect. They experience success in the classroom.

Take away the classroom, a familiar environment, and you invite failure into their vulnerable lives.

African Americans in Seattle schools already have a very high dropout rate: more than 50 percent. These dropouts are a significant part of the school district's financial problem because every student who drops out reduces state financial support.

The African American Academy should be retained and expanded to include high-school grades so the scholars can continue to benefit from the academy's rigorous and nurturing curriculum.

-- Charles Davis, Seattle

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

Newspaper ownership

Posted by Letters editor

Slipping on icy jingoism

Your editorial ["Newspaper ownership matters in a democracy," The Democracy Papers, Jan. 27] declared, "The $250 million loan by billionaire Carlos Slim to The New York Times Co. is said to be innocent of any motive of influencing U.S. news and opinion." I imagine you are referring to the ideal of impartial journalism. And yet, many journalists have crossed the line into the entertainment domain (colorful Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews come to mind).

Are these wealthy journalists considered to be capitalists with loyalties to a political party, similar to the criticism you hurl at Carlos Slim? When Rupert Murdoch (reportedly holding assets worth some $8 billion) bought the New York Post, Fox News and many more, did you raise similar alarm?

Careful, you could be slipping on icy jingoism.

Your editorial concludes, "The New York Times is not just a company, but an institution." This could be true, but the U.S. Treasury has not refused foreign investments from China, Japan, the U.K., Brazil, oil exporters or even Russia. When the U.S. Treasury accepts investments from other nations and wealthy individuals, why shouldn't The New York Times do the same?

Our beloved Constitution sets forth the law of the land, but does not establish any "news institution." Come to think of it, the Constitution does not establish any "capitalist company" either.

With the recent announcement about The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, your sentimentality for newspapers is understandable. But does the ownership of The New York Times rise to the level of national pride?

We do live in a global economy these days. This global economy is not established in the Constitution either.

-- Richard Morris, Redmond

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January 31, 2009 9:00 AM

Globalist Quiz

Posted by Letters editor

The reason behind the number

A recent "Globalist Quiz" ["Quiz CO2 emissions: the magic number," News, Jan. 26] correctly indicated that the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is about 385 parts per million, but it failed to completely explain how and why it increased to that concentration.

Study of the Vostok and Taylor Dome Ice Cores from Antarctica shows that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was only 180 to 200 parts per million about 18,000 years ago near the end of the last glaciation. It began increasing as global temperatures rose during and long after the transition from cold glacial conditions to warmer interglacial conditions about 11,000 years ago.

These atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are known to have lagged behind the global temperature increases by several hundred years. They are also known to have been created by increases in the flux rate of carbon dioxide from marine and terrestrial ecosystems up into the atmosphere, as the global temperatures increased.

This "Globalist Quiz" has failed to identify how natural increases in global temperatures have been responsible for significant atmospheric carbon dioxide increases over the last 11,000 years.

-- Ken Schlichte, Tumwater

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Washington State Ferries

Posted by Letters editor

Jim Bates / The Seattle Times

The Spokane pulls into the Edmonds ferry dock.

Fix the four, don't sell them

Editor, The Times:

I don't remember this being proposed before ["Deal to sell ferries on hold," Times, Local News, Jan. 28]. Each of the three steel-electric Illahee Class boats were rebuilt, including the deck cabins, in 1987 for $2.7 million and are now possibly being sold or scrapped.

The Klickitat apparently has cracks in the hull from a very rough route, but if the other three were faulty after the new plates were added, surely our quality Todd Shipyard could replace the hulls less expensively than purchasing new boats.

The Illahee Class boats are medium size of proven design and quality. The original subchaser engines have been replaced with reliable Finnish Warsellas engines. It makes more sense to replace the hulls than to replace entire boats.

-- Bob Engstrom, Bainbridge

Less is not more

I can't let the guest commentary by state Rep. Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island ["Finding smoother waters for Washington ferries," Jan. 26] pass without comment. Her piece begins by saying, "If there is one enduring symbol of our state's natural beauty, it is surely Puget Sound. …" It then goes on to talk about the ferry system.

I would add that if there is one enduring symbol of the ineptness and malaise of our state government, it is Clibborn's column. Seldom have so many words been used to say so little other than get prepared for a disappointing result from our state government.

According to Clibborn, the House of Representatives Transportation Committee has "scrutinized," "hired consultants," "considered," "solicited," "listened," "worked closely," "monitored," "consulted on" and "develop[ed] a long-term, sustainable plan for the ferry system." For the next 22 years, the plan is no change from today or less than today.

Yet, the committee's goal is to "adequately serve its riders and communities." It remains to be seen what they describe as "adequate," but based on today's standards, the bar will be set quite low.

Are we paying their salaries and paying for their consultants to maintain the status quo, or less? I think our expectations should be higher.

The ferry system is not only an icon of our region; it is the lifeline of many of our communities. It controls the rate of growth and prosperity of an important portion of our state. Restrict it and people and commerce are less willing to move. Open it up and, not only do people move, but so do energy, creativity and jobs.

For those of us who have been in the transportation business, having a monopoly and passengers lined up for hours is a problem we would love to be able to solve. It's what we live for. If we couldn't solve it, the government would be all over our backs. But for a government-run system, it is an inconvenience to be shouldered by the passengers.

Nowhere in Clibborn's comments was there any mention of tackling the problems brought by the elimination of the motor-vehicle tax or some of the much-touted, embedded high costs of ferry operation. We don't need people who cave in to these situations and suggest that less is better. We need problem solvers and leaders.

I guarantee that if Mercer Island were still served by ferries alone, Clibborn would be paddling her canoe to Seattle as fast as she could to escape from her neighbors.

-- Bill Clapp, Seattle

Put aside decades-old neglect

As a Seattle commuter from Kitsap County, I appreciate the attention you are giving to the ferry system's current budget struggle and wish to comment on Judy Clibborn's Jan. 26 commentary.

Clibborn said "voters eliminated the motor vehicle excise tax in 1999, devastating WSF's (Washington State Ferries) finances, and that critical revenue source has never been replaced." While Initiative 695 was passed by voters, it was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. The state Legislature voluntarily passed it into law, missing the opportunity to make hard decisions about balanced transportation budgets. It is time to stop blaming I-695.

I believe the most important action, resulting from the recently-released, long-range plan, should be to consider this a "wake-up call" to put aside decades-old neglect toward the ferry system by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and fund it just as you do other vital state highways.

The state constitution provides five definitions of "state highways," the fifth being "operations of ferries, which are part of any public highway, county road or city street." Just as the Legislature must fund bridges and roads, they must adequately fund the ferry system.

Clibborn said that the "study makes clear that the system is unsustainable, and in order to balance the budget -- which we must do -- we have to make some unfortunate service cuts, find new revenue or do some of both." In response to this statement, I urge that we also consider the sustainability of the environment and the role ferries play in lowering air pollution by reducing vehicle-trip miles.

As a resident of a ferry community, I would be willing to pay higher taxes to subsidize ferry service, but would hope that if this were to be implemented, out-of-state-residents' vehicles be charged a higher rate to travel on the ferries.

Please don't expect a greater level of sacrifice from ferry communities than you would from other areas of the state. The ferries must be funded by the state, and not passed off to counties as unfunded mandates.

Clibborn says the Legislature "will use the long-range plan, a separate revenue study and community input as we develop a balanced ferries budget." I strongly encourage we consider the long-range plan only as a summary of the challenges to be addressed and not as a document presenting viable solutions. Neither Plan A nor Plan B are realistic. It's time to consider bridges from the Kitsap Peninsula to east Puget Sound -- they've proven effective in Clibborn's own district (Mercer Island) and could work well on this side of the Sound.

Please do away with the "Buy Washington" laws that result in the ferry system paying much more than necessary for new ferries. This might enable the ferry system to qualify for millions of dollars in federal aid like Sound Transit receives.

Clibborn says the Legislature's goal "will be to fund a ferry system that is sustainable into the future, that adequately serves its riders and communities, and that is safe, reliable and efficient." I couldn't agree more.

-- Cathy Ridley, Kingston

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle school closures

Posted by Letters editor

Solve the budget problem now or be forced to cope later

It is a proven fact that children thrive in small-school settings when they are given personal attention and can form bonds with their teachers. However, nobody benefits from a lack of funding in an entire school district.

A community uproar, like the current Seattle schools commotion, kept the Northshore School Board from closing Woodin Elementary last year. Since this decision, the rest of the Northshore schools have had to compensate for the lack of funding that was supposed to be avoided by closing Woodin.

As an Inglemoor High School student, I have seen price increases in our sports fees and parking permits; we now have fewer transportation options for special-program students and have been forced to cope with fewer campus supervisors and school nurses.

Seattle schools face a massive $24 million budget shortfall next year. Closing the five schools and programs in question will save the district from only two-thirds of the budget problem. In other words, it will only mostly solve the problem.

To the people who are doing their best to keep these schools open, find out how this budget problem will be solved if you get what you want. Someone has to make up for the lack of funding.

-- Samantha Valtierra Bush, Kenmore

Under-enrollment is no accident

While it would be difficult to find any members of the Seattle community content with the impending school closures facing our city, I view the situation with a bit less negativity than the hundreds of protesters who marched and picketed this past weekend ["Rally against school closures," Local News, Jan. 26]. I am not happy to see the schools go, but I consider such acts necessary to the evolution of our school district and the future of our children.

Seattle is different from most public-school systems, wherein students are assigned a school and their only alternatives are private school or home school. As I am sure readers are aware, Seattle has an open-enrollment policy, allowing parents and students the option to enroll in any school in the district. This creates a model where schools "compete" for students by offering differentiated bundles of services such as course offerings, educators, athletic programs, extracurricular options and any other qualities that make one school different from another.

The upcoming closures are the result of under-enrollment, which occurs when families take students out of the schools at hand such that the district can no longer financially justify keeping them open.

Perhaps more students are enrolling in private school. Perhaps some are enrolling at Seattle Public Schools elsewhere in the city that better meet their preferences. Or perhaps the size of the school-age population in Seattle is decreasing. Regardless of the underlying causes of such enrollment shifts, they are the result of a group of families acting voluntarily, according to their own preferences. This is not so different from a group of families no longer choosing to patronize a certain store or business. If enough families make the same choice, the business fails and ceases to exist. New, vibrant, and innovative businesses spring up to take its place.

While I certainly agree that the government should delegate more money to schools, I cannot agree with those who believe that the district should keep open those schools that the people of Seattle have chosen to leave behind.

-- Samuel Francis Fisher, Seattle

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

State budget

Posted by Letters editor

Using beer to boost the budget

Perhaps I was not surprised that a survey appeared on a local TV station asking people whether they thought the state of Washington should build more stores and expand their liquor business to sell beer. The rationale stated was to bring in more revenue to the state, presumably to mitigate against the some $2 billion deficit it faces. How clever!

Washington state already has a monopoly on the sale of hard liquor, a privilege most states do not enjoy. As I see it, Washington state could use this "foot in the door" to further expand its growing empire, increase government jobs and bring more power to the state government.

It is ironic that a state that champions the name of our first president, George Washington, would overlook one of his most succinct quotations: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

-- John Mizenko, Issaquah

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

National politics

Posted by Letters editor

New attitude demands new military policy

President Obama is in the White House and the possibility of real change is gripping America. From coast to coast and throughout the patchwork quilt of diversity, all across our country, people are hopeful and optimistic.

This is true for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as well. Last week, Seattle Times editorial page Editor James Vesely wrote advocating the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for the U.S. Military ["Straights and gays, all in formation," column, Jan. 18]. On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, I would like to commend Vesely and The Times for this action.

This policy is the only law in the country that asks people to be dishonest about their personal lives or risk being fired or prosecuted. It is responsible for the dismissal of 800 badly needed specialists such as Arabic translators, thus hindering our military.

Since its inception 15 years ago, support for open service from the American public has grown 31 points and now stands at 75 percent [Washington Post/ABC, July 2008]. But, even more remarkable is that 73 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan say they are comfortable in the presence of gays [Zogby, Dec. 2006]. And support for open service among all veterans stands at 50 percent.

It's a new day in America with a new attitude from Americans. The time is now to repeal this antiquated and failed military policy.

-- Steve Gibbs, co-chair of the Seattle HRC Steering Committee, Seattle

To be black is to be "American"

Maybe it's because I am a "young American" at 25, but I found the front-page, reprinted article from the Chicago Tribune, "Cool to some, but strange to others," completely ridiculous [Jan. 27].

First, this is not news.

Second, the article portrays "black culture" as some kind of wacky, foreign and exotic stepchild to "traditional" American culture. That there is a news story on this subject at all, intimates that black culture is not American culture.

Pundits and journalists need to get over the fact that we weren't all dropped out of the same mold in this country and get on with reporting real news.

-- Marina Hench, Seattle

Bitter irony behind bearing arms

Will the U.S. gun craze, our romance with firearms, ever end ["Gunman in Portland shooting spree dies," Local News, Jan. 28]?

How many more of our young people will we sacrifice in the name of a misdirected policy, the right to bear arms?"

We Rotarians host outstanding foreign students in a program of peace and international understanding. So much for peace! They are shot down on the sidewalks of Portland. What bitter irony that American parents fret about their children's safety while abroad. The real dangers are right here under our American noses.

The details of these murders -- random shooting of unknown victims in a relatively peaceful American city -- highlight the insanity of our gun policies. Handguns exist only to shoot people; disturbed people will use them if they are readily at hand.

When will Americans be hurt and incensed enough to demand a change?

-- Robert Hauck, Shoreline

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Puppy mills

Posted by Letters editor

Hidden horrors of animal cruelty

My name is Theresa Edwards and I am 13 years old. I would like to thank The Seattle Times for publishing Saturday's article ["600 rescued dogs -- and 80% are pregnant," page one, Jan. 24] about the puppy mills discovered in Snohomish and Skagit counties.

I am pleased with the newspaper's efforts to deliver such important stories that expose the hidden horrors of animal cruelty in our state and inform the public about how we can help. I believe articles like this give the dogs enslaved in puppy mills a voice and help them greatly by simply spreading the word.

This article particularly sparked my interest because of my personal involvement with the issue. My classmate, Audrey Long, and I have written to our legislators about the problem of puppy mills in our state. We testified last year in Olympia in support of Senate Bill 6408, a lemon law that would protect consumers who unknowingly purchased sick animals. Though it unfortunately didn't pass, we will soon attend a meeting regarding a possible bill in the 2009 legislative session.

Thank you very much for running the article about puppy mills. I appreciate your consideration of this matter and look forward to The Seattle Times' further coverage of this worthwhile cause.

-- Theresa Edwards, Seattle

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Fisherman's Terminal

Posted by Letters editor

Strangling a historical cornerstone

I've been a resident of Ballard for only seven years, which isn't long if you consider the history of the neighborhood, specifically with regard to Fishermen's Terminal.

One thing I have never understood is the Port of Seattle's not-so-subtle hostility toward the fishermen who have given the terminal its name and who continue to be an integral part of the Ballard and Seattle communities, both culturally and economically.

The latest scheme to effectively evict fishermen from the terminal is just another act in a 50-year string of economic piracy, which has clearly shown the Port to be toadies of the high-priced, luxury-boating and real-estate industries. It's one of many short-term schemes that make a lot of money quickly for a tiny handful at the expense of the public good and the livelihoods of a great many hardworking people.

The Port has repeatedly and consistently broken promises, violated public agreements with the fishermen and willfully engaged in a concerted campaign to strangle this historical cornerstone of the Seattle economy. It increased its pressure in hopes that the fishermen will break and resistance to their policy of de-facto gentrification will go belly-up.

At a time when increasing suspicion is directed toward foreign health standards governing imported food products, fuel prices that are on the rise again and a global economy increasingly in shambles, it seems just plain shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupid to kick out a local source of food and jobs, especially considering the Port's motto, "Where a sustainable world is headed."

It's clear to me that the Port continues to willfully engage in more of the same theft-economics in order to enrich a few developers and investors with public handouts and backroom deals.

It's long since time that the Port commissioners do what their constituents pay them for and elected them for, instead of dancing to the tune of private capital and trying to convince us with shady, circular logic that it's somehow good for the community to degrade ourselves to a plutocracy.

-- Seth Goodkind, Seattle

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January 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Senate Bill 5230

Posted by Letters editor

Giving physical therapists and patients a plan B

The Times recently reported on the Olympia rally attended by 625 physical therapists in support of Senate Bill 5230, seeking to lift the prohibition of spinal manipulation by physical therapists in Washington state ["Physical therapists, chiropractors square off over bill," Politics Northwest, Jan. 22].

I am a physical therapist affected by this issue. Physical therapy (PT) education programs nationwide are all required to teach spinal manipulation in order to be accredited. It is the accepted standard of evidence-based care for acute-spinal pain.

In Washington state, two of the three PT programs are state-funded with taxpayer dollars. Students graduate as Ph.D. PTs who cannot use this procedure in Washington state. They can move to 48 other states in the U.S. and perform spinal manipulation, and, when they do, they take the taxpayer investment with them.

SB 5230 will require all PTs to prove to the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) they have the necessary training to use this technique.

Passage of this bill allows a group of medical professionals to do what they have been trained to do based on evaluation of musculoskeletal dysfunction as part of their overall treatment plan, and allows the patient to choose the practitioner that fits his or her needs and philosophy of care.

-- Brenda Matter, Seattle

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

National stimulus package

Posted by Letters editor

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Obama walks to a podium to make a statement to the news media after meeting with Republicans in the House of Representatives Tuesday. Obama was on Capitol Hill working to gain support from Republicans for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, the $825 billion economic-recovery package proposed by House Democrats.

A waste of borrowed money

Editor, The Times:

The huge stimulus bill is packed with items that appear to have no stimulus properties at all, except to help politicians get re-elected.

Here are just a few of many, many pork-barrel projects:

-- $44 million for construction, repair and improvements at U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities;

-- $209 million for work on deferred maintenance at Agricultural Research Service facilities;

-- $245 million for maintaining and modernizing the IT system of the Farm Service Agency;

-- $50 million for "watershed rehabilitation";

-- $2.7 billion for rural-water and waste-disposal direct loans;

-- $1 billion for "periodic censuses and programs";

-- $650 million for digital-to-analog converter box program;

-- $624 million for Navy operation and maintenance; and

-- $79 billion in education funds for states.

I could have made three to four pages of items similar to these. I am personally against the bill because I don't believe in large government. But how can anyone see this as a stimulus? It is a waste of money -- borrowed money.

I have asked our senators to explain each line item. Let's see if they do that.

-- Todd Welch, Everett

Let the grown-ups fix the mess

I listened with bemusement as Republican members of Congress, after meeting with President Obama, continued to try and derail the economic recovery of this country. Urging us to continue down the path of "trickle-down" economics, rewarding the "haves" while ignoring all the rest of us, and not quickly repairing the breaches in the network of needed economic regulation and protection was very thoroughly repudiated at the polls last November. Why do they now think they should have veto power over our future?

If House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and crew have no new ideas and cannot bring any fresh thinking to the table, they should have the grace to get out of the way and let the grown-ups fix the mess they've made.

The bill of goods they have been selling since 1996 is stale and, even worse, completely wrong. Just take a look at the mess Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House, former White House adviser Karl Rove, former President Bush and others have left us.

What part of defeat didn't they understand?

-- Judy Porterfield, Seattle

A case of overkill

I know that most of Congress feels they cannot spend enough on the 2009 stimulus package and they are in a rush to get it out. The big push is to create jobs and personal spending.

President Obama said it will create 3 million jobs. Well, I am little confused by what he and Congress are doing and how they are trying to slice up the pie.

If they are trying to help out Americans, my simple calculations show that the $800 billion or more they want to spend can provide $40,000 in income to 12 million Americans for two years. This would really help out those who have lost their jobs in this recession.

However, it seems Congress is determined to distribute this money to everyone except those who need it. Did you know between the 2008 and 2009 stimulus packages, Congress will have spent enough money to give 48 million Americans $40,000 for one year? Does this strike anybody as a case of overkill?

How many people have been laid off? Not 12 million -- not even half. Is anybody crunching the numbers?

Oh, and the price tag to you, the average taxpayer, is roughly $12,000. I think it is time we start paying attention to what these amateurs are doing. I know I can't afford to blow $12,000 without some serious consideration.

Obama and Congress need to slow down and give due consideration to what they are doing. Right now, Washington hasn't the slightest idea as to what this money will do and where it is really going. Need evidence? Look at the 2008 stimulus package. Anybody know where all the money went? Anybody know what good it did? Enough said.

-- Ron Papcun, Bonney Lake

Landing in the landfill

As our current government looks to stimulate the economy with billions of borrowed dollars, there is significant possibility of failure. This possible failure should be seen as a challenge to the American people. We must ask not what our government can do to fix the situation, but what we the people can do to help our economy.

A change that we need to make is in our consumerism mentality.

It is not that we consume, but what and how we consume that is bad. We must move away from buying the cheap and short-lived items that crowd store shelves and then landfills, to fewer, long-lasting items.

We are depleting our natural resources to manufacture these goods and then using them to turn the Earth into one large and expensive landfill. By consuming so many cheap and disposable items, we are not only spending too much money, but we are spending this money on things that we just turn around and throw out soon after purchase.

Buying smart will not only help save money, it will help conserve our planet.

-- Bryn Fluharty, Seattle

Microcredit lending lends a hand

The current economic crisis is caused by a lack of credit. Credit allows business to move through buying, selling, paying wages and investing.

Look at the poor. They always lack credit, not able to get loans. For the poor, it is always hard to move ahead.

But, now they can.

The new possibility is microcredit lending ["Focus U.S. aid on the poorest," Jan 27, guest commentary]. Microlending is providing small loans to people of low income. Small loans, together with the right support, enables these people to have better repayment rates than standard bank borrowers.

Ten years ago, there were 8 million microcredit loans. Now, more than 100 million poor people have received these small loans. This has created an explosion of economic activity -- 100 million families have the ability to work themselves out of poverty.

Microcredit lending works. Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for creating, supporting and proving the effectiveness of microcredit lending.

It is time for the United States to support an effective program. As the new Obama administration reviews the U.S. foreign aid program, it should beef up support for microcredit lending. Money is tight. Times are tough. Let's do what works.

-- Ronald Borovec, Bothell

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

State stimulus bill

Posted by Letters editor

Resorting to reflex

While I understand Go. Christine Gregoire faces difficult choices in attempting to balance the state budget, I would like to recommend an essential criterion "jobs programs" must meet to be considered fair to our populace: gender equity.

Several areas facing deep cuts in the state budget have high ratios of female employment, namely education, health care and social services. In contrast, jobs Gregoire intends to create are in male-dominated fields, notably construction.

I believe it has become a reflex in our country to equate jobs programs with construction work, dating from Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program, which unabashedly targeted young men.

Please, rather than tradition, consider the wide range of professionals currently unemployed in our state who could benefit from a jobs program innovatively updated from the 1930s version.

-- Trish Goedecke, Edmonds

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle school closures

Posted by Letters editor

The voice of a silent minority

Let me see if I have this correct. Three years ago, when Montlake Elementary School was threatened with closure, affluent parents in the neighborhood banded together in protest and were successful in keeping the school open. Fast forward three years: Montlake Elementary School again appears on the list of schools to be closed. But, parents band together and are successful once more in removing the school from the chopping block.

Credit should be given to these parents in their successful efforts to keep their school open.

Across town, we have the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center (SBOC), Seattle's port-of-entry school for immigrant and refugee students, on the current list of schools to be closed. The question might well be asked: Where are the parents of these students? Why aren't they protesting the closure of the school and the Seattle School Board's reneging on its 2006 promise for a stand-alone site? Why aren't they complaining about the loss of $14 million originally slated for a new school for SBOC students that instead went to cost overruns for other schools?

Might the answer lie in the fact that the parents of SBOC students speak 60 different languages, do not understand the school system and have little time to organize (even if they did speak English)?

Many parents of refugee and immigrant students work two or three jobs to simply sustain their families, but they nonetheless have valid concerns about the education of their children.

The school board must listen to the different ethnic-community groups representing this silent minority: Horn of Africa Services, the Vietnamese Friendship Association and Campana Quetzel among others. All advocate keeping the SBOC a stand-alone school.

One does not like to think that the Seattle School Board takes advantage of its non-English-speaking parents when it makes decisions about which schools will be closed or relocated, but cynicism cannot be rejected outright.

-- Jeanette Corkery, Seattle

Charter the road to educational success

I cannot think of a better education system than one in which like-minded, competent teachers get together and start their own charter school: teacher-operated, student-centered, without the disruptive and expensive administrative overhead.

Our taxpayers currently support 295 independent school districts in Washington state alone, each one with a superintendent, a school board and large number of nonteaching administrators and backup staff. If private schools thrive without a supervising bureaucracy, charter schools, if operated by dedicated educators, should do quite well. It is worth a try; we can learn from the success or failure of existing charter schools.

-- James Behrend, Bainbridge Island

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

The Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

Time to get with us, Republicans

Regarding E.J. Dionne Jr.'s article in the Tuesday Opinion section ["Not all Republicans ready to play nice," syndicated columnist, Jan. 27], wasn't it a famous Republican who stated, "If you're not with us you're against us?" Everything the government does at this time of crisis affects everyone no matter your political makeup. We are all in this together and we all need to come together to get ourselves out of it.

Everything should be on the table and those with the knowledge to put forth plans to get us out of this mess should be listened to. No more politics as usual. But, the Republicans don't seem to get the message. How dare them try to stop what needs to be done in order to play party politics.

Every time I hear a Republican state that the stimulus package being put forth by the Obama administration will put this country in further debt, I want to remind them it was during the past eight years we got into the terrible debt we are in now.

If rescinding the tax cut for the wealthy will help the economy now, we need to rescind it. If giving money directly to the people and bypassing the trickle-down effect of tax cuts to businesses works better, let's do it.

Republicans cannot continue to think with their past mind-sets. Whether they like it or not, the federal government is the only entity capable of helping us now.

I repeat, we are in a crisis, a major crisis. We need to act now and act together.

-- Kathy Harris, Seattle

Don't rain on the parade

I see where Charles Krauthammer is as dyspeptic as ever ["A stunning exercise in lowered expectations," Times, syndicated columnist, Jan. 25].

He has managed to carp and cavil over President Obama's inaugural address, an address that has instilled hope and brightened the outlook of about three-quarters of Americans. At present, the nation is in some nasty economic weather. When its new leader offers some sorely-needed rays of sunshine, Krauthammer opts to rain on the parade.

Apparently he enjoys feeling miserable. I'm not a doctor, but if I were, I'd prescribe an enema for Krauthammer. He's in sore need of immediate relief.

-- Bob Wojtyna, Woodinville

Purple tunnel of doom

At 4 a.m. Jan. 20, I awoke in Baltimore. I was about to catch a train to witness history. This was to be an
amazing and historic day -- something I'd looked forward to since I started volunteering for the Obama campaign.

However, due to the indifference and incompetence of those in charge, I spent Tuesday morning in the "Purple ticket tunnel," waiting with false hope and foolish faith in those who were trusted to organize and execute this historic event. Unfortunately for me, those in charge didn't feel it important enough to staff the line or provide police guidance for the mob that formed.

I started the day hoping to witness a historic event; it soon ended with historic disappointment and frustration. All those around me were extremely upset and some started to cry. Those of us kept out of the inauguration because of this incompetence have lost something that can never be replaced.

This was still a great day and an important moment in our history. I'm just disappointed that I will always remember it with some sadness and frustration.

--John McMillan, Sammamish

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

Michigan man who froze to death

Posted by Letters editor

An inexcusable embarrassment

Thank you to The Times for the article on the 93-year-old man in Michigan who froze to death because his heat had been turned off for not paying his bill. We humans have been around for about 200,000 years now with this wonderful brain that enables us, for the first time in the 1-billion-year history of multicellular life, to meet all of our survival needs without competing and killing each other for them.

I think it's about time we took this new brain for a spin.

Maybe we can establish a national holiday of shame for allowing our fellow humans to die from a lack of basic necessities in the name of keeping a tidy profit for the already overfed. This is taking the spirit of competitive commerce to the obscene extreme.

This is my country and I love it, but I find this event inexcusably embarrassing. We are better than this. Even in this time of crisis, it has to be possible for our people not to die like this.

-- Harold Pettus, Everett

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January 28, 2009 4:00 PM

Globalist quiz

Posted by Letters editor

Bad chemistry

"The Globalist" ["Quiz CO2 emissions: the magic number," News, Jan. 26] got it very badly wrong on Monday with respect to its comments on the atmospheric chemistry of global warming: 440 parts per million is neither "a generally-accepted goal" for the average CO2 content of the atmosphere, nor is it "safe."

Such statements are profoundly wrongheaded. Perhaps they should be viewed as indicative of just how bad the consequences of the "mile wide and an inch deep" quality of science education really are ["Streamlined science-ed standards debated," Local News, Jan. 10].

The consequences of the current 385 parts per million (ppm) level are hardly "safe." And while the Keeling Curve is perhaps the only truly meaningful "threat level" scale commonly used today, perhaps the more dangerous condition is not so much the condition of the atmosphere. Rather, perhaps it's the public's lack of preparedness to see it as such, and thus to be adequately alarmed by its implications.

-- Craig Dupler, Seattle

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January 27, 2009 4:00 PM

Wolves in the Olympic Peninsula

Posted by Letters editor

AP Photo / U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A gray wolf rests in tall grass in this undated photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Gray wolves have been taken off the federal Endangered Species Act list in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Put an end to the pity party

Editor, The Times:

As an elk hunter, I always keep up on the latest sentiment regarding wolves. Sandi Doughton's article hit numerous "hot buttons" of the debate, yet most of the issues hunters and ranchers subscribe to were buried in the end of the article ["Can wolves restore an ecosystem?" Times, page one, Jan. 25].

Front-page readers were greeted with an emotive introductory sentence: "No trace remains of the wolves whose howls ricocheted for millennia down the lush valleys of the Olympic Peninsula."

Though the efficacy of wolf predation on certain species is not in dispute, introduction of canis lupus (the gray wolf) opens the proverbial Pandora's box of problems, such that once introduced, wolves propagate quickly and, if not controlled through hunting, create as many problems as they may solve.

Wolves are a majestic predator, but we seem to have a fascination with them as something sacrosanct. Wolves have devastating effects on elk herds and other wildlife and, contrary to popular belief, do not hunt only what they need.

Yet, as Doughton stated, it's illegal to hunt wolves, except in rare circumstances. Yet wolves are so fruitful in Alaska and Canada, they are considered vermin by many.

Wolves may indeed be the panacea forests and certain species of wildlife need for recovery, but they can also become prolific in a short period of time.

Many decent, nature-loving people are erroneously loath to see wolves hunted to regulate their numbers and range, to the chagrin of others.

-- Thomas Martens, Bothell

Sympathy for the elk

It's easy to believe that an overabundance of elk is causing environmental problems in Olympic National Park ["Can wolves restore an ecosystem?" Times, page one, Jan. 25]. And certainly, wolves would help with that, though they would also create problems for ranchers, which is why wolves were eliminated in the first place.

One would think that the easiest solution would be to allow hunting of the elk by humans, but this possibility is dismissed with the words, ". . . killing of animals inside a national park would not be popular. Wolves are."

I think your reporter is forgetting that the elk are killed in either case. Either they are killed by a shot from a hunter, or they are killed by the teeth of a pack of wolves.

Were I an elk, I know which I would prefer.

-- Jeff Evans, Kirkland

One species endangered, several preserved

Wolf advocates just won't give up on selling the wolf as the answer to all ecology problems. What is missing in this discussion are the advocates of elk, deer and, in Alaska, caribou.

Have you looked into the precipitous declines of those animals after the introduction of wolves? Go find out what happened to Yellowstone, Montana and Idaho deer and elk herds after the wolf packs were reintroduced and what will happen to Washington herds now that wolves are in Northeastern Washington.

Go confirm that the caribou population in Denali National Park was reduced from 22,000 to 2,000 after the reintroduction of wolves. Go find out that the reproductive capability of these herds is hamstrung by wolves killing the calves, not just the weak and old animals.

Wolves are not the answer.

-- Ronald Riedasch, Anacortes

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January 27, 2009 4:00 PM

The Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

The right to disagree

If the column that ran today ["Limbaugh: the jeers of a clown," Jan. 25] is the best analysis that Leonard Pitts Jr. can do, then he should be fired. It is an emotional diatribe that avoids making an argument. Calling those who oppose you "clowns" doesn't invite discussion; it is meant to shut down the opposition.

Limbaugh has said he thinks Obama's policies are wrong and will make the problems we face worse. So yes, he hopes the policies fail. It is a valid opinion. Obama isn't a god, he is the president. We have a right to disagree with him.

Pitts' level of opinion is trite and unserious. Fortunately, you have Charles Krauthammer on the same pages, making a cogent statement and backing up his reasoning.

-- Janet Suppes, Bellevue

Playing the game of dirty politics

What an ironic contrast to read the pieces today by both Leonard Pitts Jr. and Charles Krauthammer ["A stunning exercise in lowered expectations," syndicated columnist, Jan. 25].

Pitts is brilliant and completely right in pointing out how horrible it is for anyone to put their political ideology above the well-being of their nation and nails it when he calls out Rush Limbaugh as a clown who is clearly far more interested in his political opinions and ego than he is in the good of America.

Krauthammer does the same thing Limbaugh is doing. Krauthammer spends an entire piece doing nothing but being a voice for the Republican Party, attacking President Obama in an effort to play dirty politics.

I understand this section is called "opinion," but when millions in this country and billions in the world see the inauguration speech and recognize it for what it is, why do you publish this kind of writing?

Krauthammer is motivated by nothing but partisan politics to write abitter piece of drivel specifically targeted at our new president.

-- Matthew Hilditch, Kent

Destructive criticism

After enduring eight years of former President Bush, I was hoping to get a breath of fresh air with the election of President Obama. But fresh out of the gate, with his first shot, Charles Krauthammer has reconfirmed his position as the primary (at least as far as The Seattle Times is concerned) Republican apologist in political media.

In his column on Jan. 25, he launches into a critique of President Obama's inaugural address. It's not constructive criticism, but destructive criticism. He not only belittles the 2 million people who were in the crowd (enduring 25-degree temperatures) and their enthusiasm, but rips apart the president's speech, which was intended to provide a clue for how the administration intends to lead.

Krauthammer has so categorically blessed the Republican right, including the entire Bush administration, and condemned the Democratic Party and any of its initiatives that he has painted himself entirely "right wing" with no consideration of what might be good on the left.

Without further analyzing his political commentary, I have to respectfully request that The Times find another Republican, right-of-center commentator. There have to be a number of them who can give us a balanced view of the political landscape.

We don't need destructive criticism, we need constructive criticism.

-- Ted Ludgate, Edmonds

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January 27, 2009 4:00 PM

National budget

Posted by Letters editor

Tail-wagging corporations

When will our politicians get a backbone?

This recent string of bailouts is due to big corporations -- American International Group (AIG), Chrysler, General Motors (GM), etc. -- sending their CEOs and lobbyists to D.C. to tell Congress that America can't afford their company to fold.

And whether it is because of pocket lining or lack of judgment, Capitol Hill keeps granting bailouts.

This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

If I were in Congress and a CEO came before my committee hearing telling me how America can't afford to live without their company, I would stand up, look this corporate exec in the eye and firmly say:

"Apparently you are confused, mister CEO. It's not that we can't afford for you to close, but rather due to your miss management, you cannot afford to stay open. Now it seems that you may have got lost because the bankruptcy department is down the hall on the left."

-- Chad Pelesky, Lakewood

Tax cuts cut corners

Republicans should know people who are losing their jobs and homes don't need a tax cut. They need jobs and homes.

-- Fred LaMotte, Steilacoom

Greed furthered by secularization

Greed on Wall Street and Main Street are repeatedly being cited as the reason for our financial-system meltdown and resultant recession. Greed is not the problem, but only a symptom of the overall breakdown of morality in much of our society.

This breakdown has coincided with the assault on Christianity by secularists and activist judges, resulting in the diminishment of religion in the public arena.

George Washington, the father of our country, said in his farewell address, "Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports and let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion."

John Adams, another Founding Father and our second president, stated that "morality and religion are essential for a democratic government to endure."

Greed is not the only symptom manifested by the loss of our moral compass. The three-fastest-growing industries in America are gambling, prostitution and illegal drugs.

Ann Graham, Billy Graham's daughter, was asked why God had turned his back on us. Her answer: "He didn't turn his back on us; we walked away from him."

The secular progressives have succeeded in taking prayer out of our schools. They are determined to see "In God We Trust" removed from our currency, "so help me God" removed from our oaths of office and "under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. They would also like to see the "Ten Commandments" chiseled off the walls of our public institutions.

The Christians founders who formed this nation and built tolerance into our Bill of Rights ironically are not being extended the same consideration from those who came later into our society. If we want to reverse further breakdown of morality we must get back to our religious roots, speak out and stand firm against the assault by the liberal progressives and their activist judges.

-- Robert Johnston, Camano Island

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January 27, 2009 4:00 PM

WASL reforms

Posted by Letters editor

Blowing smoke about feasibility

Newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) were the subject of a Seattle Times editorial Sunday ["Scrutiny encouraged for WASL reforms," Jan. 25].

The Times urged him to slow down the WASL-revisions process in order to let people review it. That's good advice. But The Times seems unconcerned about the proposal to run the WASL by computer in two days, instead of two weeks.

I'm sure the technology exists to rewrite the test for computer administration, though I'm unclear as to the cost and timeline. What seems to be overlooked is the huge lack of hardware needed to administer all four sections of the test in multiple grade levels at the same time.

The junior high school from which I recently retired after 37 years of teaching has about 90 computers available for such a purpose, and that's stretching it. The school has about 500 seventh- and eighth-graders, who will have to take their portion of the test simultaneously to preserve test security.

It's not hard to see the problem, but no one seems to be talking about it.

Either Dorn intends to run the test cycle for the original three weeks, despite what he's said about administering the test over a couple of days instead of a couple of weeks, or he's blowing smoke about the feasibility of using computers. My question is: From where is the hardware coming to run the test?"

-- Kenneth Mortland, Bothell

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January 27, 2009 4:00 PM

Rural-home construction

Posted by Letters editor

Promoting an un-green lifestyle

"Vision meets reality" [Pacific Northwest magazine, Jan. 25], about the Preston-area home, highlighted the structure's architectural beauty. But, it also promoted new-home construction in rural areas, which degrades the environment. The home in the article resulted in:

-- Using extensive resources to construct almost 5,000 square-feet of livable space;

-- Increasing impervious area (home, guesthouse, garage, driveway), which facilitates rainfall runoff and reduces groundwater recharge;

-- Removing native vegetation, which eliminates wildlife habitat; and

-- Discouraging the presence of certain wildlife species that are sensitive to ecological disturbances such as houses, light, noise and pets.

But, perhaps the most significant impact of this home and many others that are built in rural areas is their dependency on privately-owned vehicles. Typically, many more gallons of gas are spent by rural dwellers because of their long commutes than city dwellers who live closer to work, shopping, and recreational activities.

Please stop glorifying rural living. While living in forested areas can, as reported by the homeowners, "allow you to feel like you're living in the trees," it damages our planet. It is a lifestyle you should not continue to extol.

-- Josh Kahan, Seattle

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Microsoft layoffs

Posted by Letters editor

John Lok / The Seattle Times

Microsoft announced last week the company will cut 5,000 jobs in the next 18 months. At far right is the West Campus, which is under construction.

What it means to invest "seed capital"

Editor, The Times:

Ditto to The Seattle Times editorial about Microsoft's layoffs ["Microsoft's layoffs: challenge, opportunity," Jan. 24]. Microsoft was an innovative Northwest company that took a small idea, "software," and made it into a big idea.

We need more innovative new industries that can make this happen, such as the solar-power industry. I know it well; I am a solar-energy inventor.

Like it or not, most solar-energy inventions take 20 years to develop before hitting the market. What investors today call "seed capital," is really "developmental capital" after the inventor has spent 20 years trying to develop their product.

There is a gap in investment capital between "proof of commercial market" and the patent issued, at least when it comes to renewable energy. Gone are the days when Nikola Tesla would invent alternating current (AC) systems and Westinghouse Electric Company would invest.

Today, what investors call "seed capital" isn't really seed capital at all. They don't want to take the risk. It is the burden of the investor to come up with $10 million development plans to raise $10 million in "seed capital."

We have numerous solar inventions sitting idle; nothing is going to happen unless investors change their attitudes.

If solar technology were fully developed, we could employ people, giving inventions a "Made in Washington state" stamp, not "Made in China."

-- Martin Nix, Seattle

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Obama in office

Posted by Letters editor

Stop pointing fingers

It's time to stop the infighting between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives ["Speech evokes fightin' words," Times, News, Jan. 23]. It's time to look around: Our county is in deep financial trouble and morale is low.

Many of our neighbors are losing their homes and jobs and it is bound to get worse before we can turn this mess we are in around. It isn't a time to stand pointing fingers at who's to blame; it's a time to come together and support this wonderful country of ours.

I say quit looking for ways to make President Obama wrong and stand beside him, at least giving him and Congress a chance to make healthy changes. It is our lives and those of our children that we are fighting for.

If the only thing the Bush administration can find to say about Obama's inaugural speech is that he discredited Bush, they missed all he seemed to be trying to say to lift our spirits and offer hope.

Right now, we need hope.

Remember "one nation, under God"? It would be good to stop and ponder what our Founding Fathers meant when they wrote these words.

-- Nancy Cole, Mountlake Terrace

Talking is not doing

Sacrifice is not progress, and we the people are the ones who can and must make progress happen ["The new president's challenge: sacrifice we can believe in," Peter Cannavo and Karen Liftin, guest columnists, Jan. 25].

It is easy to say everyone cannot have the American dream -- it assumes there are those in the world who will expect others to provide it for them. But, talk is not action; we know what must be done, and we have trained people who not only can save airline passengers, they want to work to ensure a lifestyle.

As soon as we have a financial sector that can see beyond short-term profits generated by "voodoo economics," things will start to happen. It will be about time, for we have already wasted two generations.

-- Hugh Coleman, Kelso

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

College tuition

Posted by Letters editor

Stop whining and pay it back later

Erik Lowe ["Keep college tuition affordable," guest columnist, Jan. 24] seems to be complaining about the high cost of tuition -- that some students may be priced out of a college education.

I believe the in-state tuition at the University of Washington is about $7,500 per year. I think this is cheap for a student to get an undergraduate degree in the sciences, such as engineering, computers or a pharmaceuticals, landing them a job with an annual salary of $60,000 or more. I have read also that many dental hygienists make $80,000 or more.

These students should be able to pay off their education debt with little sacrifice of living standards.

Also, where are the parents in assisting with costs? Don't parents prepare for their offsprings' education? Don't they have an obligation to help pay tuition? How many of parents are helping?

Students themselves should be able to get part-time employment to help pay some of their tuition.

I get tired of hearing students and others whining about the cost of a college education and asking the government (tax dollars) to pay for a part of their tuition.

It may take more than four years for some to complete school, but they should be able to do it.

-- Karl Wahl, Bellevue

Don't tax the poor to educate the rich

Regarding Erik Lowe's column on tuition at Washington-sponsored colleges and universities, we have to keep in mind a couple of important truths.

First, it is true that the state of Washington has one of the most regressive, if not the most regressive, tax structures of all 50 states. See the Regent William Gates study for more information.

Regressively taxed individuals, the poor, pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in state taxes, from which state colleges and universities are funded.

Second, it is true that increased returns to knowledge are the primary and overwhelming reason for the increased difference between income and net worth of the rich versus the poor. The more knowledge one acquires, the more he or she will earn in his or her lifetime. See the senior economic adviser to the president, Austan Goolsbee, for this conclusion.

In the state of Washington, the poor are disproportionately funding the education of people who come from families with deep pockets, so that those people can earn superior lifetime incomes.

It just doesn't seem fair, does it?

-- Eric Tronsen, Seattle

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Puppy siege

Posted by Letters editor

Adopt from shelters, not pet shops or breeders

Thank you for alerting the public to the "puppy tsunami" hitting our shores ["600 rescued dogs -- and 80% are pregnant," page one, Jan. 24]. The number of these innocent, little, furry victims is staggering.

The people running the so-called "puppy mills" are criminals and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which is never enough when it concerns animals.

This type of situation should convince people to adopt a dog from a shelter and never from pet shops, breeders or newspaper ads. There is no such a thing as a responsible breeder. It's a business, not love. It is very elitist; the price is usually exorbitant.

We have a campaign asking President Obama to adopt a dog for his little girls from a shelter. It is possible to get any breed you want by visiting

I hope he'll do the right thing and set a much-needed example.

I wish the best for these little dogs: a good home for life.

-- Claudine Erlandson, Shoreline

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Tunneling through the viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Misleading questions mean misleading answers

Andrew Garber's Sunday story ["Deep-bore tunnel: dissecting the decision-making process," local news, Jan. 25] perpetuates the fallacy that Seattle voters rejected a tunnel in March 2007. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, the 2007 election was deeply flawed, structured in such a way that its results were meaningless. If you supported an elevated replacement to the viaduct, you likely voted "no" on the tunnel proposal. If you supported the tunnel option, you likely voted "no" on the elevated viaduct option. And, of course, some voted "no" on both.

The ballot was set up as two separate questions with yes or no answers, rather than asking one question with the option of favoring a tunnel, an elevated roadway or neither. As a result, there were overwhelmingly more "no" votes than anything else.

I have not supported the tunnel option, but I know there are many who do. The truth is we don't know what the people of Seattle really want; the election in March 2007 was a bogus attempt at determining public opinion.

-- Vince Stricherz, Seattle

Spending more tax dollars is not the answer

In 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco, the Embarcadero came tumbling down. It was not replaced with a tunnel or another raised road. Rather, the area is a beautiful waterfront area that supports many businesses with a breathtaking view of the bay. Amazingly enough, commuters still manage to get to their jobs without spending billions of dollars for a new raised road or tunnel.

At a time when the citizens who pay for such construction projects are struggling to make ends meet, the government of Washington state -- a state that has higher taxes than most other states -- wants to add more taxes.

How much has the state already spent on studies and elections where the voters have made their wants known? Apparently not enough because now they want to spend even more.

The state needs to take the money they are wasting and eliminate the deficit we have. If Gov. Christine Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and a certain select group of people must have a tunnel, let them pay for it with a toll. If people really want to eliminate the gridlock in Seattle then we need a well-designed mass-transit system, not just a bunch of busses that can't seem to service major areas.

If we must waste more taxpayer money, at the very least, let's study cities that have more successful systems such as Portland and San Francisco.

-- Penny Fry, Renton

Too much emphasis on POVs,
not enough on mass transit

Using the Los Angeles basin as an example, no matter how many freeways you build, there are never enough to support community growth.

In metropolitan areas, we need to plan so people depend on mass transit and not privately owned vehicles. We need to send all traffic on an improved I-5, remove the viaduct in its entirety, develop the area with open space to the waterfront for electric trolley and service access only, and construct well-planned parking areas.

Lastly, we must pay for the project with [federal stimulus] funds, producing something residents will enjoy for years to come.

-- Paul Christen, Winthrop

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Posted by Letters editor

Highway 520 expansion
Un-Washingtonian from start to finish

I cannot believe our City Council didn't request, when they had the opportunity to do so earlier this month, that the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit consider a transit-optimized, four-lane alternative in the environmental-impact study of the changes being proposed for Highway 520.

The people of Puget Sound have to defend the Arboretum and Lake Washington from a monstrous disaster of a freeway expansion.

In addition, the lovely neighborhood around the Arboretum would be devastated just so that we can get more cars into and out of Seattle during rush hour. So what if someone takes a few minutes longer to get to work or a cultural event?

I don't want to hear the nonsense about the more cars sitting in a traffic jam, the more pollution. They'll be polluting somewhere, whether they're in a traffic jam or not.

We as a society are at an impasse with the future. Al Gore recognizes it. Leo DiCaprio knows it. People in the state of Washington obviously do as well. I hope future generations will be able to commend us for our strong stand to protect the environment in upcoming years.

I really have no patience whatsoever with people who want to build bigger freeways to accommodate more cars as the population grows. Again, so what if more people want to use public roads? It's their lifestyle choice isn't it?

Why are we as a society sitting on our hands as the climate changes? Why do we keep waiting for someone else to do something about it?

I don't have the kind of influence at the level of government that a corporate-business lawyer -- someone who'd advocate more freeways and a wider floating bridge -- has. But, I do know common sense from greed and a stand-patism that won't embrace radical change to protect future generations from horrible ecological nightmares we can only imagine.

The people of Puget Sound have to make the Legislature and the governor stop the 520 expansion mess they are trying to force on King County in the name of progress.

What kind of progress? Progress for someone who's going to make big bucks off a wider bridge being built, more cars being sold to drive on the wider bridge and more suburban driveways being built to park all the new cars being driven.

That sounds distinctly un-Washingtonian to me. Increasingly, it sounds like a crime against humanity.

-- Tom Hundley, Seattle

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January 26, 2009 4:00 PM

Portland mayor sex scandal

Posted by Letters editor

Painting a hypocritical picture

As a member of the Seattle gay community, I find the hypocrisy in dealing with a straight politician's sex scandal, such as Former President Clinton, versus that of a gay politician, such as Portland Mayor Sam Adams ["Despite scandal, Portland mayor says he'll stay," page one, Jan. 26], outrageous and shocking.

For decades, the American gay community fought to overturn the sodomy laws of this nation. In 2003, we received the Lawrence decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared all sodomy laws unconstitutional, and established the right to private, noncommercial, consensual sexual activities between adults.

President Clinton and Mayor Adams engaged in one form of sodomy or another in their respective affairs. Clinton committed adultery, Adams did not. To quote Just Out Publisher Marty Davis, both Clinton and Adams engaged in "... first-degree lying." Moreover, the respective age differences between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was 27 years and between Adams and Beau Breedlove, 25 years.

Both Adams and Breedlove swear their relationship started after Breedlove turned 18. Until I hear clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, I will take them for their word.

Please don't tell me the Portland gay and straight communities don't hold their mayor to a higher standard than their president. America forgave President Clinton; Portland should forgive Mayor Adams.

-- Steven L. Kendall, Seattle

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January 25, 2009 6:00 AM

Putting the viaduct in a tunnel

Posted by Letters editor

Washington State Department of Transportation

This viaduct-replacement schematic shows stacked two-lane tunnels, which would run mainly under First Avenue to bypass downtown Seattle.

Ready for nature's "rock and rolling"

Editor, The Times:

Stand and deliver. That's what Gov. Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels did when they chose a deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The Highway 99 regional-transportation corridor is a vital north-south route with more than 110,000 vehicles daily, and more than half want to get from point A to point B without stopping in Seattle. This volume will continue to grow proportionally as Southwest and Southeast King County attract new residents and businesses.

Three categories of solutions were considered: surface, elevated and trenched- or bored-tunnel options. A surface option would have put these 110,000 vehicles onto Seattle streets daily. The elevated option would have continued to sever downtown Seattle and the waterfront. It was resolutely opposed by business, civic and environmental interests for good cause. The trenched option would have been dug in existing fill dirt along Seattle's waterfront, which is seismically risky and more costly to maintain and operate.

A tunnel for bypass drivers, goods and services will have a 100-year life span. It will be built through solid ground, proven worldwide to withstand Mother Nature's "rock and rolling." It will be constructed while leaving the current viaduct in place, to accommodate transportation during a five- to seven-year construction cycle. It will create roughly 10,000 jobs.

The deep-bore tunnel is an efficient and cost-effective, long-term regional transportation solution. Now, let's get it done.

-- Don Newby, Burien

Too much too soon

At last we may have a workable plan for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. There is only one catch: the price tag.

After looking at all the plans there is one way we could make this project affordable now: Forget about the waterfront. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels needs to cool it on completely redoing Alaskan Way right now. The promenade is a grand idea, but do we need to complete this part of the plan right now? At a cost of almost $1 billion?

We are willing to wait a bit longer for this part of the project. Western Avenue and Alaskan Way can function for some time with only a few improvements, including a new connection to the Battery Street tunnel as planed.

Local property values around the former viaduct will increase enough in the next few years to warrant a local-improvement district at a later date. The seawall does not have to be replaced right now, as the viaduct that it threatens will be gone.

We know that a billion dollars is no big deal for this mayor to spend downtown. But, some of us are steamed that we went along with his billion-dollar, city-road plan (bridging the gap) and haven't seen any resulting improvements in our neighborhoods. The lions' share of that money is being spent downtown.

Downtown Seattle does not have to have it all, all of the time. Let's make some realistic concessions or this plan is doomed to fail like all of the others. Families have to make long-range plans and keep to a budget. So, too, should our government.

Get real, Mr. Mayor, or risk getting nothing done at all.

-- Tom Dunning, Seattle

Enjoy the viaduct while it lasts

While the political community pats itself on the back for a bold step toward the beautification of our city, the thousands of people who use the viaduct should enjoy this beauty while it lasts.

Sure, the city will look better from a blimp or a boat or a waterfront condo, but all those Seattleites who regard this as one of the most scenic drives or bus rides in town will have only memories. I guess their views don't count. Nor do the votes of a plurality of voters who said they preferred an elevated highway.

I hope the waterfront will be nicer, considering we are all paying a lot to make it so.

Still, we can expect more street and Interstate 5 traffic in the area, since two lanes of traffic have been eliminated from the state highway.

But at least we'll be safer, right? Yikes, I just googled "tunnel fires."

-- Paul Bleakney, Seattle

Commuters left out of the discussion

Someone asked me today whether people who drive over the existing viaduct really look at the view and whether it would really matter to them if we replaced the viaduct with a tunnel. The answer is a resounding yes.

The thousands of people who work, play and literally drive our economy don't have to wait for a tunnel to enjoy the waterfront. We enjoy it now, and have for years.

Similar to the stadium measures, downtown developers prefer that a high-priced tunnel replace the viaduct because it will increase their property values, but they don't want to have to singularly pay for it. The problem is that people will move and their tax dollars will move with them. In the meantime, downtown will remain a mess.

Wouldn't it be more fiscally responsible to consider a spectacular, elevated option that would service developers, tourists and commuters alike? It saddens me to see that the leaders of our geographically stunning city don't have the vision to choose an elevated alternative that will draw new tourists while considering the taxpayers and commuters who serve the city.

-- Teresa Mosteller, Seattle

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January 25, 2009 6:00 AM

The Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

An island in the American ocean

To my regret, I did not have much time to watch Barack Obama become President Obama. Now I have started to look over the print articles and photographs of the new president and first lady and I am inspired.

I am inspired by all the people who came out to watch Obama take the oath of office. I am inspired by watching him and his wife walk down Lincoln Avenue together waving to the crowd while, as my wife pointed out, never missing a beat holding hands. This warmed my heart and lifted my spirit.

I have hope for this new administration. I am not sure what the future outcome will be, but for now hope is enough. Previously, I think we, as a country, lost hope and were floating in the ocean with no land in sight. President Obama is an island we can see now -- a place where we can land and take refuge.

To say that all will be OK now is to lie; there are many hurdles ahead, some taller, some shorter. But, now we can move forward and fight our way through this jungle and maybe, just maybe, find a path out. Everyone should stand up and cheer for President Obama, giving all your support to him and our country because he deserves it and our country deserves it.

We need to bring back a shine to this country and remove the tarnish that has grown upon it. This is the land of freedom, choice and opportunity. Enough of selfishness, entitlement and indifference.

Share as much as you can, smile, praise and give your all. Good luck, President and Mrs. Obama, I for one am behind you and send you my best.

-- Tim Smith, Seattle

Gun photo implicates Inauguration Day

On Thursday, you had an article concerning people who did not join in the celebrations for the inauguration ["Inauguration? Ho-hum," Local News, Jan. 22]. The article, mostly concerning Republican or conservative feelings, was fine, but your choice of photo showed extremely bad taste.

The photo shows a young woman at a shooting range celebrating "her Second Amendment right." I may not agree with people who hunt or shoot for sport, but this picture, in coordination with the events of that day, made me angry.

During my lifetime, I can remember the church bombing and killing of the three young black girls, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Bloody Sunday, the killing of the three civil-rights workers in Mississippi and many other violent acts toward African Americans.

Since Tuesday was the inauguration of our first African-American president, the fact that a skinhead plot to kill Obama was discovered awhile back, and that on Jan. 17 Steven Joseph Christopher threatened to assassinate Obama at the inauguration, makes the photo extremely offensive.

-- Linda Knutson, Duvall

Glaring inconsistencies

The young, conservative Lamb Henry mentioned in Erik Lacitis' article has decried television's negative impact on her young children, yet she gets her news from talk-radio personality Rush Limbaugh?

Limbaugh, who is openly and proudly racist, sexist, thrice married and divorced, a prescription-drug addict and famous for denying global climate change, promoting his phony soldier campaign, and issuing insults to Michael J. Fox about faking his Parkinson's symptoms?

I wish Henry luck in raising compassionate, informed children.

-- Katie Wright, Seattle

Celebrating democracy where democracy began

One of the unsung heroes of our democracy's rite of passage was the physical city of Washington D.C.: the drama and grandeur of its vast open spaces, splendid vistas, radial axes and "marbled monuments."

Yet, the irony is that the city-plan's inspiration was brought to it by its designer, the French Parisian Pierre L'Enfant on Gen. George Washington's staff, drawing from his background of Baroque-urban design, especially as seen when serving the authoritarian court of Louis XIV at the Sun King's 17th century palace and gardens of Versailles.

Still, what other American city could have accommodated so splendidly Tuesday's some 2 million visitors, their numbers and rituals there to celebrate the Obama inauguration?

-- Norman Johnston, Seattle

Apple-pie hopes

"Everyone knows an ant can't move a rubber-tree plant, but has high hopes -- high in the sky, apple pie hopes. Whoops, there goes another rubber tree plant!"

President Obama has the same high hopes. Given time and our support, he will move our nation to a place of worldwide respect.

-- Clarice Umperovitc, Everett

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January 25, 2009 6:00 AM

Seattle schools

Posted by Letters editor

Cancel the charter movement

Bigger than the current closure crisis, charter schools represent a clear threat to Washington's education system.

Here's why I think charter schools in Washington are a bad idea:

-- Even more politics in an area where we are already dealing with our fair share of politics surrounding education.

-- A resource-intensive, and therefore costly, process for authorizing districts, which are burdened with the responsibility of oversight and enforcement of standards.

-- The use of the market system to match the supply of education with demand when demand in some areas will inevitably not keep up with supply and charters will be forced to close.

-- The potential to reverse past trends of integration when minority groups and at-risk children are extracted from mainstream schools.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 enabled districts to close or revamp failing schools in a number of ways, including the reopening of charter schools. More districts nationwide are turning to charters to pick up the slack.

Washington's schools need to understand the reasons they are failing before enacting charter schools as an easy out.

-- Jeff Ball, Seattle

More family values, not jails

Lisa Fitzhugh's piece in the Jan. 19 Seattle Times ["More jails, fewer schools: We've got it backward," guest columnist] is itself backward. It is backward because more money for schools will not appreciably lower the crime rate.

The crime rate will only be lowered when children learn to distinguish right from wrong and this can only be effectively learned at home with family. Responsible parenting must somehow be restored in a culture where people have become oblivious to this root cause of crime.

We need to wake up to the fact that it is not OK to purposely bring children into the world into single-parent families. The odds against these children's ability to achieve success in life are too great. Around two-thirds of our prison population come from single-parent families. A minority of single parents can instill proper values in a child; most cannot.

-- Ed Wittmann, Seattle

Throwing scholars into an abyss of uncertainty

The Seattle Times editorial ["Academy's demise offers opportunity," Jan. 12] supporting closure of the African American Academy (AAA) offers a false premise and a false conclusion.

The false premise is that AAA has not lived up to its promise. The fact is, for Seattle schools with African-American students receiving free and reduced lunch (90 of AAA's population), in eight out of 12 cases, the AAA ranks within the top 15 for having at least 50 percent proficiency on the 2008 Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) reading and math tests.

At AAA, 84 percent of the scholars live in single-parent homes and 23 percent live with relatives or foster parents. The recommendation to remove these vulnerable students at AAA, along with the absence of credible data on closure savings and the failure to provide a transition plan to ensure these students' academic success, is reason enough for the board to suspend all consideration of school closures. It is reason enough to direct Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson to provide the board with alternative solutions.

The Times editorial speaks of black children needing "to be in an all-black school …" as a sad statement. It would be a much sadder statement if these scholars were snatched from an environment where they have achieved some success and cast into an abyss of uncertain and, most likely, inequitable outcomes.

-- Dwayne Evans, Seattle

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January 25, 2009 6:00 AM

New King County jail

Posted by Letters editor

Avoid residential sites

I am writing to you as one of many gravely concerned Shoreline residents about the Shoreline Aldercrest Annex as a proposed site for the new King County Jail. This is by far the most "residential" site selected, surrounded by quiet neighborhoods, schools, churches and parks.

This site is also the territorial view from the homes of many residents, especially those to the west of the site. It is a tranquil view now; turning it into a jail would not only drastically decrease property values, but adversely affect the quality of life for nearby residents. The territorial view is one of things that attracted me to buy my home on 23rd Avenue Northeast in Shoreline. This is the same view for all residents on this street, as well as the nearby Lake Forest Park condos, 25th Place condos and many other condo and apartment complexes.

The site is currently used for recreation by many nearby residents, for personal use and for organized sports. A far better alternative use for the land would be a park, a new school or more housing. Keeping it a green space would be best for the neighborhood.

I was appalled to see that the North/East Cities (NEC) Environmental Impact Statement's (EIS) scoping does not consider housing, population and recreation important to their study. What could possibly be more important than these factors in a residential community such as ours?

The residents in the community need to be top priority, not what is easiest for the county and or city to do to get construction under way. I understand that the land is currently "available" in the county's eyes, but that should not be a major deciding factor in this neighborhood.

Additionally, Lake Forest Park residents and Mount Lake Terrace residents need raise their awareness of this issue. Mass mailings need to be sent to all of them.

This has really flown under the radar in a lot of ways for a lot of neighborhood residents and is causing much frustration and distrust toward city and county officials. Please, get involved to make sure that the jail is not built in our neighborhood. The industrial-zoned sites are far more appropriate locations.

-- James Harvey, Shoreline

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January 25, 2009 6:00 AM

National politics

Posted by Letters editor

No room for an "honest mistake"

Tim F. Geithner is a tax cheat ["Economic hot seat," Business, Jan. 18].

With his knowledge and use of professional tax accountants to prepare and file his taxes, there is absolutely no way that what he did to evade paying taxes is an "honest mistake." Why should Americans stand for a guy like this running the United States Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service?

Further, why do we need him? There are plenty of people smart enough and experienced enough to do his job.

What message is the new administration trying to send to the American people? Is the message that the "culture of corruption" is alive and well in Washington?

That's the way I take it, since there is no shortage of talent without this kind of baggage out there ready to serve.

-- Rick Johnson, Burien

Don't discriminate against energy sources

In response to Paul Rogat Loeb's article ["Stoking the furnace of a green economy," guest columnist, Jan. 22], I offer the following observations.

The high-efficiency Trane furnace, which Loeb says he purchased, does promote American jobs in New Jersey and Texas, but the bottom-line profits flow to Bermuda where the principal executive office of Ingersoll Rand, the parent company, is located. This points out the need for our country to look carefully at our corporate tax rates with respect to foreign neighbors to make sure that we are competitive in this regard.

This will insure that jobs and profits are kept here.

My former business, Dorse and Company, Inc., was and still is a manufacturers' representative and now wholesaler of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment. Part of the company's product offering has been and still is heat-recovery equipment. We've furnished a significant amount of this equipment for the past 30 years.

The main reason the end user buys this equipment is the relatively short payback period and the continued reduction in the cost of fuel thereafter. The secondary benefits, the reduction in pollution and carbon-dioxide emission, are also important.

For the past 30 years, our home, located on the shore of Puget Sound, has enjoyed the benefits of a heat-recovery system that I designed for our centrally-located fireplace. The fuel is driftwood that we burn only when the weather is permitting. The system draws in 100 percent outside air and pressurizes our living space so as to minimize infiltration. The back wall, which is brick, acts as a heat sink and continues to emit heat for at least 12 hours after the fire is out. When this system is operating, we turn down the thermostat, as there is no need for the gas-fired base board heating that serves the main floor. Similarly, I do a lot of barbecuing and this is only done with driftwood, never charcoal briquettes.

Where I disagree with Loeb is in his advocacy of mandating energy-efficient furnaces and a solar- and wind-energy generation. Let the market determine what is to be used; don't let the government pick winners and losers regarding the energy generation.

While our government restricts and regulates oil exploration and production, Saudi Arabia continues to discover vast oil reserves with state-of-the-art lateral drilling and develops cleaner-burning gasoline in their laboratories. Our energy policy should be comprehensive and encourage all forms of domestically produced energy.

-- Bob Dorse, Seattle

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January 23, 2009 4:10 PM

The new man in the White House

Posted by Letters editor

Associated Press

President Obama talks to reporters at a Friday meeting on the economy.

Time to dust ourselves off

Editor, The Times:

I am proud to be an American. And I am happy that we, as a country, have survived the almost medieval dark ages of the past eight years.

Although it is notable and wonderful that an African-American has achieved the nation's highest office, it's more important that we have someone who meets important qualifications for this office. To me, the president must be a person that has a history of achieving world-class standards of competence, who exhibits world-class leadership skills, has world-class intelligence sharpened by a world-class education and has world-class integrity and vision.

During the election, I was irritated by rhetoric using the word "elite" to somehow belittle those who aspire to high office. "Elite" means "the best." The president should be part of America's elite. Not only America, but the entire world needs the U.S. president to both embody and represent the best of what America can be.
Many times this week and on inauguration day, we heard that all childrencan be anything they want to be. This isn't a new realization or dream, but it feels new again and that's exciting.

However, this dream needs to be clarified. Children can be anything they want to be if they develop clear goals, prepare to achieve their goals, are determined to achieve their goals and are willing and able to do the work their goals require. This may sound like a lot, but it's exactly how President Barack Obama came to this moment.

Children can be encouraged that they only need to begin with one goal and a single step. The rest can come over time.

In the film "Oh, God," a little girl asks God why he doesn't take care of us, and he responds, "That's why I gave you each other." Our country is a mess, but the president's speech challenged each of us to dust ourselves off and go to work to get our country back in shape. The job will be difficult, but not impossible, because not only do we have each other, we have a great leader. God bless America.

-- Michael Kysar, Bellevue

Muscular policies are welcome

The inauguration of President Obama is historic in nature. It's inspiring to many millions of Americans and doubtless millions worldwide. It represents the possibility for new beginnings. It cannot be ignored that the hearts of many Americans that have been directly affected by the meanness of bigotry are lifted in a powerful and meaningful way.

We can be grateful for a nation in which power is transferred with civility and even graciousness. We can be thankful that no terrorist event or domestic upheaval marred the day.

But, as our new president says, the day of celebration has passed and the days of hard work ahead are here.

The nation is far from healed. While the election results were clear — and thankfully did not require recounts or judicial fiat — provocative policy shifts to the left will deepen the chasm of suspicion and spark animus anew.

Specifically, the retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates signifies the acknowledgment of a currently correct (thought, curiously, refuted) policy in the war in Iraq. The immediate and irrevocable withdrawal of troops touted early in the Obama campaign are thankfully now reconsidered; the possibility of another democratically stable partner in the Middle East remains. A muscular policy toward the heinous al-Qaida in Afghanistan and the rest of the world is also welcome.

Issues still on the table are the debate of what size and influence government should have in our lives. The president suggests a larger role when the opposition still simmers over bloated programs administered by the Bush administration: fair taxation that stimulates economic growth and not entitlement, the issue of protecting the unborn, and how to responsibly use legitimate science to determine outcomes for our planet and society.

Let us hope and pray this administration does not miss the opportunities placed before it by returning to tired, activist-driven policy predicated on re-election. May the Obama administration govern toward the center and truly bring this nation together.

-- Mark Bowers, Issaquah

A reminder of American ineligibility

My youngest son and I listened to the excitement of the inauguration events as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. president.

The news media repeatedly speak of the historic significance of President Obama being the first African-American president. Again and again, they reiterate how his election confirms the ideal that in this country all things are possible — that anyone, given talent and ambition, can rise to service in this country's highest office.

But, I had to explain to my son that he cannot. He is limited by his birth in Southeast Asia, even though he was adopted on American soil at the age of 3 and has full American citizenship by international and domestic law.

There are thousands of children and adults that share my son's status. Children who, especially in the past 20 years, left their countries of origin for the hope of new families and the opportunities this country has to offer. As these children and adults become more numerous, more vocal and are called to serve, we, as a nation, may need to carefully reconsider our definition of "American" and whether we can limit any individual's potential.

We, as a family, are proud of our son's heritage but it is heartbreaking to explain to him that he can never aspire to his country's highest office. International adoptees add to the richness and diversity of the families and communities they join. As their numbers increase, the U.S. government and its people will have to decide if they are ineligible to serve the country of their citizenship due to the geographic location of their birth.

-- Cherie White, Shoreline

Inspiring, selfless service

As I sat in my second-period history class watching President Obama take the oath of office with 30 of my students last Tuesday, I felt, like so many of us, the overwhelming sense of hope and promise embodied in this man standing before us all.

Hope and promise beam from the now 44th president, who still claims to be nothing more than a public servant. Service to the community is something we teach strongly at Centennial Middle School in Snohomish and something my leadership students are learning firsthand.

Over the holidays, one of my students lost his mother in a horrible traffic accident, leaving his 33-year-old father with five kids -- aged 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 years --to raise on his own. Confronted with this tragedy, the students in my leadership class decided to put into action that which President Obama stated in his New Era of Service speech: "Don't underestimate the power of people to pull together and to accomplish amazing things."

With this in mind, my students began a fundraiser, selling shirts to raise money for the grief-stricken family.
The most difficult task for us was locating a screen printer willing to donate time and service to our cause. In the end, we found Kevin Padon, the owner and operator of Norwest Graphics in Seattle. Padon became the physical embodiment of Obama's words: "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." Coming in early, working through lunch and staying late, he helped us reach our goal of selling 1,000 shirts and donating more than $6,000 to the family.

So often we get caught up reading about our weakening economy, struggling banks and auto industry and massive job cuts, that we don't hear the local stories of people pulling together to help out those in need.
It is my great hope that Kevin's service to our project and, in fact, to his country does not go unnoticed. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, "When you give, move your feet, not your lips."

-- Dave Larson, Snohomish

The real "empty vessel" left office

I read with amusement about the conservatives unable to watch or listen to the inauguration ["Inauguration? ho-hum," Times, Local News, Jan. 22]. All I can say is: Now they know what it has felt like for most of us for the past eight years.

As for saying that President Obama did not say what he was going to do and sounded like an "empty vessel," maybe they are just too young or just want to ignore that the real empty vessel lifted off in a helicopter the same day as the inauguration. Not only could their man not talk, he did not have a whole lot rumbling around inside of him — he never has.

In contrast, the present vessel is eloquent and intelligent and expresses himself in a loftier manner through words of meaning and substance. Only those without these qualities would miss it. Sorry, you conservatives missed it.

-- Lucy Oaks, Redmond

Re-examining our roots

Hopefully your readers and others wont take offense or find it alarming when Thomas L. Friedman ["Swing for the fences, Mr. President," syndicated columnist, Jan. 22] employs the word "radical" in his column. After all, this term has been a misnomer in too many instances years passed, always overlooking its true meaning, "from the root."

Most of us know and understand that our system of doing things has to be changed from the ground up. We must go back to " the roots" and look for the values to be found there.

-- Ruth Quiban, Seattle

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January 23, 2009 4:06 PM

Health care and balancing the state budget

Posted by Letters editor

Truly a medical home

Carol M. Ostrom's feature on medical homes ["Curing what ails us," Pacific Northwest magazine, Jan. 18] points to the importance of centering health care around the patient. However, this feature ignores the 30-year track record of community health centers in the state.

Community health centers are health-care homes because they have all the ingredients of a medical home and they integrate medical, dental and behavioral health, as well as additional services to support the needs of the most vulnerable -- the low income, uninsured and underinsured -- for better health outcomes.

For International Community Health Services, this means offering culturally competent care and wraparound services, including translation and interpretation, education, outreach and eligibility services, which reduce barriers and maximize the effectiveness of care. Last year, they served approximately 16,000 patients in more than20 languages on a regular basis in the International District and Rainier Valley clinics.

They are a "one-stop shop" with a team of employees providing primary care and helping patients access the complex health-care system, including specialty care and, when needed, hospitalization.
They are not only a medical- and dental-health provider, but a friend and support system. They are truly a health-care home.

-- Teresita Batayola, Seattle

Blinded by short-term savings

I find the plan to cut funding for community family-planning nurses in an effort to balance the Washington state budget to be irresponsible and poorly thought-out.These nurses are part of an effective program that provides much-needed family-planning services to people with low incomes.

In such economic times when the rich are still richer and the poor still poorer, maintaining a program that is matched by federal funds ninefold, and that extends contraceptive services -- as well as prenatal care, annual exams and cancer screenings to women who may not be able to get similar services elsewhere -- is well worth holding close and dear.

While it is enticing to see the brief savings of the short-term cut, the only way we are going to heal the strength and structure of our financial systems is if we begin to think about the long-term effects.
Punishing people with low incomes and harming their health-care rights and services is not any sort of way to build back the foundation of our state's economy.

Positive growth will get us much further than endangerment.

-- Olivia Corrado, Seattle

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January 23, 2009 4:01 PM

Higher education funding and priorities

Posted by Letters editor

Stop the special treatment of athletes

Everywhere these days, it seems we are challenged and confronted at all levels with the absolute need to reorder our personal, governmental and societal priorities. I want to believe that the president, regents and other administrators of our local paragon of higher education, the University of Washington, would understand that they, too, must participate in this reordering process.

Alas, in several of their recent actions and decisions, specifically the outlandish, multimillion-dollar contracts for football coaches and the absurd lobbying push for $150 million Husky Stadium from the state of Washington, I have found little evidence that the university's leaders and administrators "get it."

As the only member of our family who is not a UW graduate (my wife and both adult children are alumni), I pick carefully the issues on which I give the school poor marks. However, after reading Nick Perry's front-page story ["Doors Close at UW," News, Jan. 17], I simply had to decry the decision to exclude "athletes" from this spring's admissions limitation.

It's not that I object to a student being an athlete, but if the UW's critical-core mission is to educate, then emphasis should be put on the word "student" not on the word "athlete." For our common good, the president, regents, other administrators and the rest of us must abandon the wrongheaded policy and practice of placing "athlete-students" ahead of "student-athletes" in the admissions line.

-- Edward Kushner, Bainbridge Island

Future investment in a healthier society

Recently, there has much discussion about sacrificing college affordability in order to reel in the state's deficit. As a college student myself, I certainly do not want to see this happen. However, aside from my own interest in the subject, statistics relating to the economic benefits of higher education show that an investment in college students is an investment in the future of the economy.

Making drastic cuts in higher education would be an impetuous response to the current financial crisis. Some of the main economic benefits to a well-educated citizenry are increased tax revenue generated by higher employment rates, a healthier society less dependent on social services and decreased crime and incarceration rates with increased educational attainment.

The facts conclusively show that cutting higher-education funding and balancingthe state budget on the backs of students and their families will only further hurt the economy. If sound public policy is the product of disciplined prudence, then our state leaders must act upon the understanding that a college education is the engine that will ultimately drive our state out of this financial crisis.

-- Jake Stillwell, Ellensburg

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

An Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

Pete Souza / White House via Getty Images

President Barack Obama talks with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office of the White House Jan. 21, the first complete day of Obama's administration.

Invest the green, produce the green

Editor, The Times:

Obama's inaugural address had a powerful message: "We will harness the sun and the wind and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories."

These are potent and inspiring words, but in reality, most polluters will not stop polluting without motivation. We must insist on real, effective solutions to put President Obama's words into action.

Proactive companies, such as Tom's of Maine, power their production with clean, renewable energy. In the case of Tom's of Maine, 100 percent of the energy running their factory is harnessed wind power. While this switch was voluntarily, not all industries that pollute are ready to take such radical action or responsibility for their contribution to global warming.

"Cap-and-invest" is the most responsible and effective policy I have seen put forth. It caps pollution levels and generates revenue, which is then channeled into the creation of green-collar jobs. As one of the 11 million-plus unemployed in this country, I certainly welcome this solution.

Let's forward a modified version of Obama's powerful message to our political leaders here in Washington state: We are ready to harness and power a greener world through cap-and-invest!

-- Randi Gladwell, Seattle

Too much coverage

Sixteen-page-plus coverage of the inauguration? Four poster-size pictures of Obama? What did you expect us to do with these? Frame them and hang them in our living rooms?

How about showing a little restraint in your coverage of this man? Your over-the-top reporting on a Chicago politician's rise to power is bordering manic, to say the least.

-- Dee Hilt, Bremerton

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

Health care

Posted by Letters editor

Thousands with insurance, but without care

I am writing in response to Carol Ostrom's Sunday piece ["Curing what ails us," Pacific Northwest magazine, Jan. 18] about health care and innovative ways to improve it.

I am an internist, meaning I provide primary medical care for adults, and I am concerned that the biggest drawback to the "retainer" or "concierge" or "boutique" model of health care is not even mentioned in this fairly extensive overview of innovations in the delivery of health care. To quote Ostrom, "… a primary-care shortage looms -- here and everywhere. A bazillion baby boomers with complex chronic diseases are lumbering into geezerhood …"

In the face of this, Ostrom seems to tout the "retainer or concierge or boutique" model of health-care delivery (for those who can afford it), despite citing (and apparently ignoring) two important figures: The doctors in a Qliance style of "retainer-concierge-boutique" practice will carry about 500 to 800 patients each; a typical primary care provider carries about 2,500 to 3,000 patients.

I find myself wondering where the 1,800 to 2,500 patients who have been effectively abandoned by their boutique doctors -- those patients the boutique practice cannot or will not accommodate -- will now be receiving health care. Are those of us who are continuing to do our best to provide high-quality, primary care to our current patients now expected to expand our practices by thousands of patients so that patients who have been left behind by their boutique doctors can continue to receive health care?

If so, this is certainly a recipe for worsening the quality of health care, not improving it, as already overextended providers become even more overextended.

If not, the denying of health care to these thousands of patients is certainly another recipe for worsening the quality of health care, not improving it, as these patients are added to the ranks of those who have no access to health care, despite having health insurance.

It is clear to me that the appearance of boutique or retainer practices is adding to the shortage of primary-care physicians and is making it more difficult for patients to receive health care. It is not a model of innovative health-care that should be praised or encouraged.

-- Dan Stambor, M.D., Seattle

Sacrifice nothing, everyone benefits

As a family-practice physician for more than 20 years, I have seen both sides. Completing my family-practice residency and working for Group Health for five years, I left in 1995 to go into private practice with another family physician and a nurse practitioner at Woodinville Primary Care. We all wanted to spend more time with our patients and enjoy our practice more. This was our initial mission statement.

I am very pleased to say after 12 years, we are alive and well. Our appointments are half an hour, other than for single problems like colds or ear aches and complete physicals, which are 45 minutes. We have five other providers who work with us; the model of care is very similar to the Group Health Factoria pilot. Our phone calls on weekends are few because we take time to talk to our patients while they are in clinic. We do lots of preventive care and patient education one on one; I like to say we are preventive-care specialists.

We cofounded Puget Sound Family Physicians (PSFP) with three other clinics seven years ago. We benefited from insurance contracting and implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) together three years ago.

In comparison with another clinic of similar size in the PSFP group who sees twice as many patients in a year, our annual income is about the same. Our patient satisfaction scores in PSFP have consistently been high because we take time to talk to our patients. Our employees are stellar and generally stay a long time, considering every practice has some turnover.

We do not have a subscription practice. In other words, we don't have a surcharge above insurance, in order to provide patient-centered care. Our practice is self-sustaining with no large debt and we all make a living wage.

The bottom line: Primary care can be done in a sustainable way for both patients and physicians without sacrificing quality. We've been doing it for 12 years and plan to continue.

So, in answer to the charge that family practice is going to collapse, from my perspective, I don't think so. We just have to make it work the way it should for all of us.

-- Sally Edwards, M.D., Woodinville

Fighting a losing battle

It was refreshing to read in "Curing what ails us" that some physicians are seeing the wisdom of the naturopathic approach to medicine: more patient time, listening and prevention. However, as important as these are for improving health and reducing costs, they are not enough.

As long as the M.D. medical system is joined at the hip bone to the pharmaceutical industry, they will continue to fight the losing battle of, as they phrase it, "managing" symptoms instead of curing patients. The deaths, side effects and astronomical costs prove that chasing symptoms with drugs doesn't work.

While we in the naturopathic community are flattered to be imitated, real change to the disastrous medical system will not take place until all doctors, not just naturopathic doctors, stop covering up symptoms with drugs and start focusing on treating the underlying causes of disease.

-- Thomas Ballard, R.N., N.D., Seattle

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Don't forget, Israel has tried many policies

Steve Niva's "Losing hearts and minds: Israel's futile way of war" [guest columnist, Jan. 17], raises many questions.

However horrible and perhaps ill-conceived the battle in Gaza is, when Niva suggests that Israel should learn from U.S. actions in Iraq in winning the hearts and minds of people, one wonders whether he missed the past five or six years. Few countries are as guilty of poor and ineffective policies and angering the populace as the U.S. has been in Iraq. If Niva sees a change in the last year, the effectiveness of any new policies have yet to be proven.

Of course, Israel has tried many policies, such as the period of Israeli capital investment in Palestinian-occupied lands with a share of border-crossing revenues given to the Palestine Authority -- a period that ended when it became clear the revenue was used for graft and armaments to attack Israel and almost nothing else. A good idea even if it didn't work.

And when he joins the chorus of those who say it's unfair because Israelis suffered fewer casualties than Palestinians, suggesting all would be OK if more Israelis died, he seems to have forgotten that it would be better if fewer people died in war, not more. Israel suffered the first casualties in this action when Palestinian rockets were fired across the border at Israeli towns.

New ways to deal with rocket attacks would be welcome. One would hope an academic analyst, if that's what Niva is, would bring more to the table than just prejudice.

-- Leonard Goodisman, Bothell

Justifiable rage

The article "Breaking the rules of war" [News, Jan. 17], portrays both Hamas and Israel as being guilty of breaking the rules of warfare by targeting civilians. Technically, this is true. But if you compare the results of the attacks it quickly becomes clear that Israel is the real aggressor in this conflict.

The hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas have killed only three Israeli civilians. This proves that the rocket attacks are ineffective and pose little risk to Israel.

The attacks by Israel have killed hundreds of Palestinians. The death toll of civilians is running a ratio of 100 to one.

Israel also has a history of using weapons that are banned for use in areas where there are civilians. In their attack on Lebanon, they used cluster bombs (provided by the United States) and in the current attack on Gaza there is strong evidence they are using white-phosphorous weapons. The use of these weapons constitutes war crimes, but they know they will get away with it since our government will protect them from any punishment issued by the U.N.

Our blind support of Israel, regardless of what they do, makes us a party to their war crimes. It justifiably enrages the Muslim world, which could result in a terrorist attack against us. I see no advantage to our support of Israel. It is time for the United States to stop supporting the Israeli military.

-- Gary Maxwell, Lynnwood

Systematic violation of international law

The article "Breaking the rules of war" [News, Jan. 17] suffers an error of emphasis.

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed dismay during her confirmation hearings at Hamas' indoctrination of children, use of children as suicide bombers and use of civilians to shield its terrorists, reporter Steven Erlanger attempts to deflect attention from the ultimate war-crimes culprit: Hamas.

Irwin Culter, Canada's former minister of justice and current professor of law at McGill University, stated recently that there is "almost no comparable example" anywhere in today's world that so systematically violates international agreements related to armed conflict than Hamas. According to Cutler, Hamas is committing at least six violations of international law:

1. Targeting civilians in Israeli cities with rockets and mortars;

2. Using civilian structures, apartments, mosques and hospitals as shields from which to launch its attacks;

3. Using humanitarian symbols, such as ambulances and hospitals as well as U.N. logos, to transport weapons and fighters;

4. Inciting the public directly to commit genocide (Fourth Geneva Convention);

5. Launching a systematic attack on civilians, which upgrades the violation to a crime against humanity;

6. Recruiting children for armed conflict.

Israel's response to such war crimes is called self-preservation.

-- Larry May, Bellevue

Violence then occupation, not occupation then violence

Steve Niva's column is filled with the usual propagandist's tricks, such as repeating old wives' tales about Gaza as "the world's most crowded patch of land" (it isn't) or making grotesque analogies between Hamas and the Irish Republican Army (which, as far as I know, laid no claim to London or Manchester) or imputing Hamas' violence to Israeli "occupation" (which ended years ago).

But, it also reminds us that in Middle East studies as in Mideast diplomacy, nothing succeeds like failure. In September 1993, President Clinton rewarded the world's (then) leading terrorist, Yasser Arafat, by inviting him to preside over a state of his own. But Arafat, like his current successors in Gaza, showed far more interest in destroying somebody else's society via bloody "jihad" than in building one of his own; the hideous effects of Clinton's reward of terrorism are still very much in evidence.

Nevertheless, Clinton to this day is widely revered as a peacemaking wizard in Middle East affairs because he presided over this charade performed in the Rose Garden itself. Dennis Ross, a prime architect of the whole catastrophe, is now slated to be the lead man in President Obama's team of experts on the Middle East.

Other stale bromides trotted out by Niva -- the "political" or peace process, land for peace, two-state solution, etc. -- have also been tried and failed, confuted again and again by Arab rejection.

When Israel withdrew from Lebanon, Hezbollah began its incursions and bombardments. When Israel withdrew from Gaza and expelled Gaza's Jewish inhabitants, Hamas, entirely in charge of its own fate, did not set about the boring business of building the institutions of a civil society -- commerce, health care, public works, education -- but devoted all its demonic energy to pulling down the state of Israel.

The practitioners of Middle East studies have invariably been wrong -- wrong about the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Lebanese civil war, the less than perfectly democratic nature of Arafat's regime and the threat of Islamic fascism.

Thus, Niva's is a representative specimen of his academic guild in ignoring the obvious: It is Arab-Muslim hatred and violence that leads to occupation, not occupation that causes hatred; and the imperial threat in Gaza is not Israel, but the fanatical regime in Iran, for which Hamas is a proxy.

-- Edward Alexander, Seattle

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

The Seattle Freeze

Posted by Letters editor

Seattle gloom calls for a cheery mood

Eric Lacitis' article ["Friendless in Seattle," page one, Jan. 17] about the "Seattle Freeze" was spot on and it was easy for me to identify with the young newcomer to the city when she said, "Even in Chicago, crossing paths, you make eye contact and might smile to acknowledge the other person. Here, everybody looks down or straight ahead."

Unfortunately, that has also been my experience.

There is a reason you never hear someone say, "I'm so glad I moved to Seattle -- the people here are so friendly!" Your city is a lovely one, and people here are nice enough when you come into contact with them in such circumstances as a retail transaction or participation in a mutually held-interest group. However, there is an unmistakable coolness exuded by many inhabitants of this city toward people they don't know; it exceeds what I would consider "normal."

For example, I've been visiting a friend who lives near the zoo an average of once or twice a month for over three years now. Her next-door neighbor knows I am a frequent guest who stays in the house adjacent to her own. She no doubt recognizes me and my car. But when I attempt to make eye contact with her to say hello, she completely ignores my presence.

I encounter the same thing when I take long walks around the neighborhood. People here simply are not in the habit of exchanging greetings unless they know one another. Anyone reading this who has lived somewhere else where the majority of people act more friendly knows what I'm talking about. Life is hard enough for all of us and a momentary exchange of smiles and pleasantries between strangers can serve to brighten a gloomy day, of which there is no shortage here in Seattle.

In this city, the prevailing attitude seems to be: "I don't know you, so there is no reason for me to acknowledge you, let alone be civil toward you. I have my world, and you're not even on the periphery of it."

Perhaps, this is a Pacific Northwest thing, as everyday civility isn't much better in Portland, where I currently live.

To those residents who do indeed exchange greetings with people they've never seen before, and may never see again, know that you are doing your part to diminish the pervasiveness of the "Seattle Freeze."

-- Dan Possumato, Portland

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM

National budget

Posted by Letters editor

Taxpayers are smart, tax breaks are smarter

It's a huge stretch, but let's assume I am rich and receive a $50,000 tax cut. What would I do with the money?

Perhaps, I'd add another extra bedroom to my mansion, buy new cars for my granddaughters or upgrade my yacht. If feeling generous, I might contribute to the local food bank or charities helping victims of recent-extreme weather. Otherwise, I'd invest in businesses (stocks, bonds, etc.) or just put the money in the bank and make it available for loans. In other words, I'd stimulate the economy.

The decisions of the not-rich may be of a different magnitude, but surely they've become better spenders over the past year or so.

How would the government spend the money if there was no tax cut? Losing it seems to be popular these days. Paying the salaries of the bureaucrats who lost money, rewarding businesses and home buyers for making bad decisions, giving benefits to illegal immigrants, doling it out to the states for projects the states don't want badly enough to pay for themselves, or beefing up the earmark for the sausage museum in Porkytown, Ill., are all possibilities.

God only knows what else the lobbyists, campaign contributors and unions soak us for. Perhaps, a small fraction might actually do some good.

Those who think government spends money more wisely than most taxpayers are likely the same folks who think taxes on businesses don't get passed on to consumers.

-- Gary McGavran, Bellevue

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January 22, 2009 4:00 PM


Posted by Letters editor

Learn from your mistakes

Landslides will continue.

While the worst of the winter storms may be behind us, we should take this time to reflect on the ways these disasters could be prevented. On July 13, The Seattle Times reported reasons for the landslides in Lewis County that caused 3,000 residents to live without clean tap water for three months ["Landslides," page one]. The article stated that the slides could have been prevented if the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) actually did its job and surveyed slide risks.

DNR would have found that many sites Weyerhaeuser was clear-cutting were at an extreme risk of causing a landslide. They didn't learn from their mistakes. Here we are again, a year later, with similar problems, including flooding, landslides and more than $100 million in public and private property damage.

Why did DNR not respond to such an oversight? I have one hypothesis: It is because state forest-trust lands have provided more than $4.5 billion in trust revenue since 1970. This money pays for schools, hospitals and other public services.

Point blank: We need the money and Weyerhaeuser gives it. However, the risks should be weighed.

Will the damage clear-cutting caused really be outweighed by monetary benefits? I think not, but the state seems to think differently.

-- Cassandra Little, Seattle

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January 21, 2009 4:01 PM

President Obama

Posted by Letters editor

Jose Luis Magana/ The Associated Press

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd as they walk down Pennsylvania Avenue after the inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

Letting go of control

Editor, The Times:

I am a conservative and I have not changed my politics. I'm still a conservative and I wish my side had won. But, this is how our government works and I make it my policy to not worry about things I have no control over.

Therefore, I am proud of my country and I am proud of President Obama. I am excited about the coming months. Obama definitely won't make some of the decisions I would make if I were in his shoes, but if he truly listens to all sides in each situation and observes history, he could wind up being a great president. And I would be happy to help in any way I can.

To those who will yell and scream, thinking I've gone soft or have no core, I'm sorry, but I won't worry over things I have no control over. I will give our new president, my new president, the benefit of the doubt and wait to see how he will govern.

This is a great day in America. This is a great day for the breakdown of racism and the irrational hatred, or simply the dislike, of "people not like us."

As a Christian, I believe God is still on the throne. God bless you, Mr. President, and God bless America.

-- Dave Phillips, Puyallup

Red flags in Federal Way

The Times reported the Federal Way School District was requiring permission notes from parents before students could see or hear the 44th president of the United States deliver his inaugural address ["Students need OK to see Obama speech," Times, Around the Northwest, Local News, Jan. 17].

This was said to be because the inauguration was "not part of the regular course work." Such a policy raises many questions.

As a retired teacher, I am dismayed to read of such a restriction placed on teachers and students. It is difficult for me to believe teachers would put up with it and parents would condone it. I can only assume that most administrators are embarrassed by such a policy.

It would be interesting to learn how such an asininity came to be seen by some as essential to the education system in Federal Way.

-- Sy Schwartz, Bellingham

A one-sided controversy

The subhead, "2 controversial figures selected by Obama," of your article ["Division over inaugural prayer," Local News, Jan. 19] is indicative of the liberal bias in the mainstream media against religious conservatives.

Why is Pastor Rick Warren's inclusion controversial? He is a fairly mainstream pastor of a California megachurch and a very successful author. Sure, he opposes same-sex marriage, but so do most Americans and so do probably 99.9 percent of evangelical pastors.

Bishop Gene Robinson, on the other hand, left his wife and children to be with his male partner. His election to bishop caused a split and irreparable harm to the Episcopal denomination. This was not an unexpected result. He put his own interests ahead of the church.

So, I can only see one controversial figure here.

-- Dennis Russell, Edmonds

Better late than never

I became dismayed while listening to a local, public-radio station the day after President Obama's inauguration. People were asked to share their thoughts about the event.

Multiple people said that now, Jan. 21, 2009, they could get busy with creating change; now they could make a difference; now they could serve. One man said that before Jan. 21, he would have left that errant piece of paper in the trash can, but now he would make the effort to place it in the recycle bin.

While I consider the previous administration's legacy less than positive, I never imagined its "negative power" so virulent as to prevent individuals from recycling.

I, and others who have been working for change since the Clinton administration, have wondered why it's hard to recruit volunteers and motivate people toward the change they say they want.

I guess now I know what the problem was.

Come to think of it, I have been struggling to lose weight for the past eight years with little success.

Regardless of what's been stopping you, I say to those who now find themselves capable of helping, "Welcome! We're glad you're here! Let's get busy."

-- Dan Hazen, Marysville

Fictional perspective

Charles Krauthammer has found a silver lining, suggesting President Obama endorses former President Bush's policies ["Thanks to Obama, Bush's legacy is secure," syndicated columnist, Jan. 18]. It reminds me of an old joke I just made up:

Two men stand outside a pretty house rented by a murderous criminal.

The first man says, "Let's burn it to the ground. Heck, let's torch the entire neighborhood. Burn, baby, burn!"

The second man says, "No, he's trapped inside so we can keep an eye on him."

The first man, ignoring the second man, tosses a Molotov cocktail and the house is quickly engulfed in flames.

"Yeah, take that!" he taunts. Quickly, the fire spreads to other homes, and embers fly and begin to destroy adjacent neighborhoods, killing many innocent people.

The second man says, "You're crazy. We have to put out the fire."

The first man, happy at first, realizes his recklessness has gotten out of control and finally calls the fire department. Many firefighters die battling the blaze. Many more are wounded. Smoldering homes and occasional flare-ups continue.

The second laments, "What a tragedy. I'm so glad you finally called the fire department."

Krauthammer looks on, "See, they both agree after all."

-- David Wall, Kirkland

Covering his tracks

Former President George W. Bush repeatedly claims that history will judge his presidency, while his administration fights tooth and nail to prevent White House e-mails from being archived for future historians.

I wonder what data he expects history to judge him on unless it's the book he yearns to write.

-- Michael Konkol, Brier

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

Crash-landing on the Hudson River

Posted by Letters editor

Front-page irony

The Jan. 15 plane crash-landing on the Hudson River was wonderful in so many ways ["Miracle on the Hudson," page one].

Firstly, because no one was killed. Secondly, because it showcased the best qualities of everyone: pilot, passengers and rescuers. Thirdly, because the timing of the drama totally eclipsed what would have been the leading national headline: "President Bush's farewell speech."

The print and TV news naturally focused on the more interesting drama of the crash, where we could see ordinary Americans at their best, in sharp contrast to the departing president, who has to be one of the worst examples of leadership and American citizenship in this country.

At least one TV commentator encapsulated the irony well when he said something to the effect that the crash scenario demonstrates how great Americans truly are despite their terrible president.

It was "good riddance" in the best sense of the phrase.

-- Tandy Cook, Redmond

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Hamas as much to blame for civilian deaths

Steve Niva's opinion piece ["Losing hearts and minds: Israel's futile way of war," guest columnist, Jan. 17] is naive and simplistic. Israel has to stop Hamas from firing rockets at civilian population centers in Israel from Gaza.

Israel does all it can to limit civilian casualties, short of capitulation. Hamas is responsible for the civilian casualties because it intentionally draws Israeli fire to Palestinian civilians. This is a barbaric thing for Hamas to do.

The world community rewards Hamas for the suffering it causes Gazan citizens when it responds the way Niva did. If the world responded with disgust to Hamas, instead of apologizing for its barbarity, Hamas wouldn't use this tactic. If people like Niva put as much pressure on Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israeli civilians as they do on Israel to stop defending itself, this situation might never have happened.

-- Barry Werner, Seattle resident living in Israel

Temporary relief and cease-fire are not enough

Your Jan. 15 editorial, "As Gaza bleeds," must be commended for balance and for rightfully pointing out that the U.S. must do more to restrain our friend Israel. Largely overlooked by the press, Israel has, for years, waged a virtual war on Gaza by controlling borders and denying access to food, fuel, power and water. It is a war that continued uninterrupted after the official recognition of Israel by Fatah and well before Hamas came to power.

As volunteers in Gaza City in 2000, we witnessed essential shortages due to closures, power disruptions, restriction in the number of workers allowed to travel to and from jobs in Gaza or Israel, land confiscation for settlements and bypass roads. Since then, regular correspondence with Gazan friends in a relief agency and a Christian hospital attest to a relentless tightening of the economic blockade and continuous escalation of military measures to subdue resistance and "pacify" civilians.

Humanitarian assistance is now the highest priority, but temporary resupply of food and medicine is not enough. No cease-fire will endure unless the borders are permanently opened to normal commerce. As the most powerful military force in the Middle East (said to be among the top-five nuclear world powers), Israel has the responsibility to open the door to peace with Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Maybe one of the terms of a lasting agreement could be an exchange of reparations: Hamas will agree to repair rocket damage in Israel, and Israel will agree to repair the damage done to Gaza. A small gesture might be permitting the green grocers in the open-air markets of east Jerusalem to sell produce grown by small Palestinian farmers, instead of Israeli agri-businesses located on Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley.

Thank you for also printing the comments by Akiva Segan ["Common ground in Gaza begins with a cease-fire," guest commentary, Jan. 15], a viewpoint shared by many thoughtful Jews.

-- Fred and Mary Pneuman, Medina

Consequences proportional to the problem

After reading Steve Niva's article, it was the last straw. Let me relate the issues of Gaza on a local level.

Suppose he country of Mercer Island ("Islanders") vows to kill and eliminate all of its neighbors. Over a period of five years, they shoot over 6,000 missiles indiscriminately into your neighborhood.

Your neighborhood extends from Lynnwood in the north to Tacoma in the south, west to Bremerton and east past North Bend. It's no problem, after all, when the siren goes off; you have 14 seconds to find shelter. It does not matter that only four of your fellow citizens were killed in 2008. Don't count the physical damage, so you can try to explain again to your child when he wakes up screaming that it is not his fault his aunt was wounded and he is traumatized.

There are 800,000 inhabitants in Seattle and Bellevue alone. The Mercer Islanders have vowed to kill all of you, put it in their constitution and perpetrated terrorist acts. And yet, you continue to provide them with access roads for supplies, water and power, and treat their sick and wounded.

The Islanders are solely responsible for their actions and the consequences of those actions. They elected Hamas, not the citizens of Seattle. Your alternatives are simple: Put up with it or act in your own self-defense as clinically as possible to eliminate the threats to your citizens.

Proportionality? Fine, start sending rockets down on the Islanders indiscriminately (to make up for lost time, let's send 1,000 per month for the next six months) or go after the problem and eliminate the threat. The consequences are proportional to the problem initiated by the Islanders.

-- Jack Richlen, Seattle

Time to stop justifying Hamas rocket-fire

Steve Niva writes about Israel's "disproportionate force and heavy-handedness." He did not mention that Israel acted in self-defense against Hamas' terrorists acts aimed intentionally at killing innocent civilians. He did not mention that these acts violate international law and vowing to eliminate a nation is also an act of terrorism and further violation of international law.

Hamas is a terrorist organization backed by Iran that uses civilians as human shields to attack civilians and kill anyone who opposes its fundamentalist ideology, including moderate Palestinians who are seeking peace with Israel.

Israel does not have settlements in Gaza and has not had any since 2005. It is time to stop justifying Hamas rocket attacks and the repression of the Palestinians under the nonexistent "occupation."

It is up to the Palestinians, not Israel, to develop their political and civic institutions. Hamas chose to use their resources to dig smuggling tunnels and project rockets toward Israel, rather than develop a nation. Israel chose to protect its citizens.

Any cease-fire agreement must include a 100 percent halt to rocket attacks and a guarantee that Hamas will not rearm. Only then should Israel be expected to cease its response.

-- Iris Langman, Mercer Island

Israel's standard of morality

Steve Niva's diatribe against Israel is nothing short of scurrilous. He conveniently ignores assorted inconvenient truths, including Hamas' explicit commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel; Hamas' explicit commitment to the annihilation or subjugation or all non-Muslims; and Hamas' utterly cowardly, amoral and willful disregard of all Geneva Conventions by dressing as civilians, hiding among civilians and ruthlessly using fellow Palestinians as human shields.

Despite the fact that the Palestinians overwhelming voted Hamas into office, knowing full-well Hamas' murderous ideology and policies, Israel has been remarkably careful to minimize true civilian casualties.

Had Israel really wanted to go fully after Hamas command and control centers and hold the Palestinian electorate accountable for its political choices, it would have bombed into oblivion Gaza's Shifa Hospital, in the basement of which the cowardly Hamas leadership took shelter. This would have ended the war within a few days.

Instead, Israel chose to handicap its military ability in order to adhere to its standards of morality and international conventions, even though its opponent has no morality and contemptuously violates all international codes of conduct.

-- Gabriel Scherzer, Bellevue

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

The next Air Force One

Posted by Letters editor

American-made, always

I read The Times article, "Airbus could build next Air Force One" [News, Jan. 18]. I believe the presidential plane, Air Force One, should always be "American Made." It would be a grave mistake to award the contract to any foreign entity, not only from a standpoint of American pride in workmanship, but also from a national security standpoint.

My late father worked for Boeing for many years. While he did not work on any projects involving presidential aircraft, he was always proud that Boeing built the airplane that transports the president of the United States of America. I personally believe that if the current 747 version of Air Force One has to be replaced, it should be replaced with a slightly smaller Boeing airplane with more versatility in landing at smaller airstrips. Bigger is not always "better." I'd rather see the president travel in a mid-size aircraft that was sleek and secure than lumbering around in an Airbus that looks more like a whale that swallowed a school bus.

The president doesn't need reporters or politicians hitching a ride on his plane. The refueling-in-midair feature is nice, but I'd rather see it armed as if it were a miniature B-52. The public surely wouldn't be offended by onboard weaponry to protect the commander in chief of the armed forces.

A streamlined Boeing plane serving as the new Air Force One would help maintain American jobs, maintain technological secrecy of the plane's components and enable the president to use the plane in more locales that cannot presently be served.

-- James Marples, Longview, Texas

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

Tunnel replacement for the viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Transportation first, aesthetics and tourism second

Most of the letters you are printing regarding this topic have been for the tunnel as the best replacement to the viaduct. I would like you to require that everyone who comments about the tunnel, either pro or con, states how often they use the viaduct now and plan to in the future.

I live in Magnolia and have to go to West Seattle once a week in order to pick up my granddaughter and take her to the Seattle Center. I use the viaduct to get to Costco on Fourth Avenue and to the airport. I am on the viaduct at least four times a week.

Do any of the letter writers who think a beautiful waterfront is the primary goal even use the viaduct? Ask the truckers and the people who actually use the viaduct to get from point A to point B what they think.

I know the tourist-related businesses on the waterfront are in favor of a tunnel, so more people can get to their establishments. And I am sure whoever owns the property on the waterfront would love to see a tunnel because it means more money in their pockets and ultimately more money for the government in property and other taxes. But, I quit going to the waterfront for dining because some restaurants are already hitting tourists with higher prices than locals can afford to pay.

The tunnel, as it is currently designed, doesn't help the people who live in Magnolia, Ballard and northwest of Aurora and Interstate 5. The trucking industry is already making it known the tunnel could hinder their transporting of goods to and from the waterfront.

I also wonder if the tunnel goes only to Aurora or I-5 or wherever they have planned, how many people will be forced to use surface streets to get to their destination?

-- Kathy Harris, Seattle

Keep on digging

The tunnel is a great idea, but why stop at two miles? Why not extend it all the way to Interstate 5? Better yet, extend it to the Eastside and fix the Highway 520 issue at the same time.

In fact, why don't we build a whole network of tunnels linking to the Seattle Center and finally fix the Mercer mess?

Now I've got it! Let's put I-5 in a tunnel all the way from Oregon to B.C. Wouldn't that make Western
Washington much prettier? Price is no object, right?

-- Don McDaniel, Kirkland

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

Energy policy

Posted by Letters editor

Taxes fuel the flame

How could you even publish such a misinformed idea as Ron Sher's opinion piece about boosting our gas tax ["A perfect time to boost the gas tax," guest commentary, Jan. 16]? Why can't people get it that our economy works best when the government lets us spend our own money instead of thinking that the government spends it better? What was this guy thinking?

People are losing their jobs right and left -- my own personal savings has been practically wiped out -- people are losing their homes and the economy is on a downward path that seems to have no end in sight.

Raising taxes on anything right now is like throwing gas on a fire. I noticed that Sher is a pretty successful businessman. How could he be so insensitive at the same time? Raising gas taxes? You have got to be kidding me.

-- Robert Rudd, Lynnwood

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January 21, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle school closures

Posted by Letters editor

Music stars become dwindling embers

Seattle boasts two of the best high-school music programs in the country: Garfield in the south end and Roosevelt in the north end. They are fed by the two best middle-school music programs in the city: Washington in the south end and Eckstein in the north end.

It's truly amazing. These music programs are shining stars in the Seattle school system, and they provide a place for kids to come together and create something the entire community, and the even the country, can enjoy and be proud of. They are proof of what is possible in public schools.

These programs have taken years to build and cost a lot of money. Each one of them is heavily subsidized by friends and families of the students they serve. Auctions, fundraisers, bake sales — it all adds up. This year, Friends of Washington Music, the parent group at Washington Middle School, has a $50,000 budget to support the roughly 500 students in its music program.

The current school-closure plan requires that approximately 240 students move from Washington to Hamilton. Almost all of these students participate in the music program at Washington. When these students leave, their dollars will follow and the ability to raise $50,000 will be cut in half.

That is only the beginning of the demise of the music program at Washington. Once the Washington program declines, the Garfield music program won't be far behind. Seattle public schools will be left with shining stars in the north end (Roosevelt and Eckstein) and dwindling embers in the south end (Garfield and Washington).

I wonder what Quincy Jones, whose name graces the new performance center at Garfield, would think about that.

-- Alice Boytz, Seattle

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January 20, 2009 4:00 PM

The beginning of an era

Posted by Letters editor


First lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush wait to wave goodbye as former Vice President Dick Cheney departs on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol after Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States Tuesday.

King to Obama: The journey has just begun

Editor, The Times:

On Aug. 28, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed his dream for the United States of America, and on Jan. 20, 2009, in front of the U.S. Capitol, Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office to become the president of the United States of America.

From the Lincoln Memorial across the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol is a distance of 1.9 miles. It took 45 years, four months, and 23 days for us as a nation to make the journey from the one historic spot to the other.

I calculate this to be a speed of 7.25 inches per day, a seemingly glacially slow speed, but because of the hope, courage, perseverance and patience of so many, and their willingness to continue to put one foot in front of the other, it was a journey that was possible within some people's lifetimes.

I am thankful for all those who made this journey possible and wonder if there is anything we could not accomplish as a nation if we were to continue to move forward together with the same determination.

-- Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto, Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church, Des Moines

An incomparable occasion

The world watched an incomparable occasion Tuesday. Barack Obama, an immigrant's son, became the 44th U.S president, the first African-American president -- leader of one of the world's most powerful nations.

The inaugural poetess noted, "many have died for this day." In fact, slaves helped build the Capitol.

The momentous inauguration represented triumph over suffering, battles fiercely waged, and the cruelty of hatred, discrimination and oppression. A barrier shattered. MLK's dream was made manifest.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin stated that Obama summoned us to a larger spirit, calling for a return to the values of our core heritage.

Goodwin observed that for many, the U.S. is more than a country. It is an ideal.

A brilliant man and constitutional law scholar, Obama paid tribute to the Founding Fathers and our Constitution, indicating we would not choose between safety and our ideals.

After leading us into war and financial ruin, George Bush exited the presidency with a 13 percent approval rating.

Obama inherits a herculean task. He spoke honestly about the difficulties our nation faces, yet inspired hope and confidence.

Reverend Joseph Lowery's concluding prayer invoked the joy of a new beginning.

Millions of smiling faces concurred.

-- Bambi Litchman, Tacoma

The torch is passed

I watched the inauguration of our 44th president with a sense of awe. My feelings of pride mixed with trepidation as I realized that we baby boomers have passed an important milestone.

We have elected a president who is younger than me.

The presidency of the United States is no job for a young person. I sure hope the kid is up to it.

-- Patrick Murphy, Seattle

Support our new president

History was made Tuesday.

As I sat watching the images from Washington, D.C., covering the inauguration of our new President Barack Obama, never in my nearly 75 years on this Earth have I never witnessed anything to compare it to.

Seeing the tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, from all over these United States of America and from many nations there on the National Mall to witness history being made, I realized just how proud I am to be an American and I have to be honest in saying that it did bring tears to my eyes.

The election and inauguration of Barack Obama is not only a historic day for the United States, but also for the whole world. I also realize that there are the dissenters, those who are against having a black president.

But what I want for those people to realize is that this man has brought something very special to the United States. Not since JFK has there been a president who has sparked in the American public the feeling that this man, Barack Obama, cares about each of them. Our new president has inherited a financial crisis, high unemployment, two wars and conflicts around the world. But I believe the American people feel this man and the people he has selected to serve with him are going to do all they can to solve these problems.

It is now up to all of us to do what we can to support our president, to do all we can as citizens of this nation to confront the challenges we all face. Now is the time to be strong, to conduct our daily lives with honesty, integrity and with a purpose that will help to restore the United States again as a leader in the free world.

-- Art Larson, Kirkland

Cast aside ethnic labels

At this historical time, many news commentators are using the ethnic term "African-American" in reporting on Barack Obama. I hope we will someday cast aside the ethnic classification of our people and realize we are all part of the U.S.A., a unique amenity in the eyes of the world.

We have endured eight years of a questionable regime and now hope for a restoration of the nation first envisioned by our Founding Fathers 233 years ago.

-- Benton Williams, Port Orchard

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January 20, 2009 4:00 PM

The end of an error

Posted by Letters editor

Heads you lose

From George W. Bush's Farewell Address:

"You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions."

The flip of a quarter could have made the tough decisions. At least that George W. would have made the right choice half the time.

Farewell, indeed.

-- Lewis I. Hutchison, Everett

A BIG legacy

The president of BIG -- Big government, Big spending, Big war, Big tax breaks and giveaways to Big business and the wealthy -- is gone at last! What a legacy he has left behind for us!

Will we be able to pick up the pieces and put a better America back together? Yes! Will we need the help of the government and the people? Yes! Will it be quick and easy? No!

Jan. 20 is the first day of the next four years of our lives. We must all pull together and work in big, little, out-of-the box and in-the-box ways for a better future for all Americans.

Let's build community, starting with our families and extending to our neighborhoods, states and beyond. An America going in new directions for the good of all the people is at the top of my list for 2009.

-- Sharon Sawhill, Enumclaw

Free indeed

It's difficult to believe that eight disastrous years of Bush/Cheney rule are finally at an end. My God, it's been a long hard slog.

I think I speak for many when I quote Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!"

-- Dave Richards, Bainbridge Island

An ironic farewell

I was hoping for a strong and memorable line in George W. Bush's farewell address and I wasn't disappointed. He said, "Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere."

I just hope that someday he realizes the irony of that statement when applied to Iraq.

-- Dave Richardson, Shoreline

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January 19, 2009 4:21 PM

Farewell to President Bush

Posted by Letters editor

Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

President George W. Bush speaks during his final press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12.

A heartfelt thank you

Editor, The Times:

As President Bush's days wind down, it seems like many are taking their final shots at the administration. Rather than dwell on any mistakes that may have been made, I want to send out a big "Thank you President Bush" for keeping our country safe and secure since 9/11. I appreciate the tremendous efforts made by the different security agencies, as well as the tough choices I know our president made in our best interest.

Also, President-elect Obama's victory is a historic moment for our country. I congratulate him on his victory. We can only hope that he will show the same resolve in protecting the citizens of this great country.

-- Eric Harris, Renton

Undeserved credit

Well, I see President Bush is still using the line, "I kept you safe from outside attack since 9/11." He should have completed the statement with, "But, me and my boys sure attacked you from the inside."

By the way, there were no major volcanoes erupting during the Bush presidency, and we weren't struck by a killer asteroid. Is Bush going to take credit for that too?

-- David McKenzie, Federal Way

Media-driven criticism

President-elect Obama recently decided to retain Robert Gates as secretary of defense, a definitive endorsement of the progress in Iraq. A little over a year ago, President Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld and hired Gates. While his critics cried withdrawal, Bush proposed the opposite: troop surge. The recent silence of Democrats on Iraq surely points to the vindication of Bush's bold decision.

Now Bush's farewell address, "I have followed my conscience." This comes from a president whose decision-making framework was much larger than national sentiment or party politics. In the face of Republican opposition, Bush supported the guest-worker program. He also spent more taxpayer dollars helping the fight against AIDS in Africa than anyone expected.

The president spoke of good and evil in a way that made people from both political parties uncomfortable.

Once Bush leaves office, much of the media-driven criticism will fade away. History will likely forget Bush's 30 percent approval rating.

What will remain is a president with deep convictions, which compelled him to make tough decisions furthering the freedom and faith of the American people. Through the rough, cowboy veneer is a man who earned my respect.

-- Matthew McCleary, Seattle

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January 19, 2009 4:19 PM

An Obama presidency

Posted by Letters editor

Bold, persistent experimentation

Barack Obama will soon be inaugurated as president thanks in large part to the efforts of those of us at the grass roots who, in the primaries, put him on the ballot and afterward got out the vote. We, ardent supporters believe his promise of "change" put on hold our linger doubts about what "change" signified in his mind.

Now come the days of reckoning. We'll soon know what President Obama is made of.

I will not herein dwell upon the multiple threats we face -- threats that are new, immense, and, in some ways, game-ending. Both the global crisis and the crisis of presidential leadership are due at bottom to the continued dominance of an outmoded way of both perceiving and dealing with the issues that confront us.

We need new public policies -- not minor adjustments of the old to make them work a little better -- that will amount to such drastic reversals as to be considered near unthinkable by those who, for a variety of reasons, remain wedded to the conventions of the past. Unless a public philosophy is set out, articulated and promoted as an alternative to the tragically mistake views of the right and this misguided center, we can expect only continued debasement of both society and the biosphere that sustains us.

There is no time to lose. Those of us who believe public office and public lands should not be for sale, national service become a norm of citizenship, health care be considered a collective good and not an individual one, corporations be made accountable to the community, public regain control of the airwaves, and sustainability define our day-to-day use of natural resources respectfully insist attention be paid.

Those of us who think we should protect the vulnerable, the U.N. be liberally supported in its efforts to foster peace, reduce hunger, control population growth and enhance the environmental health of the plant, and that the World court be embraced in its efforts to bring the rule of law and justice to the global setting, respectfully insist attention be paid.

If President-elect Obama wishes our continued support, he must defy the traditional thinkers, professional politicians and corporate interests that, according to reports, are gathering around him.

More than ever before, we need adventurous, new people in government, both knowledgeable and imaginative, who are not afraid to sally forth on new paths just because the paths are new.

The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed during another time of crisis, seem as relevant today as they were in 1932:

"The country needs and unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But, above all, try something."

-- Todd Wexman, Port Townsend

A rainbow coalition

In recent times, we have had the New Deal under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Frontier under John F. Kennedy and the Great Society under Lyndon B. Johnson in order for these presidents to realize their dreams and visions of America.

President-elect Obama's presidential campaign was unique in that he energized and mobilized in great numbers Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others to vote for him in this very historic election.

He was, in essence, successful in putting together a rainbow coalition in America during these very difficult times. The theme of his presidency could be the building of an inclusive society, a society where individuals are embraced with dignity and respect.

Yes, we can.

Obama's will be a visionary presidency based on hope, and, to paraphrase the 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, it is after all with words we govern men.

We are all in this together to make this presidency a success.

Good luck, Obama, and all the best for the next four or more years.

-- Aslam Khan, Seattle

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January 19, 2009 4:17 PM

State budget cuts

Posted by Letters editor

A strange idea of compassion

Sorry, but I really can't buy it when Gov. Christine Gregoire says her recent cuts to social services and education were "compassionate" and that she did it because she "had to." If that is her idea of compassion, I would hate to see what her idea of cruelty is.

Does she "have to" spend billions on projects that serve to line only the pockets of the corporations, who throw dollars at her and our lawmakers? Are tunnels and cars and public works more important than people's lives? Than our children's education?

Although it was privately funded, did Gregoire "have to" hold an inaugural ball and spend a quarter-million dollars on it? I read the governor's inauguration speech, in which she urges each of us to give of ourselves in these troubled times. Wouldn't it have been a good idea to take the money for the inaugural ball and put it back into society?

Why doesn't Gregoire cut her own pay like the management of the organization I work for, so that us ordinary people won't lose our jobs?

Put your money where your mouth is, governor.

-- Jim Wikel, Everett

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January 19, 2009 4:16 PM

Crash-landing on the Hudson River

Posted by Letters editor

Time to step in

Watching the TV-news reports on the plane landing in the Hudson River, I thought about the conservatives' push to cut taxes and minimize government.

All passengers were rescued. By whom? The air traffic controllers (FAA), the New York police and firefighters, the FBI, etc.

In order to find ways to avoid such accidents in the future, the National Transportation Safety Board will spend months studying the crash.

I say, more government "interference," please.

-- Anne Thureson, Renton

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January 19, 2009 4:15 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Can't compare to Canada

The Times article by Akiva Kenny Segan ["Common ground in Gaza begins with a cease-fire," guest columnist, Jan. 15] ignores the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Israelis invaded the land of the Palestinians much as Hitler invaded Poland. They destroyed over 500 Arab villages, unnumbered homes, farms and orchards. They made the lives of Palestinians virtual prison sentences.

The horror of it is our country continues to support the invader, Israel.

President-elect Obama asks what we would do if being bombed by Canada. The simile is inaccurate. We didn't steal Canadian land. A better simile is what the Poles, French and others who were invaded by Hitler, did: They fought back to regain their land -- and we helped them.

There will be no Middle East peace until Israel acknowledges its aggression and recognizes it owes a huge debt to the Palestinians for destroyed property and 60 years in refugee camps.

Civilized people all over the world felt great sympathy for Jews because of the Holocaust. But, the Palestinians had no part in that crime. There is no reason why they should pay for it.

And for Americans, consider the impact upon world opinion, if the U.S. supported justice for the Palestinians instead of the tyranny of the Israelis.

-- Spencer Higley, Edmonds

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January 19, 2009 4:14 PM

Tunnel to replace the viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Potential earthquake disaster

People are missing the point, and thus the mayor and the governor are getting away with murder, perhaps literally.

These politicians tout the fact that the new First Avenue tunnel proposal allows the viaduct to remain in use until the tunnel is finished. This sounds like a huge advantage. But, the whole point is that the viaduct will not survive the next earthquake and we don't know when the earthquake will occur.

Leaving the viaduct as is, unrepaired, not replaced until 2014, exposes us to another five years of imminent peril.

That viaduct needs to be repaired or torn down now. To do otherwise is to expose motorists to an increasing probability of earthquake disaster as time passes.

-- Richard Karnes, Mercer Island

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January 19, 2009 4:12 PM

Sex crimes against children

Posted by Letters editor

Eliminate state criminal statutes

The Washington state Legislature should eliminate the criminal statutes of limitation for sex crimes committed against children.

Our children are being denied equal protection because federal law has eliminated those statutes "during the life of the child, or for ten years after the offense, whichever is longer."

So, children who are molested under federal criminal statutes have no statute of limitations. If, however, they are molested under our state criminal statutes, they are limited in attempting to seek justice. This is not fair because not only do they not have the additional deterrent effect by the elimination of the statutes of limitation, they cannot seek justice when they are able to come forward. After all, they were children when they were molested.

There will be no immediate cost to the state because the law cannot act retroactively, so it only affects cases that occur after the date the governor signs the law. Moreover, experience has shown many of the victims will not come forward until they are in their 30s or 40s, so not until then will those cases begin to enter the criminal-justice system.


-- Don Brockett, Spokane

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January 19, 2009 4:11 PM

Seattle poop-scoop citation

Posted by Letters editor

Pick your battles

You give nearly your whole front page for a ridiculous story ["Dog owner says rules stink," page one, Jan. 15] and picture when hundreds of people are getting killed in Gaza? When we have a historic inauguration coming? Not to mention that this story appears to make this dog owner, Steve Guiling's, problem into something that should be taken seriously?

I live next to Discovery Park and I can tell you there is so much poop and so many off-leash dogs that it is disgusting. In fact, we hardly go there anymore as a result. The off-leashers and the non-poop-picker-uppers are always indignant. I don't have any sympathy for Mr. Guiling and I'm glad he has to pay for breaking the law.

Please, don't use your front page for stories like this -- it is beneath The Seattle Times to do so. I will now turn my attention to more important matters in our world.

-- Jeanne Bremer, Seattle

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January 18, 2009 4:08 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Majed Hamdan / Associated Press

Palestinian firefighters and United Nations workers work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Jan. 15.

Everyone a maven

Editor, The Times:

It seems hardly a day passes where Israel, in its current battle in Gaza, is called upon to engage Hamas in diplomacy. On Jan. 15, The Times delivered an editorial ["As Gaza bleeds"] urging "... the United States to do much more than hold Israel's coat." Meaning, since no one has influence over Hamas militants, put all the pressure on Israel to stop the war.

In the same edition, Akiva Kenny Seagan ["Common ground in Gaza begins with a cease-fire," guest columnist, Jan. 15], a self-described "genocide educator," finds the current support for the Israeli response "seriously misguided."

As my mother used to say, "Everyone's a maven." In other words, one thinks he has all the answers whether or not he is well-informed.

Israel is at war because no country in the world would tolerate unceasing rocket fire on its citizens. Finally, and understandably, Israel's response was "enough is enough." The Israeli government has stated time and time again that it will withdraw its troops from Gaza when an agreement is reached to stop Hamas bombardment and the flow of illegal weapons.

Will Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, comply with those conditions? If you think so, I have a Space Needle for sale I want to show you.

-- Norman Levin, Seattle

A core issue

I write to thank The Seattle Times for accepting the full-page ad from the Arab-American community about Gaza. I am writing this letter on behalf of Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War (SNOW).

Our focus since at least six months before the illegal invasion of Iraq has been that invasion and the illegal occupation of Iraq by the U.S. military. But, we all understand that the occupation of Palestine by Israel, also illegal, is a core issue in the Middle East.

We believe that a just and sustainable peace in this region depends upon the U.S. government playing an evenhanded role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, thank you for printing that ad.

-- John M Repp, Seattle

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January 18, 2009 4:07 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

One third the space

Has anyone noticed that every government proposal to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct has just two lanes in each direction?

The viaduct today has three lanes in each direction and those are overcrowded much of the time. Elevated roadway, surface road or ditch, the future is to cram the traffic into one-third less space.

The only intelligent proposal was the architect-engineer who proposed a double tunnel with two auto lanes and one truck lane in each. But the city fathers' choice goes right along with an early decision to limit the number of lanes on Interstate 5, move the cruise ships from walking distance of downtown and close down the waterfront trolley.

Must not have been enough taxes in tourists, trolleys or commerce.

-- Kerry Edwards, Lynnwood

Tax whack

Now that the deep thinkers have decided on the tunnel option (of course, the most expensive choice) and have begun postulating on where they will "find" the money, I have a couple of questions. I'll keep them very short.

First, who of us living outside of King County believes for a minute that we will not also be whacked with new taxes to supplement this fiasco? Not me.

Second, the proposed design has four lanes instead of the current six. Was I simply hallucinating when this whole "process" began when the directives from the top dictated that no option carrying less traffic than the existing structure would be acceptable? No, I'm certain I remember that particular caveat.

-- Mark Williams, Lynnwood

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January 18, 2009 4:04 PM

National economy

Posted by Letters editor

No different from a private investor

I agree with Danny Westneat's general premise; at first glance the bank's behavior seems quite objectionable ["Bailout trickles up, not down," column, Jan. 14]. However, I do have two main points to make.

The vendors who have agreed to delay payment are probably taking a "futures contract" on the aforementioned Pam Pentz' ability to pay eventually. But exactly how long will they wait? How much in late payment fees might they ultimately require? When will they sue if payment is not forthcoming after a certain extended period of time?

Eventually, if she cannot pay, each of them will have to make this decision. They may be willing to "forbear" immediate payment, but no doubt their patience will eventually be exhausted, each on their own schedule. "Good for it" for a month seems very appropriate, but I doubt six months would be.

Why should a bank be expected to act any differently than a private investor? I suspect that Westneat, despite the current state of the economy, has some money in investments, retirement accounts and college funds (if he has children). I ask him to answer then, please, what exact return, terms and conditions would he require to lend her the money himself? Six percent a year? 10 percent? 20 percent?

Suppose Pentz offered to pay 50 percent interest? 100 percent? Oops. The two of you can't make that contract — usury laws. So, I guess even if there were an informed borrower and lender, the government would help determine which businesses succeed and which fail based on regulation of loan interest.

One of the key issues in the current "crisis" is that many traditional risk models are suspect, but can't be properly adjusted due to the friction of regulation, tradition or indignation informed by emotion, not mathematics.

Why shouldn't Pentz or anyone else be able to offer a loan request on, say, eBay and let the market bid without limit or restriction?

-- Norman Mainer, Redmond

Strong action against global warming

As an avid outdoorsman in Washington state, global warming is a really important issue to me because the increasingly violent weather patterns related to climate change are directly affecting our way of life in the Puget Sound region. We have experienced this recently within the flooding throughout the Puget Sound region.

I'm excited that President-elect Obama has identified global warming and clean energy as top priorities. I hope Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, will let our new president know that the people of Seattle will support him in taking strong action when he takes office Tuesday.

Most importantl, I urge President-elect Obama to commit to cutting emissions by at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This is, consistent with what the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says developed countries must achieve to prevent catastrophic warming.

We've got a historic opportunity in front of us. Now it's time to get to work.

-- Geoff Guillory, Seattle

Want more, pay more

I seems obvious to me: The more the citizens of this country ask the government to do for them, the more it is going to cost. That means more taxes, not a rebate of taxes.

No Virginia, there is no such thing as a money tree. This may come as a shock to many, especially those who bought homes they could not afford or those who ran their credit-card balance to a point they could make the payments.

Any service we ask for must be paid for.

-- Bob Ely, Bellevue

Diesel retrofits, a win-win

As we look for ways to jump-start, "green" our economy and grow jobs at the same time, Congress is considering investing up to $1.5 billion in upgrading and retrofitting existing diesel equipment in order to reduce its air-pollution emissions. This is a proven and cost-effective approach to cleaner air that is shovel-ready should it be included in a stimulus package that builds upon existing efforts in Washington state to retrofit and replace school buses, other public fleet vehicles and diesel engines used at our seaports.

Diesel engines are the workhorse of the economy, building roads and utility infrastructure, bringing folks to work and children to school, and delivering the goods we depend on via our highways, rail lines and local seaports. Thanks to new emissions-control technology, the tens of thousands of existing engines can now be upgraded to improve efficiency and reduce emissions up to 85 percent.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funds a portion of these retrofits and has already delivered proven benefits here through cleaner school buses and port equipment. The retrofit industry is also important to Washington-state workers employed at companies that service, manufacture or use emissions-reduction equipment for their diesel vehicles and equipment.

EPA estimates that DERA generates $13 of economic benefit for every $1 spent on diesel retrofits. The economic-stimulus package offers an opportunity to help scale up diesel retrofitting on a much larger basis, improve local air quality and secure Washington jobs, not just at the manufacturers, but at equipment service and repair facilities, which install and maintain this equipment.

Both industry and clean-air advocates agree: It's a win-win for the economy and air quality. We hope that U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, and the rest of our Congressional delegation will support this important initiative.

-- Dennis McLerran, Seattle

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January 18, 2009 4:02 PM

Digital television conversion

Posted by Letters editor

Expect dropped channels

The impact of digital-TV conversion is more complex than some of the news articles have indicated, and it will hit many consumers' pocketbooks in the midst of these tough economic times. Beyond the population that is using older analog television sets, those like us, who have been happily tuning in with their brand-new, high-definition televisions, could also be impacted.

I have had a high-definition TV for more than two years now and subscribe to Comcast Extended Cable Service without the clutter of a set-top box. Using the tuner in our high-definition TV, we have been able to view local channels, such as KOMO, KING, KONG and FOX that offer high definition.

So, believing Comcast's ads and what we have been reading, we thought we would be all set to go for the conversion. We then found out that between February and November Comcast will start dropping channels over 29 as the digital conversion continues, and eventually every subscriber will need to use a set-top box if they want to receive any channels beyond 29.

The "free" set-top box offered by Comcast to solve this problem, however, prevents us from using our HDTV to access any of the high-definition, local channels. In order to continue to view these local channels in HD, we will need to pay Comcast for a HD converter box and programming.

What some Comcast subscribers end up with in this digital conversion is getting less for the same price.

The only way to maintain the viewing choices and not loose our HDTV investment is to pay Comcast more every month. So much for Comcast's advertising of "Comcast customers don't have to do a thing, you are all set." A Comcast customer service agent told me that he could not understand why I was upset about this because Comcast didn't ask me to go buy the high-definition TV. Some might say it's just smart business on Comcast's part; I say it's another setback for consumers.

Anyone for more government oversight?

-- Janet Rogers, Mercer Island

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January 16, 2009 4:55 PM

Bored tunnel to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Kate Riley

Don't be deluded

Editor, The Times:

Wake up, Seattle!

The tunnel will have only four lanes compared with the six we currently have. There won't be any exits in downtown Seattle compared with the five exits we now have northbound at Columbia, Seneca and Western and southbound at Western and Royal Brougham Way. There won't be any access to Belltown, Magnolia, Ballard or lower Queen Anne without going all the way through to Mercer Street. You won't be able to get into the tunnel from downtown without going all the way south of Safeco Field or north of Denny Way.

And it's the most expensive option. How is this servicing Seattle? You won't even be able to get into the heart of downtown from the tunnel. Those of you who use it daily to get to your jobs downtown will have no option but to travel two miles of surface streets to get to your offices.

Don't be deluded by their proclamations that we'll "reclaim" the waterfront. Alaskan Way and the train tracks that run under the current viaduct will still be there; the same wide expanse of traffic and transit we have now between downtown and the waterfront will still exist. The viaduct will be replaced with more generic condos, not parks or recreation.

The politicians involved are pushing their own personal agendas, have stopped paying attention to the needs and wishes of their constituents and are spending our money recklessly at a time when none of us can afford it. Do something. Make your voice heard. Stop this ridiculous proposal.

-- Heidi Bernave, Seattle

Hybrid option

The whole process to determine the viaduct replacement focused on either a tunnel or an elevated structure. Why not a hybrid leaving the raised viaduct from the south to about Qwest Field and then a tunnel for the remainder of the distance along the waterfront? This would shorten the tunnel portion, save perhaps a half-billion dollars, reduce construction time, upgrade a major part of the waterfront and still preserve some elevated portion for the view.

An added benefit for the long run: If the tunnel proved to be a mistake, there would be less to correct.

-- Robert Mandich, Seattle

Greater capacity than alternatives

There is one aspect of the opposition to a bored tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way that I don't understand. Opponents say it would reduce the capacity of Highway 99 from six lanes to four. But all the other options, including a replacement viaduct, retain the Battery Street Tunnel with four lanes, which would serve as the "pinch point" of the system.

By contrast, the current proposal, as I understand it, has a four-lane bored tunnel plus the existing Battery Street Tunnel connecting to Alaskan Way, a wide boulevard. Thus, the total capacity of the system through downtown Seattle would actually be greater than under the alternatives. In addition it would, of course, open up downtown to the waterfront.

So, other than cost, what's not to like?

-- Donald Padelford, Seattle

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January 16, 2009 4:53 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Kate Riley

Cease-fire, yeah right

In Thursday's special to The Times ["Common ground in Gaza begins with a cease-fire," Times, Akiva Kenny Segan, guest columnist, Jan. 15], the writer claims that to be "truly pro-Israel, urge your political representatives to press the U.S., Israel and Hamas to seek an immediate and total cease-fire."

Let's see what happened during the last cease-fire. Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza continued to fire rockets into Israel and used the time to restock and bring in rockets with a longer range. I don't see that as a good deal for Israel.

Segan continues by saying, " [The cease-fire] must be followed by the heretofore unthinkable: Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority must sit down face-to-face and hammer out a two- or three-state solution."

What a dreamer! Hamas doesn't accept Israel's right to exist and wants to destroy it. They won't talk peace. Period.

How can anyone be so naive to think that just because people think Hamas should seek to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, Hamas would agree? The only reason they agree to a cease-fire is to give themselves time to regroup and rearm.

-- Frank Lippman, Seattle

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January 16, 2009 4:46 PM

National politics: Treasury secretary and torture

Posted by Kate Riley

Special treatment for U.S. Treasury Secretary

So, the nominee for the position of U.S Treasury secretary has disclosed he failed to pay certain taxes from 2001 to 2004 ["Treasury pick explains errors on tax returns," Nation & World, Jan. 14]. The majority Senate Democrats brush this revelation aside as a "minor bump" in the process of confirming Timothy Geithner to a position in the Obama Cabinet.

All non-politicians, which I suppose are the great majority of us, know that if we fail to pay lawful, required taxes, the matter would simply not be dismissed as a slight oversight or inconvenience.

-- Thomas Frey, Kingston

No excuse for torture

I am still waiting for someone to address the fact that the torture of people like the 20th suspected hijacker in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has ruined the possibility for legitimate prosecution. Hundreds of possible, viable cases that could be tried in our courts are muddled and buried in the Bush administration's torture of suspects. It will take years to sort it out, if ever. Meanwhile, they are eligible for release under our rule of law.

I say, good going, Republican apologists and ostriches. The latest ruling on this came from a Republican judge who decides these matters for the political prisoners we are holding, illegally now it seems, and will have to release somewhere. Let's hope it is in the neighborhoods of vice president Dick Cheney and President Bush.

-- James Dunn, Marysville

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January 16, 2009 4:43 PM

Washington state Legislature: Burying pets in people's graves

Posted by Kate Riley

People before pets

After reading "Bill: humans, pets buried in single grave" [Local News, Jan. 14], I have to question state Sen. Ken Jacobsen's reason for being a Washington senator. It appears he has forgotten he was elected by the citizens to serve their interests, not his own.

We have more important issues to act on in the state of Washington. Sen. Jacobsen needs to stop wasting the precious time of our lawmakers.

I can understand the relationship the senator had with his cat, but if every citizen wanted to pass a bill that put their own interests first, we would never accomplish the larger issues affecting more of the population.

-- Kathleen Santti, Mukilteo

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January 16, 2009 4:33 PM

Lawsuit against Seattle University president

Posted by Kate Riley

Tainting a good name

I deeply object to the term "dumping ground" being used in a recent civil lawsuit to describe the remote Alaskan missions served by the Jesuits and the intentions of the Jesuit leadership.

The term besmirches generations of amazing, selfless priests who, in harsh conditions and at great personal cost including their lives, brought protection, dignity and education, as well as spiritual care to an often denigrated people.

As someone whose grounding in life is a result of the Jesuit commitment to Alaska, I admire and am grateful for their historic and ongoing great work in the Great Land. I am sickened that a very few bad priests violated the trust of innocent people; may justice be served and may those lives be healed to a new and better wholeness.

And, may the lives of all those Jesuits and other religious people who anonymously gave all for the good of others and the love of God, be honored and respected.

-- Gail Hawley, Redmond

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January 15, 2009 4:00 PM

A tunnel to replace Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Washington State Department of Transportation

This viaduct-replacement schematic shows stacked two-lane tunnels, which would run mainly under First Avenue to bypass downtown Seattle.

Federal funds first

Editor, The Times:

Why has there been so little mention of using the much-talked-about federal funds for infrastructure and roads on the tunnel and seawall? ["Tunnel extras: $1.4B needed," Times, page one, Jan. 14.]

No one would disagree that the tunnel, if affordable, would display Seattle as one of the most livable cities and tourist destinations in the U.S. The economic benefits of such acclaim would be substantial for at least the next 50 years.

-- Gregg Teslovich, Seattle

Side effects

Seattle leaders have decided on a tunnel under First Avenue as a replacement to the viaduct. While I don't particularly care for the tunnel option, I would approve of it if it met our needs.

The issues I am most worried about:

-- Taking Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard and Crown Hill out of the equation because it will most likely force people who live there to use alternative routes and, as a result, clog up those roads;

-- No exits to downtown and only two lanes in each direction being able to reduce traffic in the tunnel to 65,000 when there is no clear place for the remaining 40,000 to go;

-- Problems that trucking companies may face getting to and from the waterfront. I am worried that this tunnel takes more than a step back in planning for the future growth of the city. Reducing lanes, pushing traffic onto side roads and limiting access to the Port is not the correct approach.

We need an option, whether it is a tunnel or viaduct, that improves access, transit times, etc., and allows for growth.

Trying to say that people in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard and Crown Hill can just use buses or build a light rail from those areas is irresponsible at best. We do not have the proper bus system from those areas now, and the monorail failed because it was too expensive. What part of this doesn't the government understand?

We need a solution that solves the issues and allows for growth. A deep-bore tunnel does not do that.

-- Kristina Falcone, Seattle

Truly world-class

I'm not a Seattle resident, but I am a citizen of Washington state. A tunnel plan will improve the city by opening up the waterfront and increasing tax revenue to improve waterfront-building aesthetics. This will truly make Seattle a world-class city.

-- Scott Wigdahl, Everett

Creating congestion elsewhere

What happened to access for Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia?

No solution to the Alaskan Way Viaduct problem is perfect, but the deep-bore tunnel proposal has an especially glaring deficiency. Fifteenth Avenue West and Elliott Avenue West are the major arterials for all southbound traffic from Ballard, Magnolia, and West Queen Anne.

As now configured, the tunnel will force those of us who live in these neighborhoods to make our way to an often congested Interstate 5, wind through the streets of Queen Anne to Aurora Avenue or face stop-and-go passage through the downtown core to Sodo, West Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma or anywhere else to the south.

The northbound trip will be just as bad. The current Highway 99 entrance and exit at Western Avenue must be maintained in some form.

-- Thomas Dyer, Seattle

Australia did it, so can we

Kudos to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for choosing the tunnel. As an Australian-born U.S. citizen who has lived in the Seattle area since 1973, I have been waiting for the choice you have made.

The enhancement possibilities to the foreshores of Elliott Bay are finally a reality. As a tourist destination, Seattle deserves this choice. The beautiful harbors of Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, B.C., for example, prove that in time this will be the right decision. The plan to build Sydney Opera House was not the most favored use of public money in its day. But the world now appreciates it.

To help defray the cost, consider what is logical: a toll for the use of the tunnel. San Francisco and many other U.S. cities, as well as cities worldwide, have done so with positive results.

Good for you, Mr. Nickels, for making the choice for the future, not just the "now."

-- Roslyn Resch, Snohomish

At the expense of children

It appears that medieval history is unrolling before us. Gov. Christine Gregoire claims we cannot afford to provide medical insurance for children. Too bad. You have asthma, you have to die. Sorry, we don't have the cash.

But hey, when we are talking big business, we can front $400 million in new money (as a down payment) for the new tunnel to replace the viaduct. So what if the voters voted it down. Who do they think they are? So what if it will carry significantly less traffic than today. So what if there are only two lanes in each direction, rather than today's three. So what if the tunnel is built under sea level. So what if the experience in Boston suggests that this project will be significantly over budget, meaning we will all pay a lot more for it.

We can't give children that kind of medical care; they aren't as important as this tunnel.

Why can't the media figure out the real reason this tunnel is being jammed down our throats at the expense of our children?

-- Bob Dickerson, Seattle

Profitable waterfront

I think the tunnel option is the best thing for making Seattle a world-class city. It is shortsighted to only consider the increase in taxes. By removing the elevated highway we currently have, we increase the property values in the area and create a vital waterfront with new stores and new opportunities.

The increased business and commerce will offset any tax increase. In the short run, we pay more taxes; in the long run, we have a beautiful waterfront that we can all be proud of. I think it is more than worth the price.

-- Bryce Mathern, Seattle

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January 15, 2009 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Paralyzed Americans

Israel cannot justify waging war against the entire population of Gaza on the grounds that militants in Gaza are attacking Israel. Over the past 17 days, nearly 1,000 Gazan civilians have been killed -- tantamount to collective punishment under the Geneva Conventions.

But, let's not pretend that Israel's disregard for the welfare and rights of Palestinians is something new. For more than 40 years, Israel has worked continually to occupy and control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Less shocking, but just as unacceptable as recent violence, is Israel's three-year blockade of Gaza, which has severely limited food, water, fuel and medical supplies to enter the region.

As Americans, we can't afford to be paralyzed by sadness at the horror that is occurring. The U.S. backs Israel's military in full knowledge of what will be done with the supplies and funds that we send. We are responsible for what has been happening in Palestine for years and for what is happening in Gaza right now.

It is time for all of us to educate ourselves on this issue and to demand a change in U.S. foreign policy. The tanks, guns and bombs leveled against Palestinians are ours. It's time for us to take responsibility for them.

-- Lisa Neher, Covington

"Hiding among civilians" argument once again

Israel is using the argument that strong military powers always use against weaker powers: They "hide among civilians." The stronger power hopes to shift responsibility for civilian deaths onto the evil and heartless enemy.

When the U.S. and Israel condemn this tactic of "hiding among civilians," they are condemning and betraying their own histories.

On the back of the Massachusetts quarter is a picture of the Revolutionary War minutemen, one of our heroes. But, to the British, they were cowardly terrorists, wearing civilian clothes, hiding their weapons on their farms and perhaps their churches, and firing on and running from British soldiers.

All resistance fighters do this. The Dutch, Norwegian and French resistance, as well as the Warsaw Ghetto fighters of WWII, hid among civilians, as did Menachem Begin and the Irgun during the struggle against British rule in Palestine.

Strong forces always identify weaker forces as terrorists. All sides try to demonize their opponents with half-truths.

Our job as citizens is to use our common sense and knowledge of history to see the essential truth that people everywhere want to love and protect their children. Unscrupulous leaders want us to think otherwise.

-- Bill Distler, Bellingham

More hate, less peace

Israel believes that the more you punish, the more willing people will become to agree with you. But, after this conflict, there will be more hate than ever.

I have no doubts that Palestinian youth will watch and remember. When it's their turn to try their hand at peacemaking, they will remember this violence and their hearts will be hardened.

The conflict has weakened Arab moderates like Egypt and Jordan, setting Middle East diplomacy back years.

Moral high ground, like your virginity, can only be lost once. For Israel, it's too late.

-- Julia Zhan, Bellevue

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January 15, 2009 4:00 PM

National economy

Posted by Letters editor

No spending, no way

In your article on economists in Sunday's Times ["Economists back big spending," business, Jan. 11], you report that Martin Feldstein wants increased spending and suggests replacing military supplies. He is wrong.

Military expenditures are a drag on the economy. They help the civilian infrastructure in no way. It would be the same if goods were produced and then taken out to sea and sunk.

What would help is to reduce military expenditures and then use the saved money on civilian projects.

-- Thomas R. Craig, Bellevue

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January 15, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle school closures

Posted by Letters editor

Dense population demands more schools, not fewer

It was recently discovered President-elect Obama, as an infant, lived on Capitol Hill. His mother took up an apartment on Mercer Street and 13th Avenue and lived there for close to a year while she attended the University of Washington.

It is likely if Obama had stayed, he would have attended Meany Junior High School just a few blocks away.

It's ironic and tragic given the upcoming administration's emphasis on education that Capitol Hill's only junior high is now slated to close. It believe it would be a disgrace and a national embarrassment if we cannot offer one of Seattle's most densely populated communities a middle school, and students are forced to travel outside their neighborhood for schooling.

This places a severe hardship not only on the students, but the parents and families. It rips up the community.

There is no doubt Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Soetoro, chose Capitol Hill and this community as a place to start her family. This school speaks to the diversity of the neighborhood.

This finding perhaps gives some weight to recognizing the importance of schools in diverse communities with single parents and struggling families.

I believe every effort should be made to support what is in the best interest of student education. Closing Meany with its specialized education and art programs will not do that.

Please keep Meany Junior High open and Seattle schools open.

-- Charlette LeFevre, Seattle

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January 15, 2009 4:00 PM

Northwest flooding

Posted by Letters editor

Let the rivers flood

The recent flooding in Puget Sound should serve as a wake-up call to our region's citizens and elected officials. Because so much of the problem arises when buildings occupy floodplains and local governments want development, Olympia needs to step in.

Let's try moving away from flood-prone areas by restricting new development in the 200-year or 400-year floodplain instead of the 100-year floodplain. Then let's move existing people and buildings out of harm's way. That let's the rivers flood, which they are going to do anyway, more safely.

We could also reject Congress' and the Corps of Engineers' dams and levees, relying instead on getting people and buildings out of the way. Levees are great until they fail. Just ask any resident of New Orleans or Centralia.

-- Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts, Seattle

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January 14, 2009 4:01 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement: a tunnel

Posted by Letters editor

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Gov. Christine Gregoire announces the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be replaced with a deep-bore tunnel during a news conference at the World Trade Center in Seattle Tuesday morning. At left is Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels; at right is King County Executive Ron Sims.

Not enough lanes

Editor, The Times:

I believe the decision to build a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct ["Tunnel: A deal, but how to pay?" Times, page one, Jan. 13] is not the best decision for the Seattle area's future. There are only two lanes in each direction, which aren't enough to handle today's traffic and accommodate future increases.

If there is a stalled vehicle or accident, there will be horrendous backups, as experienced by the Evergreen Point floating ridge and Highway 520.

More lanes are needed. It is ignorant for our government leaders to say this is the solution for our future. Heck, it isn't a good solution now.

-- Gary Hamm, Seattle

Dream big, dig big

I am an older New Englander and remember when the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge (formerly called the Mystic River Bridge) was built. I also remember when its fantastic replacement, Boston's "Big Dig," was conceived, constructed and made operational. There are parallels to Seattle: old bridge, new replacement.

To some, the Big Dig took too long and exceeded its budget. I disagree. I supported the bridge because of a better civilized concept: more sports facilities, less war; more museums, less war; more parks, less war; more libraries, less war; more schools, less war and more Big Digs, less war. It's about how we choose to spend our money.

So, here is my advice, Seattle: Look at the waterfront as a very big Big Dig, do it right, cut no corners, create peacetime jobs, solve all the problems, and draw out the potential of beauty that the unique waterfront holds.

Make Boston's Big Dig seem like playing with sand at the beach.

Move Pike Place Market right down along the waterfront, tie in all the transportation systems, put more living space up on the emptied hill, and get ready for Sodo to become another amazing section of the city in the next 10 years.

Run the tunnel from Myrtle Edwards Park through the new Pike Place Market Square, down to the ballparks and Sodo, one block back uphill through Pioneer Square past the museums and performance halls, then over to Belltown and all the way to The Seattle Center. That's only about a half mile from the waterfront.

Seattle can become even more of a world-class city than what it is now. I remember Quincy Market, Scollay Square and the dregs of Boston before the city became what it is today. Maybe Seattleites can't see the tunnel as I do. Perhaps they haven't backed away far enough to see it up close in imagined detail and vision.

Seattle is awesome, but current thinking seems to be "sorta big, kinda not."

I strongly suggest that Washingtonians come to think, "Big, big Big Dig," and hopefully come to appreciate this amazing opportunity for what it is.

-- Robin Hordon, Kingston

I-5 fix instead

I have just a few observations about the new tunnel because I don't want to research it longer than five minutes.

It will supposedly cost $4.25 billion. Nobody believes that, certainly not the politicians supporting it. They just hope it doesn't expand to "Big Dig" proportions.

It will carry less traffic than the current road. Considering current viaduct and Aurora traffic, a majority of those cars don't want to be there; they want to go north or south and avoid Interstate 5.

Has anyone considered taking that $4-10 billion and improving I-5? I moved here 30 years ago and was amazed to see that the main freeway in the state reduces to two lanes at its most critical point, where it joins Interstate 90. If we fix I-5, we won't have to build a tunnel.

-- Jeff Hubner, Bellevue

Most competitive option

I support everything stated in the guest commentary you published Sunday, Jan. 11 by King County Councilmember Larry Phillips ["Putting the viaduct in a tunnel lets city, neighborhoods thrive"]. In it, he supports the decision to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bored tunnel that bypasses the current structure and runs under the city of Seattle.

I suggest two more reasons why this option is best.

First, if compared with the "true cost" of the other options, it may be much more competitive. The true cost must include the following economic disruptions that will occur during the two-year construction project:

-- Businesses in the immediate vicinity that will probably see a dramatic drop off in business -- some most likely going out of business -- as tourists avoid the area;

-- Disruptions to traffic flow through the city, which will probably cause massive traffic jams during rush hours, resulting in lost work hours, employees showing up late for work, and delayed arrival of goods and services.

Although, I expect economists will come up with some very imperfect figures for these disruptions, it would be far more imperfect not to account for them at all.

Second, funding could perhaps be obtained as part of the next federal economic-stimulus plan. This is clearly not a pork-barrel project. If we can get several of our elected officials, namely the governor, senators and representatives, to promote a deep-bored tunnel, it might be possible to get federal support. The iron is hot. Now is the time to get a move on this funding.

-- Roger Douglas, Bellevue

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

Social Security

Posted by Letters editor

Not the problem

Your editorial ["Target: entitlements," Jan. 12] states that Social Security "is heading into a cash deficit in eight years." According to the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), the Congressional Budget Office said Social Security is capable of meeting all of its obligations until 2048 without any changes at all.

CEPR has repeatedly pointed out it will be able to make up for any shortfall by modestly increasing payroll taxes, as it has done several times in the past, but not since the 1980s.

The sky is not falling on Social Security, and you should not be perpetuating the myth that it is. The myth is propagated by conservatives opposed to any kind of government anti-poverty program and who want to divert people's retirement savings into the stock market, which is demonstrably much less reliable than Social Security.

The real entitlement problem, as CEPR also points out, is Medicare's and Medicaid's ridiculously inefficient and overpriced health-care system based on overpaid doctors, pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies.

Dealing with entitlements will entail reducing the profits of these industries, not squeezing the poor.

-- Chris Nielsen, Shoreline

Running surpluses, not a cash deficit

Have you no shame? Bernie Madoff is a piker compared to what you make of the U.S. Treasury. You conveniently omitted a number of facts from your editorial.

Social Security, at $2.5 trillion, is the number-one holder of National Debt obligations. You state, "It is heading into a cash deficit in eight years." You omit that it has been running surpluses since 1983 and is currently subsidizing the general-fund deficit to the tune of more than $200 billion per year.

Eight years from now, when payments exceed tax receipts, payments will still be less than the total of tax receipts plus annual interest earned. We are expected to remain this way for the following seven years. Social Security is forecast to hold about $4 trillion of Treasury debt. It is counting on those holdings to finance its obligations through 2042.

If you are advocating that Social Security write off its holdings as uncollectable, then say so. No Congress or administration, whether Republican or Democratic, is willing to make this admission. (Remember the "lockbox?") Instead, they are pointing the finger of blame at the institution whose regressive taxes have enabled their profligate deficit spending.

If Social Security is prevented from accessing its Treasury holdings and forced to continue this subsidy, what does this say about the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government, and how is it different from a de facto default on the national debt?

I expect the Fourth Estate to hold politicians' feet to the fire on this issue, not to aid and abet them in this chicanery.

-- Chris Curry, Bellevue

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

National economy

Posted by Letters editor

Growth from enterprise, not spending

It is important for The Times to present differing viewpoints, but I would think more care would be taken to choose letters for publication that contribute to a discussion, not perpetuate misinformation. Jonathan Ryweck ["Smart investments," NW Voices, Jan. 11] wrote, "Just as Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal projects … created real, long-term wealth that we are still enjoying 70 years later…" even though no reputable economist I have ever heard says this statement is true.

Roosevelt spent a lot of money, but only the need to produce weapons for a world war lifted us out of the Depression. After the war, good-old free enterprise created a growing economy and a standard of living unmatched in the world. Government spending had little to do with it.

My fear is that every spending program, large and small, that anyone has ever thought of will be included in the list projects to will "jump-start" the economy. I am not expert enough, and neither is Ryweck, to know which programs will get the economy growing and which are just on the liberal wish list. But, I know that the list we are seeing now will result in a huge increase in debt that our great grandchildren will pay for the next 70 years.

-- Henry Kroeger, Redmond

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

Children's health care

Posted by Letters editor

The governor's promise

Gov. Christine Gregoire won my vote in 2004 with her promise of universal health care for all children in Washington state by 2010. She locked in my 2008 vote in 2007 when she signed the Cover All Kids Bill. It was one of those rare moments when the hope that accompanies a daring pledge starts to feel like reality.

I understand our state faces daunting budget challenges. But stepping back on this promise is not the way to solve them ["Goal to insure all kids could fall to budget ax," page one, Jan. 11].

We have a $5 billion deficit and the governor's answer is to cut needy children from the state's Basic Health Plan and limit access to those not yet covered? That's no answer; it's a shortsighted travesty that will make these hard times harder for everyone.

Gregoire's proposal to ax a quarter of a billion dollars from the state's insurance plan for low-income kids is not only a grievous breech of voter trust, it's an unacceptable breech of leadership.

Leaving nearly 80,000 children uninsured in Washington will only serve to drive up insurance costs -- for the state, for employers and for those of us who can still afford to pay for it privately -- as more and more families turn to emergency rooms in lieu of low-cost primary care. It is the very definition of the phrase "penny smart, pound foolish."

I understand the challenges of the current recession. But reneging on a promise to take care of our most valuable asset for a prosperous future, our kids, is disgraceful. Balancing any budget on the backs of the poor is unjust, especially in times of economic crisis. And especially when there are other, more just and equitable solutions.

The governor and our state lawmakers must consider all options. At the very least, before taking asthma medicine away from a child such as Sarah McIntyre, ask me, the voter, if I'd rather see the governor break her promise to kids or her no-tax stance.

-- Cheryl Murfin, Seattle

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Truth not communicated with media blackout

I was shocked by Charles Krauthammer's article ["Allow Israel to complete its dismantling of Hamas," syndicated columnist, Jan. 11], in which he effectively endorses the continued eradication of the people of Gaza.

He suggests that Israel should finish the job of dismantling Hamas' infrastructure, but he fails to mention that Israel is using unprecedented violence in its campaign against Hamas, which has resulted in the loss of around 900 lives, almost a third of whom, according to the U.N., are civilians.

Would this loss of civilian life be acceptable against any other people? Is there any cost that would be too high in Krauthammer's opinion for Israel to achieve its political objectives?

Israel has targeted U.N. schools, which according to the U.N. were sheltering only civilians. The Red Cross has reported that Israeli troops are purposefully targeting its ambulances. Israel has imposed a total media blackout denying entry to all international reporters into the Gaza Strip, a practice which started many months ago, resulting in zero English-language reporters in the region.

With this complete media blackout, people like Krauthammer can ignore the Israeli genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and advance their arguments for the continuation of this maniacal aggression.

-- Khaled Boulos, Seattle

One-sided coverage

It has been 18 days and Israel has been committing war crimes in Gaza under the name of fighting terrorism. Please give this side of the story more coverage. The media have been giving Israel excuses for killing more than 900 and injuring more than 4,000. What kind of world do we live in now?

-- Ala Hassan, Redmond

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

Northwest weather

Posted by Letters editor

Call for common sense

What a relief to read Clifford F. Mass' words ["A rational response to extreme weather," guest columnist, Jan. 13]. He is a breath of fresh air (pardon the weather pun) and demonstrates common sense.

Will public officials please take heed? Comprehensive and coordinated development policies, emergency-response plans grounded in reality, and common-sense management by our leaders will go a long way toward mitigating the panic and disaster that ensue each and every time we have a relatively predictable weather event.

-- Hannah Kimball, Bellevue

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January 14, 2009 4:00 PM

U.S. auto industry

Posted by Letters editor

Do as the Chinese do

Today I read about the pathetic Detroit Auto Show ["Big Three selling optimism at start of Detroit Auto Show," business, Jan. 12] and its anemic exhibitors who are crying about not being able to design efficient cars. I also read about China's new plug-in hybrid electric car that can go 60 miles without using one drop of gasoline. It costs only $22,000 and will be sold here beginning in 2010.

The article about the Chinese car quoted its manufacturer as saying that an electric car is easier to build, and therefore quicker to be put on the market to start selling. So, why is the only thing we hear from American carmakers is one long, continual whine about why they can't do the same thing the Chinese are doing?

Congratulations to Chinese carmakers for doing at the drop of a hat what American carmakers say is impossible. If I could afford it, I would be the first person in line to buy the new Chinese car when it arrives in the U.S.

Good riddance to American carmakers. The sooner they are gone, the better.

-- Jay Kridner, Seattle

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January 13, 2009 4:01 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Cars in the basement,
citizens on top

Washington State Department of Transportation

The south terminus of the proposed tunnel would be near the SODO stadiums.

Editor, The Times:

Just looking alongside the elevated [Alaskan Way Viaduct], all one sees are dirty tired buildings, covered in decades of soot and neglect. This is what a new elevated roadway promises, too. A tunnel, opening up the city to the Sound, will promote a vibrant edge where windows are battened and unopened now. ["Tunnel: A deal, but how to pay?" Times, page one, Jan. 13.]

How can a serious city planner support a proposal that replaces the breezes on the Sound with fumes and the roar of traffic and accidents? How can we as a culture elevate cars and denigrate ourselves? Cover ourselves in grime and block off the views of the Port, the Olympics and the water?

Remember, no matter how expensive the tunnel, the benefits in access to the Sound will outnumber it; the rise in real-estate values and taxes to the city will pay for it; we all will be proud of our waterfront and the linkages between the urban and the natural environment.

Portland's downtown had a renaissance after tearing down the elevated roadway. San Francisco destroyed its elevated roadway after earthquake damage. There are precedents. We can improve our city by putting the cars in the basement and our citizens on top.

The Sydney Opera House cost $140 million, an astronomical sum back then. Yet now, the world over, it is a symbol of the whole country, for visitors and its citizens alike. Long after the hand-wringing about price is over, will we be proud of the roadway, or will we have "settled" for a "cheaper alternative" that doesn't change a thing?

-- John Richards, Tacoma

We already said no

Wasn't it just a few years ago that "we the people" voted no on the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct?

Well, once again the political powers that be have decided "we the people" can't make decisions of any importance and made their decision that the tunnel was the right choice and the bill for their great plan will be shoved down our already gagging overtaxed throats.

Gee, its wonderful to be part of a democracy here in King County and Washington state, where votes count only if Gov. Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and their royal courts approve.

-- Jeanne Read, Seattle

Yes to the tunnel

I am in complete agreement with King County Councilmember Larry Phillips regarding the subject "Putting the viaduct in a tunnel lets city, neighborhoods thrive" [guest column, Jan. 11]. Our commitment to the region will play out over the next 56 years as it has in the past 56 years.

We must come up with a replacement that addresses the problem -- make that, the opportunity to create what our children will have to live with -- now. I side with you completely regarding getting it done right this time.

-- Wayne Lubin, Seattle

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Children's health care

Posted by Letters editor

Arbitrary tax breaks

On Jan. 10, The Times presented two sides of the same coin about the budget shortfall ["Goal to insure all kids could fall to budget ax," Times, page one].

The story tells that low-income children's health-care programs are facing severe cuts. The report paraphrases Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, saying about children, "They're cheaper to insure, and keeping them healthy now pays financial dividends later."

On the editorial page, The Times takes another view. "In session: legislation by a thousand cuts" and "A state out of money and also out of time" [editorials, Jan. 11] both claim that because the state has an immediate and serious budget shortfall, the editorial board advocates no expansion of health-care coverage for children, but no increase in taxes and no elimination of tax breaks.

The Economic Opportunity Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public-policy institute has studied the state tax structure. Their briefs on tax breaks show that Washington state had 567 tax exemptions on the books as of 2007. A 2008 analysis by the Washington Department of Revenue shows 302 of these exemptions saved business and individuals roughly $15 billion (yes, billion) in state and local taxes in the 2007-09 biennium.

So, there must be sacrifices in children's health care and teachers' pay, but no sacrifices by business?

-- Mary Ann Leskie, Tacoma

Insure children, ensure us all

Reneging on the promise to provide health insurance to all kids will have serious unintended consequences we will all pay for. Let's follow what's likely to happen to Sarah McIntyre as a good example ["Goal to insure all kids falls to budget ax," page one, Jan. 11].

As a child with asthma and a prior history of heart disease, if she does not receive her medications on schedule and skips doctor visits, it is only a matter of time before she will be rushed to the emergency room in severe respiratory distress. The medical bills from that ER visit and the resulting days of hospitalization will be costly. Her parents will be faced with possible bankruptcy if they try to pay the bills, or the hospital will have to write off its costs as charitable care (which raises the cost of care for all insured patients).

One way or another, we taxpayers will end up paying more for kids like Sarah. She'll pay the cost in unnecessary suffering, her parents will pay by losing whatever they have managed to save, and taxpayers will pay for more expensive emergency care than would have been necessary if Sarah received better medical insurance.

Wouldn't it be better, not just for Sarah and her parents, but for all of us, to pay the lower per-child cost of covering regular medical care and prescription medications for all children?

-- Sarah Weinberg, M.D., Mercer Island

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Northwest flooding

Posted by Letters editor

Risky relocation

Your front-page article in the Sunday Times [" 'We'll never live by water again,' " Jan. 11] makes me ask myself a question: Don't the same rivers overflow their banks every year? I'm not sure, but no new rivers are being made, right? So, I'm going to go out on a limb and figure it's the same ones flooding year after year.

If that's the case, then doesn't it stand to reason that the same neighborhoods and business districts would be affected time and time again? Blow me down via hurricane, rescue me with a row boat because of flooding, or tell me that an area I might buy a house in is hit with tornadoes and you won't see me living there.

I only have a high-school education, but I'm guessing the following areas would also be bad places to think about relocating:

-- The base of a mountain that frequently has avalanches;

-- Next to an existing airport;

-- Right by a freeway;

-- The middle of the Mojave Desert;

-- The Antarctic;

-- Insert your idea here.

We hear these same stories every year, whether it's flood, hurricane or tornado season. Maybe it's time we ban people from living in these areas.

Nah, that makes too much sense. Besides, I'm guessing the insurance companies wouldn't like the idea.

-- Steve Drake, Seattle

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Gaza war

Posted by Letters editor

Time for change

Charles Krauthammer would abandon American interests in order to save Israel from its own self-destructive policies ["Allow Israel to complete its dismantling of Hamas," syndicated columnist, Jan. 11]. His idea is to inflict so much death and pain on Gaza that Hamas will not be able to rule. Death and destruction has not worked for 60 years. There is no reason to think it will work now.

However, Krauthammer does clearly state the grossly misguided U.S. and Israeli policy toward Palestinians. Israel and the U.S. brought on the war in Gaza by imprisonment, torture, blockade, deprivation and assassination of Palestinians. Israel and the U.S. now use Hamas rockets as a pretext to exterminate Hamas and other Palestinians.

No one has killed more innocents in the Middle East in recent years than the United States in Iraq, and Israel in Lebanon and Palestine.

The U.S. and Israel demand that Hamas renounce violence, respect previous Palestinian agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist. The world would be vastly better off if the U.S. and Israel renounced their own violence, their own violation of international agreements and their denial of the Palestinians' right to exist.

Israel and the U.S. require Hamas to concede everything before negotiations; Israel and the U.S. are required to concede nothing. As a consequence, there is little choice for Palestinians except abject submission or resistance and war, which the U.S. and Israel seem to prefer in any case.

America is in serious trouble economically and internationally. We seem to have recognized the need for change is some areas. We need desperately to change our policy in the Middle East. If Israel and its lobbyists in the U.S. object, let them find another patron.

-- Malcolm McPhee, Sequim

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Husky Stadium

Posted by Letters editor

On their own

It is absolutely disgusting that the University of Washington is lobbying for tax funds to pay for any part of a new Husky Stadium ["Huskies may use Qwest Field in 2010," local news, Jan. 12].

As the Seahawks have already given permission to use Qwest Field in the future, there is no reason to rebuild an on-campus stadium until the UW can pay for it all by itself.

In these trying times, the majority of the population is struggling and won't be getting a bail out. If UW educators are supposedly building the leaders of our future, they are setting a bad example by asking for and expecting a handout for this unnecessary stadium.

-- Ted Calvert, Seattle

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Gay marriage

Posted by Letters editor

Not worthy of front-page coverage

Your lead story in the NW Sunday Section ["Activists pin hopes on Obama," local news, Jan. 11] was about same-sex marriage advocates and a failed rally on Capitol Hill. The article described a small gathering that had about one-tenth the attendance that was expected.

Had this rally been over some other issue, it would have warranted a paragraph on the back page of the local news section. But, The Times gives it front-page, above-the-fold coverage. In reality, the headline should have read: "Failed rally demonstrates lack of support for same-sex marriage."

If you are going to push an agenda, please be more explicit.

-- Mark Morden, Seattle

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January 13, 2009 4:00 PM

Bike tabs

Posted by Letters editor

Tax for biker minority

You are 100 percent correct in proposing a bike tax in Seattle ["Tale of two cycling cities, Chicago and

Honolulu," James Vesely column, Dec. 14].

The gas tax and general fund have been providing millions of dollars for bike lanes and paths to be used by a small, but vocal, minority of citizens.

It is about time the bike riders participated in paying for the facilities they enjoy.

-- Walter Appel, Lynnwood

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January 12, 2009 4:00 PM

Northwest flooding

Posted by Letters editor

Chris Joseph Taylor / The Seattle Times

All signs point to water along Jackson Gulch Road off Interstate 5, just north of Highway 530 near Stanwood.

Destructive behavior

Editor, The Times:

After reading Danny Westneat's column Sunday ["The beaver just can't leave river," Times, Jan. 11], I wanted to scream. The latest example of why Karl Marx said capitalism cannot survive is provided by the federal government underwriting those who continue to choose to live in floodplains.

We are voluntarily writing yet another chapter in our collective epitaph when we allow such programs, enabling the misguided to practice destructive behavior.

-- Joseph Faulkner, Gig Harbor

Escape the excess

With a keen interest I read the column in Saturday's paper titled "Steps we should take before the next flood" [Dan Siemann, guest columnist, Jan. 10]. There are two main points in this piece.

On the later point, it goes without saying that the current and well-established policy regarding federal flood insurance is flawed. Through the law of "unintended consequences," it has greatly reduced the risk incurred by those who chose to build, live and work in the floodplain. Therefore, over the past few decades we have seen an enormous expansion of both residential and business growth in these vulnerable flood-prone areas. To this point, I agree there needs to be a significant change to this policy to reverse this costly and risky societal behavior, and move people to higher ground.

Regarding the first point about global warming, the assumption that the use of "cap and investment," the so-called carbon-credit system, is the best solution overlooks the fact that it unintentionally allows for the worst of polluters -- the producers of vast amounts of released carbon dioxide -- to continue that course as long as they are willing to pay someone else to "do the right thing" and reduce their use. In basic terms, this type on policy allows affluent businesses and individuals to pay the less affluent to be their proxy in lowering their carbon emissions. This is an example of our unique, American need to live in excess, the elitist idealism that we are deserving of whatever excesses we can afford.

A better approach is for every individual and business to be held accountable for their own contribution to the reduction of waste and excess. Let's have the leaders of our society, elected officials and affluent members, lead by example.

Rather than pay our neighbors to do the right thing for us, let's take a serious look at our carbon footprint and associated consumption of precious resources. Let's hold each other accountable for reducing the footprint we all are responsible for.

Some simple, although painful, steps in the short term:

Shut down the use of coal as a source of power in the Pacific Northwest, where it is by no means our only option.

Raise the tax on all petroleum-based fuels to force the research and development of less impactful options.

Easier steps for the individual are to drive less, ride the bus whenever possible or stop buying mega-houses where, in many cases, the occupants have five or 10 thousand square feet each.

Buy local produce that has not been shipped or flown in from South America.

Park the gas-guzzling vehicles like the Hummer; sport-utility vehicles are not required for travel from the hills of Redmond or Issaquah to your job in Seattle or Bellevue.

Turn off lights, bring your own cup to work and, for that matter, a plate and silverware too.

The list is short if we all just stop the maddening rush to collect "stuff," and apply our collective brainpower to the simple and powerful philosophy: reduce, reuse and recycle.

-- James Becker, Fall City

Song of agreement

Thanks to The Times and the writer of a very informative article on the repeated flooding of our area ("When disaster becomes routine," page one, Jan. 12). In the words of songwriter Joni Mitchell, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

-- Tom Likai, Shoreline

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January 12, 2009 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Crimes against humanity

As Israel claims self-defense and launches acts of aggression against its neighbors in Palestine and as the death toll in Gaza rises above 700, including more than 130 children, Israel cannot hide the fact that this is "systemic genocide."

Furthermore, the United States is complicit in this despicable act not only by supplying the bulk of Israel's weaponry, but also U.S. military personnel on the ground.

Therefore, the peace community, government officials, religious groups and other institutions, in solidarity with the Palestinians and Israelis opposed to war, need to stand up and call for immediate termination of these crimes against humanity.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "It is not enough to say, 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it."

-- Charles Law, Bellingham

Religious rage

Hamas hates Israel because their interpretation of the words of their God, Allah, tells them to. Israel, a Jewish nation, is told by their God that they are specially chosen to be there.

Two different gods, two different religions. This is the root cause of this war.

As an atheist, I shake my head in disbelief as two groups fight over whose imaginary friend is right. If atheism and scientific humanism could replace theism and religion, I'd wager we'd see a lot less war.

Remember religionists, you're going to be hearing a lot more from us atheists because from now on, we're out of the closet and ready to talk.

--Jeff Jared, Kirkland

Too much coverage

I don't believe what Israel is doing in the Gaza Strip is right or even in Israel's best interest, but I have been stunned by how much coverage this conflict has received in the media. Similar loss of civilian life in Iraq, Chechnya and even Darfur have hardly been mentioned by comparison.

I'm not saying don't cover the war in Gaza, but let's keep it in perspective. Why is everyone focusing so much attention on the actions of a tiny nation? Is it coincidence that Israel is most populated with people who have a long history of being unfairly blamed?

I don't think so.

-- Peter Gruenbaum, Seattle

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January 12, 2009 4:00 PM

State education cuts

Posted by Letters editor

Immigrant students suffer

I am an ESL teacher at Renton Technical College. I realize we are currently in a state of crisis because of the grim economic situation, but I hope that there are no further cuts to the already deeply cut basic-studies departments of local colleges. It is in these departments that the local immigrant population is working hard to better their skills in order to become productive, active members of our community.

In the last 20 years, I have taught in various college classrooms. The ESL students at Renton Technical College are the most earnest, enthusiastic students I have ever worked with. If you wonder how important these courses are to them, please consider the fact that they are taking the three-hour classes for no credit, at the beginning or end of a long workday, without recognition.

Most people don't realize how difficult the English language is. Someone's accent stands out to us more than the fact that they have just strung together a coherent sentence. A missing "the," "a" or "r" that sounds like an "l" makes us think the speaker doesn't speak English well.

We don't often think about what it took to get to this point: overcoming differences in our pronunciation and the pronunciation of other languages, difficult article usage, sentence structure and a myriad of idioms speakers must learn.

For the many immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as adults, language mastery is that much harder. And for almost all of them, it must be tackled "after hours."

Already, both the short-term and long-term effects of these cuts will be felt in the community and work force for years to come. Immigrants of all backgrounds will be forced to work in jobs below their capacity, important bridge-building and communication skills will decrease, and the multicultural world we live in will become even more factionalized.

I realize decisions are extremely difficult now. But in the current economic climate, classes in the basic-studies department should be growing, not decreasing. These classes teach the skills that are the basis for building a competent, vibrant work force.

You probably talk to or buy something that is made by an immigrant nearly every day. The benefits of ESL are far-reaching and affect virtually every person living in this area and beyond.

-- Elizabeth Falconer, Renton Technical College

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January 12, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle Public Schools

Posted by Letters editor

Stability and security, not mobility

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson evidently thinks the public supports her school-closure proposals and the Seattle School Board will approve them. I think she is mistaken and urge the Board to vote no.

The more people learn about the ramifications and impacts of the proposed closures, the more they oppose them.

Goodloe-Johnson was quoted Thursday morning as saying the district "would need to make sure the move didn't disproportionately affect students living in poverty and students who already are struggling in school." The topic was high schools. She doesn't seem to have this concern about closing schools now.

The majority of students at the African American Academy, T.T. Minor, Meany and Cooper are poor (eligible for free and reduced lunch) and of color. Under the proposed closure plan, more than 3,000 students, disproportionately poor and of color, would need to change schools.

But stability and security are central to academic gains among at-risk students, while mobility is highly associated with no gains. This sounds like a recipe for failure. The costs to children are too high and the theoretical dollar savings too low.

If the future is like the past, up to 20 percent of displaced students will leave the district, and the cost in lost revenue will offset a substantial part of the estimated savings.

The alternative: Put the whole process on hold while the district and the community do a more thorough analysis, including the new school-assignment plan.

Improve the schools and market them; don't have a "going out of business sale." Lobby or sue the state Legislature to provide full funding. The state constitution says it is the "primary duty" of the state to provide for the education of its children, but this is not being enforced.

Washington state students are about 45th among the 50 states in per-student funding. If Seattle schools received the funding to which they are entitled, the district would have a surplus, not a deficit.

Meanwhile, don't make the neediest children pay the price!

-- Jonis Davis, Seattle

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January 12, 2009 4:00 PM

Politics and the economy

Posted by Letters editor

Not a spectator sport

It is inconceivable to me that the representatives who promoted Republican ideology of lowering taxes, spending billions on pre-emptive wars and bailing out Wall Street and the banking system with no accountability, would still have the ability to get in the way of true economic recovery. These people are a joke, yet the majority in the U.S. House and Senate will allow them to railroad our recovery.

Nothing is going to "trickle down." It is a stupid argument couched in sophistry. Make no mistake, these people will use anything to promote their agendas. They will lie about the past and sell us snake oil. Their record can be seen all around us.

C'mon fellow citizens, it is time to speak up. Read your history, stop listening to the pundits (right and left), get a true understanding of what is happening now and do your duty as a citizen. Democracy is not a spectator sport. We need to make a stand.

The U.S. faces the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. Just how deep we go and how long the recession lasts depends upon how quickly we take steps to counter it. Contact your representatives. Speak up.

-- Mark Barabasz, Hansville

Buy time

As was announced in the past couple of days, Boeing is laying off 4,500 employees ["Boeing to cut 4,500 workers," page one, Jan. 10] and The Seattle P-I is up for sale ["Report: Stage set for P-I to close," page one, Jan. 9]. This is in addition to 2.6 million job losses in 2008, the most since 1945.

More than 300 leading economists agree with President-elect Obama that Congress needs to immediately pass a significant and broad-based economic-recovery package.

Already, conservatives who looted the Treasury for the past eight years are whining about the cost of saving this country's economy. Let them take their tax cuts and buy some time out.

Americans showed them the door Nov. 4, and unless we see a different approach to families in this country, it will be generations before that door is cracked open at the polls again.

-- Sandra Robbins, Seattle

Illogical spending

The media attempt to disguise the growing recession -- soon-to-be depression -- in euphemistic phrases that belie its deadly potential to abort the great American experiment. The underlying cause of the crisis can be expressed in two words: easy credit.

Universal, easy credit was the culprit that precipitated the disaster. When President-elect Obama declares, "We will spend our way out of this," I nearly die laughing. We will spend our way out of this? That has to be the oxymoron of the century. How does one spend one's way out of debt? Logic says the more a debtor spends, the more deeply he finds himself in hock.

The Marxists have struggled long and hard to bankrupt the American economy as the final step toward overthrowing the United States republic. Now that the conspirators' dream has finally come to fruition, the gullible suckers who fell for the robber barons' scam are living in denial.

However, it is only a matter of time until John and Jane Doe wake up and discover themselves in a two-class society of stinking-rich masters and their dirt-poor slaves. Consult Forbes' list of billionaires, and you will know the names of everyone whom you can thank for your loss of freedom and treasure.

The middle class is dead. It is all over -- except for the funeral and burial.

-- Warren Wilson, Kirkland

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January 11, 2009 6:03 AM

Northwest flooding

Posted by Letters editor

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

The White River Estates near the White River in the town of Pacific is flooding due to water being released from a dam upriver. Headed out is resident Christian Guerra.

Not surprised

Editor, The Times:

Upon reading the Times' Jan. 9 coverage of the ongoing flooding ["Washout," Times, page one], I am shocked but not at all surprised. Three main points come to mind.

First, how can people living on the banks of rivers (as epitomized by the front-page photo) expect not to be flooded? Is some part of the term "floodplain" not clear?

Secondly, our region's rapidly growing population spurs unwise land management, altering watersheds in ways that reduce rainwater infiltration and increase surface runoff.

Finally, as humans continue to influence the global climate, experts predict that Western Washington will experience increased precipitation with more falling as rain than snow. In short, get used to it.

-- C. Thomas Schaefer, Seattle

Save our salmon

With the recent "once in a century" rainstorm and snow melt, I am concerned that the huge inflow of fresh water will desalinate Elliott Bay and the Puget Sound to the point of extreme stress for wildlife, especially salmon.

Who can possibly know how many salmon will be lost as the Sound's salt level drops precipitously?

Will Mayor Greg Nickels please help us save our salmon? Will he please have the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) take all the salt it didn't use during the snow storm and dump it into the Puget
Sound to restore salinity levels? We love our salmon and Nickels can help.

Let our battle cry be: "SOS, SOS: Save our Salmon, Salt Our Sound."

-- Lynn Schmeichel, Lacey

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January 11, 2009 6:02 AM

The Catholic Church and politics

Posted by Letters editor

Guide for the flocks

I am writing in response to the article co-written by Terrence Carroll and Sam Sperry ["Churches and politics: conscience or dogma?" guest column, Jan. 8]. When I see or hear comments such as this by so-called "born and raised Catholics," I feel compelled to attempt to set the record straight.

The single most important issue for Roman Catholics in this recent election cycle is abortion. All other issues are secondary, make no mistake about it.

When we are talking about our government legalizing and supporting the monthly slaughter of more than 4,000 human beings in the womb, or worse, during birth, one either agrees with this pro-abortion, secularist position, or one adamantly disagrees with it. There is no in-between for a true-practicing Roman Catholic.

Abortion is a hideous evil and the church is charged with teaching this truth to believers.

Carroll and Sperry may have been "born and raised" Catholics, but they obviously were never educated as Roman Catholics. When they state there should be dialogue and not threats, they most likely mean that some way, some how the bishops were to acquiesce and agree with them. They called it "nothing more than raw attempts at bullying."

Since high-profile, so-called Catholics such as congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and many others refuse to abandon their position on abortion, and the Democratic Party is solidly pro-abortion, bishops had no choice but to be very clear and passionate about what is at stake. The bishops are charged with the moral guidance of their "flocks."

Moreover, through Apostolic Procession (Holy Orders) they have the authority to provide the only valid Eucharist for practicing Roman Catholics, and can set rules regarding the moral consequences of a grievous sin, such as abortion. There is no equivocation regarding abortion; it is a grievous sin and simply cannot be compromised.

To vote for people who are clearly pro-abortion, and to think there are no moral consequences, is simply the rationale of our culture. It has nothing to do with moral certitude.

Roman Catholicism is not a social experiment and the moral values taught by the church are not feel-good platitudes. They are sometimes difficult to accept, but they are nonetheless a requirement.

If the "secular" Catholics, as noted above, have the courage of their convictions, they should leave the church, rather than take the juvenile position of demanding that the church change to suit their wishes. I would rather they have a change of heart and stay. However, to continue to defy church teachings sends a seriously false message to the population: Never mind church authorities, just make your own rules. What do they know anyway?

-- Mike Spengler, Seattle

Religion divides, politics unite

Terry Carroll and Sam Sperry discuss the relationship of religion and politics, but fail to mention their fundamental incompatibility.

Religion is one of the most divisive forces in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. told us that America is never more segregated than at 11 a.m. on Sunday. That is, of course, the standard meeting time for most churches in America.

Each congregation believes that its one true faith binds the members together as a community. And it teaches on Sunday morning that all other religions are defective in some fashion and its members misguided. The social purpose of religions is to bind the community together as a unit and, at the same time, separate it from all other communities.

Politics in America, at least in the Democratic Party, does exactly the opposite. It brings together people from any and all communities to pursue common goals. Matters of religious doctrine are never part of our political discussions because doctrinal differences would divide, rather than unite, us.

Thus, within the Democratic Party one can find members of every denomination from every religion. The party is composed of people from every economic category, every level of education, every ethnicity and so on through our highly diverse society. Religions thrive by openly talking about their differences with others; within the Democratic Party we minimize our differences to avoid excluding anyone who considers himself or herself a Democrat.

The Democratic Party has long believed in a complete separation of church and state not because of some distaste for religious belief, but because it believes that politics based on religious belief cannot avoid discrimination, leading ultimately to disenfranchisement.

Better, we think, to leave all religion out of politics and keep all people in.

-- Jeff Smith, Bellevue

Not a popularity contest

The comments of these two "Catholic" gentlemen do not surprise me, considering their backgrounds.

They are products of the Vatican II generation and, more than likely, admirers of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Their railing against the authority of Rome certainly brands them as staunch supporters of "Amchurch."

They seem to believe that the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church is not the only source of truth, but that truth can also be arrived at through consideration of a variety of opinions and dialogue. It is also clear they believe the laity should be involved in this process. They want a democratic process where the bishops bow to the will of the majority.

Well, the Catholic Church is not a democracy and truth is not negotiable. If one is a Catholic, one accepts the teachings of the church. If one cannot do that, then it is time to look for another religion. Don't expect Rome to stop teaching the truth just to be popular with the world.

-- John Leventis, Newcastle

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January 11, 2009 6:02 AM

National politics

Posted by Letters editor

"Elect" not necessary

It is clear that President-elect Obama is now, in fact, the president. The current White House occupant has virtually disappeared in the face of the overwhelming economic recession/depression largely created by his own irresponsible deregulation and (aided, of course, by Clinton, Bush I, and Reagan's previous deregulation policies). The plan appears to have only Obama show his face during the rapidly deteriorating economic crisis, while Bush and Cheney retreat silently and scot-free.

Obama may have to kill a few sacred cows along the way, including the Ponzi-like Social Security and Medicare schemes, which are clearly unsustainable as currently administered. Beyond that, there must be major re-regulation, wherein the regulators must be kept distant from those whom they regulate.

Today's (and yesterday's) regulatory environment allowed them to regularly sit down together, become good friends, and funnel regulators into high-paying jobs in the financial fields they once allegedly regulated. This palsy-walsy situation must be ended abruptly, starting with a complete removal of the regulatory agencies' top echelon. There's also the need to alter the American mindset now, to give people some hope once again.

Then, of course, there are other major problems awaiting the new president: global warming (which was ignored and, therefore, exacerbated by the Bush administration), Iraq (wholly created by the Bush administration), Israeli/Arab hatreds and wars (probably unsolvable by any mortal), Korea (bungled by Bush), Russia (completely bungled by Bush), environmental degradation (greatly expanded by Bush), and many others.

To Obama, I say: Good luck. You'll need it, especially after Bush.

-- Bruce Barnbaum, Granite Falls

Smart investments

Investing massive amounts of money on renewable-energy development, modernizing the energy grid, transportation infrastructure and education are all great ideas that will not only jump-start the economy by putting people to work, they are smart investments that will pay dividends for years.

Just as Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal projects, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bonneville Power Administration, created real, long-term wealth that we are still enjoying 70 years later, these are the sorts of mega-capital-intensive projects that government can enact best.

However, a repeat of personal- tax-rebate checks is a gross waste of federal resources. It gave us a one month "growth" blip last spring and cost the federal treasury $150 billion. Our grandchildren shouldn't have to pay for this wasteful bloating of the national debt.

Let's invest our precious economic resources -- not fritter them away.

-- Jonathan Ryweck, Port Townsend

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January 11, 2009 6:01 AM

Global warming

Posted by Letters editor

Checking in twice

The Jan. 8 Seattle Times article "Farming first victim of global warming?" [Local News] included the statement, "By the end of this century, the odds are higher than 90 percent that average temperatures during the growing season will be higher than ever before in recorded history across a big swath of the planet … "

The April 28, 1975, Newsweek article "The Cooling World" included the statement, "Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But, they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century."

The totally incorrect meteorological "consensus" presented in the 1975 Newsweek article indicates the high-error potential associated with predicting long-term climate change and its effect on agricultural productivity.

-- Ken Schlichte, Tumwater

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January 11, 2009 6:01 AM

Snow removal

Posted by Letters editor

No salt, no bus

I understand the city of Seattle maintains an Office of Emergency Management. Who are these people? What do they do and how much do we pay them? Why hasn't The Times addressed the role -- or, I should say, non-role -- of that agency in the recent snow and ice emergency?

I live in the suburbs and rarely get downtown, but I'm angry that some bus commuters were stranded in the city by Metro's inability to perform, exacerbated by Mayor Greg Nickel's "hold the salt" policy.

Perhaps City Hall could figure out a way next time to deal with those who were forced to stand in the cold for hours, waiting for their bus that never showed up.

One possibility might be to periodically run chained busses down Third Avenue with large banners on the side saying, "Emergency shuttle to Qwest Field Exhibition Hall Warming and Re-Routing Center."

-- Jim White, Lake Forest Park

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January 11, 2009 6:00 AM

Starbucks' jet

Posted by Letters editor

Misleading headline

The headline, "Stores closing, but Starbucks buys a jet" [News, Jan. 8] misrepresents the true circumstances.

Within the first three paragraphs, we learn that "Starbucks ordered the jet three years ago" and it just recently came into their possession. That's called taking delivery, not purchasing, and it's not the same thing. Both comments are misleading and sensationalist.

Starbucks deserves an apology, and I expect better from The Seattle Times.

-- Michael Herman, Walla Walla

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January 11, 2009 6:00 AM

Dental disease

Posted by Letters editor

A significant problem

A recent article about growing replacement teeth ["Chew on this: We'll soon be able to grow replacement teeth," page one, Jan. 6] correctly identified community-water fluoridation as a significant pubic-health measure that has, over a generation, drastically reduced dental disease.

It is estimated that more than 180 million Americans consume fluoridated water everyday because it is a public-health measure that saves far more money than it costs. More than 60 years of evidence has shown that water fluoridation is an effective way to improve one's oral health. That is why water fluoridation is endorsed by health, medical and dental organizations across the county. Yet, in our state, fluoridated water is only available to about 59 percent of the population.

Dental disease is a significant problem in Washington. Studies show that nearly 60 percent of elementary-aged children have preventable dental decay, a leading cause of school absenteeism.

As we look for ways to reduce health-care costs, water fluoridation is a classic example of evidence-based prevention that will save money and improve health. The return on investment is significant. For most communities, every $1 invested in community water fluoridation saves $38 in dental-treatment costs. Policymakers who support efforts to reduce health-care costs should also support efforts to fluoridate the water. Everyone benefits from good oral health.

-- Laura Smith, Seattle

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January 11, 2009 6:00 AM


Posted by Letters editor

A call for equal rights

Washington state law needs to be changed to help our foster children. Once a child has resided with a foster family for at least 12 months, the foster family needs to become the legal guardian, with the same legal standing as the birthparents, during the resolution of the permanency plan.

Within a year of living as a family, strong psychological attachments are developed and the foster parents become experts on the needs of that child. Currently, foster children can live with foster families indefinitely in transition.

However, foster parents are not equals in child-welfare cases. Their opinions are marginalized as nonprofessionals, and their willingness to provide permanency is interpreted as anti-birth-family sentiment.

There are many decent, loving families willing to help a foster child find a permanent home, but few willing to live through years of powerlessness under the adoption process.

Open adoption with liberal contact may be the most compassionate option for birthparents struggling with long-term addiction and/or mental health issues. But, is not openly offered as a solution toward permanency. Why not?

We all know DNA no longer defines family in modern society. Our laws and child welfare policies need to reflect that.

-- Jennifer Gross, Everett

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January 9, 2009 3:36 PM

War in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor

Getty Images

A Palestinian man rides his bicycle next to the rubble of a house destroyed by Israeli air strikes on January 9, 2009 in Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza Strip.

Arab world, step up to the plate

Editor, The Times:

Where did the refugees that are in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank come from?

In 1948, the new country of Israel became a battleground from border to border. Millions of Palestinians had to flee to save their lives. The Arab world has refused to help absorb or relocate these people, preferring to keep them as a pawn in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Why is Israel the only country being pressured to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza when there is also access to Gaza from Egypt, but that crossing is closed just as tight as Israeli crossings? Couldn't the Arab world leaders free up some of their "petrodollars" to help their own people?

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were captured during one of the many Arab wars of aggression against Israel, but that is not the most important point of the current conflict. In 1948, virtually every Arab/Muslim nation in the Middle East sent millions of soldiers, planes, tanks and sentiments that they wanted to kill every Jew in the new nation of Israel. This has been a recurring problem.

Currently, Hamas has the destruction of Israel and death to all Jews as the main priorities of its charter. Is it any wonder that Israel is on the defensive?

Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida are all the same: terrorist organizations with no legitimate aims in any country in the world.

-- Stuart Creighton, Seattle

What is the objective?

If one considers the military objective of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it is obvious there is none.

Lobbing poorly aimed rockets into Israel accomplishes nothing but dead civilians and a 100-to-1 retaliation. The military or political value of dead civilians isn't even worth the cost of purchasing the rockets.

So, what is their objective? To provoke retaliation.

Why would a third-world militia want to provoke a first-world military to attack? The military outcome is obvious: Hamas would be destroyed. Even as Hamas hides among women and children, it knows the Israelis will shoot.

If then, Hamas has no military objective for this provocation, what is their objective? To produce exactly what is happening: Israeli bombing of civilians, hospitals and schools; Israeli ground forces terrorizing Gazan civilians; and worldwide media coverage of the horror.

Thus, a war crime is being perpetrated by Hamas, sacrificing their people to buy the world's sympathy. Hamas provokes Israel to kill Gazans, which buys sympathy.

The media should stop participating in this war crime. If the trouble in Gaza received no media coverage, there would be no motivation for Hamas to sacrifice Gazans to the Israeli military. A media blackout might win a Nobel Peace Prize.

-- Nathan Kirk, Auburn

Time to relocate

In 1967, Israel concluded a short defensive war against aggressor Arab states Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At that juncture, Israel was in control of not only the West Bank and Gaza, but of the entire Sinai Peninsula.
Today, we witness the plight of helpless people who are caught between Israeli tanks and Hamas rockets. The suffering is real and tragic.

But instead of looking to Israel for a solution to this suffering, why don't we look toward the former aggressors of the Six Day War. Why can't the Arab brethren of the Palestinian people help?

A casual look at the region reveals that Israel has not much left to give that hasn't already been ceded since 1967. Yet for many years, rockets have rained down on Israeli cities from these very locations.
Clearly, the Gaza Strip (only about 125 square miles) is problematic as an entity separate from Israel. Palestinians in this region, who don't wish to be a part of Israel, should relocate to Egypt, Jordan or the West Bank.

Let Palestine be a be made up of the West Bank and 125 square miles of Jordanian soil along the Jordan river.

-- Mark Hamp, Lynnwood

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January 9, 2009 3:30 PM

The Catholic Church and politics

Posted by Letters editor

The role of revelation

Terrence Carroll and Sam Sperry ["Churches and politics: conscience or dogma?" guest column, Jan. 8] are respected individuals in the field of U.S. law and journalism. They are faithful sons of the Catholic Church, but also show themselves to be children of the Enlightenment era.

René Descartes ushered in our postmodern age. His axiom, "I think, therefore I am," attempted to dismiss external authority and objective truth. Carroll and Sperry seem to imply that moral principles should be determined by majority vote.

Christianity, however, is a religion based on revelation. In the Catholic faith, revelation is transmitted through scripture and tradition.

Bishops form the magisterium or teaching authority in the church. Reception of teaching by the laity does play an important role, but the teaching is not determined by majority vote of the laity in any given area, whether it be Washington state, the United States or any other world nation.

I agree with Carroll and Sperry that a few in the episcopacy have not been the best of teachers, resorting to the threat of excommunication and denial of the sacraments. On the other hand, some of the faithful have transformed Descartes' axiom into "I think, therefore I am right." They seem closed to any view but their own, even though they may have no background in studying the scriptures or moral theology.

I regret Carroll and Sperry feel that the laity does not have any meaningful role in the church. If they reviewed the documents of the Second Vatican Council, they would discover that the role of the laity is to transform the world.

Yes, the laity has a minor role in the formation of church teaching. But, they have a major role in bringing the joy, justice and peace of God's kingdom to every aspect of life and, yes, to transform the world.

-- William McKee, Federal Way

Proud to be Catholic, proud to support life

As a Catholic, I see the church take strong moral stances on social issues. As a Catholic, I know that our bishops will avoid moral relativism. And as a Catholic, I am disappointed to see Terrence Carroll and Sam Sperry call for church leaders to dialogue with the laity about watering down the Catholic stance on abortion, assisted suicide and human-life issues.

Dialogue is not the problem. The Catholic Church has spent the past few decades in dialogue. This election season produced a great deal of dialogue. Theologian George Weigel and a group of well-respected Catholic professors published an intense dialogue in Newsweek this fall over whether a vote for President-elect Obama could be considered "pro-life."

These issues are not new, but Americans have warmed up to them with the advent of embryonic stem-cell research and scientific advances. As a consequence, people wrongly accuse the Catholic Church of being stubborn and naive. Get with the times, Catholics critics proclaim.

As a Catholic, I am proud that the church stood against I-1000. Such extreme adherence to our long-held social beliefs can be lonely, but Catholics must be open to life from natural beginning to natural death. God's own incarnate flesh began in the womb and ended in obedience to the point of death. That is God's statement of support for life.

Abortion, assisted suicide, the death penalty and stem-cell research have been evaluated exhaustively. Look it up. I'm sure you can find a coherent Catholic stance.

As a Catholic, I cannot justify denying life in any circumstance, based on the church's well-documented and grounded teachings. As a Catholic, I am proud that my church does not compromise on issues of life. As Catholics, Carroll and Sperry should be, too.

-- Daniel Miller, Mill Creek

Submission is all or nothing

Terrence Carroll and Sam Sperry contended that Catholic bishops wrongly refuse to follow the lead of their parishioners regarding gay marriage and abortion. I am not a Catholic, not even close, but I don't think someone would have to oppose abortion or gay marriage to see how weak their reasoning is.

If you belong to a church, you agree with its dogma. Dogma is a matter of faith, not opinion. A person is not born a Catholic, like being born Irish or African. Being a Catholic requires emotional and intellectual assent to the teachings of the Catholic Church. People who don't agree with the Catholic Church regarding its most fundamental teachings, may disagree out of good conscience. But, they are not Catholic. This is not pejorative. It is simply true.

Carroll and Sperry wrote: "We understand the church has been administered like a monarchy for centuries. But, if the American bishops expect their fellow Catholics to accept their leadership on matters of public policy, then they must respect those among the faithful who, in good conscience, have formed their own views."

It is true that the church has been administered like a monarchy. That is because it is a monarchy. Catholics believe that the monarchy is ruled by the monarch: Christ the King.

The king, in his absence, has left vicars to administer the kingdom. They are the pope, cardinals, bishops and priests. Since they are the vicars, standing in place of the king, they are not free to change the laws of the kingdom just because the majority has changed its mind.

Vatican II states: "Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly. They are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church. Their definitions must then be adhered to with the submission of faith."

Vatican II also says, "The pope's definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit."

To say you are a Catholic, but don't believe the mandates of the pope or bishops, is kind of like saying you are an atheist, but you believe in God. It makes no sense. They flunk the debate.

The columnists wrote protesting the authority of the Catholic Church. They join a long and venerable line. But, they should at least have the courage and honesty to call themselves by the name most other protesters use: Protestants.

-- Mark McLemore, Mill Creek

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January 9, 2009 3:27 PM

National politics

Posted by Letters editor

It's up to you

David Sirota's column ["New Deal gets a raw deal when conservatives rap FDR," syndicated columnist, Jan. 5] noted that conservatives incorrectly believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt's massive government spending, intended to end the Depression, actually lengthened it.

Sirota also noted that economist Paul Krugman believes FDR's attempt to balance the budget from 1937-38 further impacted the economy. It did a lot more than that. It is true that the '37-'38 recession was caused by an attempt to balance the budget, but what is left out of the column is, while FDR cut spending, he raised taxes.

Conservatives assert that, between 1934 and 1940, unemployment averaged 17.2 percent with the lowest unemployment in the 1930s being 14 percent. Liberals, noting that the unemployment figures used by conservatives do not count people working in government-relief programs, measure the unemployment rates as low as 9 percent and as high as 16 percent. Should these people be counted? You decide.

Unemployment declined when America began selling war materials to nations engaged in war, and went away completely when America joined WWII. Hopefully, President-elect Obama's team will keep the lessons of history in mind when they develop policies to resolve the current economic crisis.

-- Bill Armstrong, Port Orchard

The deep pocket-less

How ironic that the chance to witness history up close should come down to money. In "Big donations: That's the ticket" [local news, Jan. 8], the implicit argument is that if you're wealthy enough, you, too, can purchase a ticket to the inauguration of Barack Obama through a $50,000 donation. Yet again, the myth of equal opportunity is shattered.

I do not resent the individuals whose wealth affords them this opportunity, nor do I resent President-elect Obama because I know that his team must raise private money to make the inauguration possible. But, have we forgotten about the ordinary Americans -- those without $50,000 to spare -- who helped elect Obama?

I was an organizer for the Obama campaign in Boston. I worked 20 hours a week, without pay, while simultaneously attending graduate school and working part-time. In the week before Election Day, I campaigned 16 hours a day. Many others volunteered even more time. We made sacrifices because we believed -- and still believe -- in Obama's vision of change.

I am traveling to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration because I want to be part of this historic event. But, I will consider myself lucky to stand outside and watch Obama on a JumboTron with the huddled masses.

-- Jessie Babcock, Renton

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January 9, 2009 3:24 PM

University of Washington Husky football

Posted by Letters editor

Deflate Holt's salary

In light of the continuous reporting of economic woes, fraud, failures and the exhortations to do more with less, granting defensive coordinator and assistant Husky football coach Nick Holt a salary amounting to more than $2 million over three years seems particularly indifferent to the realities of our time ["UW football is 'a sleeping giant' and Holt plans to inject adrenaline," Steve Kelley, staff columnist, Jan. 7].

Coach Holt's remarks suggesting that he's in the business to "make a difference in these kid's lives" ring hollow. He said, "It's unfortunate that the really good professors don't get paid as much [as coaches to]."
He claimed "it's the world we live in" that's to blame and he "can't do anything about that." Actually, he can.

Does he really want to inspire and teach? If so, then demonstrate that a football program is but one part of a distinguished university. Our University of Washington is composed of great teachers, learning facilities and research.

Holt should dedicate a portion of his inflated salary to faculty incentives, student-learning stipends and improvements to the University's physical operations. Unlike the recently assembled reporters who, after listening to Holt, were described by Kelley as "ready to hit somebody," I'd like to see a leader like Holt stand at the center stage he enjoys and inspire us all to help somebody.

We think we can do something about the world we live in. Let's restore some balance to our priorities.

-- Tony Angell and Lee Rolfe, Seattle

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January 9, 2009 3:23 PM

Sex trafficking

Posted by Letters editor

No excuse for apathy

I want to thank you for publishing Nicholas Kristof's columns this week about child slavery and prostitution ["A 21st-century abolitionist movement," Jan. 6, and "Sex trafficking: the evil behind the forced smiles," Jan. 5]. These are issues we may not want to think about, but we certainly need to.

Many perhaps feel that these horrors are just too overwhelming or too complicated for one person to make a difference. My son and daughter recently moved to Mumbai, India, to work with a group called International Justice Mission (IJM). They help prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, as well as rescue and rehabilitate their victims.

The Times readers may want to find out more about IJM at It is possible for us to make a difference.

-- Lynn Conver, Kent

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January 8, 2009 4:01 PM

The Gaza war

Posted by Letters editor

Khaled Omar / The Associated Press

Palestinians walk in the rubble following an Israeli airstrike Wednesday in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel ordered a pause in its Gaza offensive Wednesday for three hours to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, as the country's leaders debated whether to accept an international cease-fire plan or to expand the assault against Hamas.

Casualties are nothing new

Editor, The Times:

Counting and recounting every casualty of the current conflict in Gaza seems surreal to me. Was it not only 60 years ago that we routinely bombed cities like Tokyo and Dresden, creating terrifying firestorms that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians?

I grew up during the Vietnam War watching the casualties on television each and every night for years. Every military person will tell you that warfare equals casualties.

It is remarkable that the Israeli military, receiving no respect or acknowledgment, takes extraordinary measures to avoid casualties.

-- Paul Zohav, Bellevue

Can't ignore facts on the ground

"Israel is not attacking the Palestinian people." Such is the claim of Israel's military spokesmen. Facts on the ground speak louder than words. For 18 months before the current assault, Israel implemented an air, sea and land blockade, producing a humanitarian emergency for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians.

According to U.N. agencies, 80 percent of Gazans rely on aid for food, and unemployment has risen to more than 50 percent. Gaza's power station often has no fuel or spare parts. More than 100 lifesaving medications were depleted.

My father, brother and other family members under fire in Gaza are -- like the vast majority of Palestinians -- innocent of any crimes against Israeli civilians. Yet they have been deprived of basic human necessities by Israel.

Most Gazans are Palestinian refugees who were displaced by Israel and denied the right to return to their homeland. This suffering is the latest chapter of 60 years of occupation and displacement.

Israel is bombing universities, mosques, ministries, police stations, the Palestinian Parliament and schools. My family is terrorized, keeping windows open to avoid glass breakage by the bombing (there is no glass repair in Gaza) and suffering in cold and darkness.

And we're supposed to believe that Israel is not attacking the Palestinian people. Visit for more information.

-- Hazim Shafi, Redmond

Make a choice

Michael Barr of Sammamish apparently believes it's time to "dissolve the artificially created geopolitical lines of 1948" and abolish the state of Israel ["No friend of democracy," Northwest Voices, Jan. 6]. I wonder if he feels the same about the "artificially created" boundaries of Syria, Jordan and the other nations formed after WWI when the Ottoman Turkish Empire collapsed? Would he support the abolition of Lebanon or Iraq as nations because they "abused the privilege" of statehood by attacking their neighbors? How about Japan? Germany?

Suggesting the dissolution of sovereign nations because of their actions toward their neighbors is the most absurd notion I've seen in your pages. What do you suppose would happen to the notion of sovereignty if even one country was told by the U.N. that it no longer had a right to exist?

One wonders what Barr's response would be if, say, Mexico started lobbing rockets into San Diego to protest our "occupation" of Southern California in the 1800s? How long do you think we as a nation would stand for that? And if Mexico failed to stop its attacks, what would Barr's response be if we took strong military action to force an end to the attacks? Would he call for the dissolution of the United States?

Those claiming Israel's actions constitute "genocide" or "ethnic cleansing" don't understand the meaning of the words. Israel is targeting enemies who are sworn to its destruction. It's unfortunate that innocent Palestinians are being killed and injured, but this is a war and there is simply no way to avoid occasional collateral damage.

If Palestinians want peace, they can have it. All they need to do is force Hamas to stop the violence and renounce their insane, suicidal goal of destroying a neighboring state. Then the borders will open, the food and fuel and medicine will flow.

The people of Gaza must make a choice: peace or destruction. Seems pretty simple to me.

-- Winston Rockwell, Kirkland

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Seattle snow job

Posted by Letters editor

Time to take responsibility

I am sorry that Seattleites have become such a bunch of whiners that they think snow is a disaster. It's not. It's an inconvenience, made worse by the lack of reliable public transportation, a population that apparently can't take care of itself, and a pitifully self-absorbed view of entitlement.

Ask a Katrina survivor if having your trash on the curb for two weeks is worth the rants and raves we've heard. Ask a flood victim who lost everything if not being able to get to the store justifies the anger and sense of betrayal we hear in people's voices these days.

I guarantee you that if the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) had voted to buy 10 more snowplows in July -- at the expense of some other service -- there would have been public outcry that it was unjustified.

We all need to take responsibility for our community's well-being and be prepared to take care of ourselves and each other.

-- Cai Hadfield, Auburn

One definition please

In response to the failure of communication between Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about plowing the streets ["City never responded to Metro's plea to plow," page one, Jan. 7], I think part of the communication problem is that "plowed" means different things to different people. When Metro Transit general manager Kevin Desmond asks for streets to be plowed, he is asking for the streets to be cleared down to bare pavement as soon as possible. This is what most people mean by "plowed."

When Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels or Grace Crunican of SDOT says the streets have been plowed, they are saying that the plows have been used to pack the snow down on the streets so that only four-wheel-drive vehicles and front-wheel-drive vehicles with chains can drive on them. This leads to long-lasting ice, especially if the weather stays cold, and makes it very difficult for buses to get around. This is a bizarre interpretation of the word "plowed."

The city needs to change its plowing policy to focus on clearing streets. Even with only 27 plows, major streets could have and should have been cleared.

Eight to 12 inches of snow over several days is not a natural disaster; it should be manageable.

-- Sandra Perkins, Seattle

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Sex-education programs

Posted by Letters editor

It's a science

Ellen Goodman hit the nail on the head with her analysis of a new study on teens and sexual activity ["Sex mis-education doesn't work," syndicated columnist, Jan. 2]. For the past eight years, our government has funded and promoted abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, despite mounting evidence that these classes make adolescents more likely to have unprotected sex.

Advice to patients should always be guided by scientific evidence. As a physician, I have encouraged my patients to exercise more or stop smoking based on studies that show the health benefits of these behaviors.

I urge President-elect Obama to use the same principle when deciding which sex-education programs merit federal funding. Comprehensive programs -- including lessons on relationship-building, responsibility and birth control -- are the best choice for raising healthy adults.

-- Suzanne Poppema, MD, Edmonds

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Sex trafficking

Posted by Letters editor

Be aware

I want to say I was glad to see the item on the opinion page by syndicated columnist Nicholas D. Kristof ["Sex Trafficking: the evil behind the forced smiles," Jan. 5]. I have been following his columns on this subject and was glad you elected to publish his column in The Times.

I think this is something we all need to be aware is happening in our world. Sometimes the newspaper is the only way we have of becoming aware.

I am a supporter of the Somaly Mam Foundation and have ordered many of the bracelets made by the young girls they manage to rescue. I do my best to pass them on to my friends and family.

Kristof is a national treasure as far as I am concerned. His dedication to reporting is outstanding. I hope our Seattle paper will continue to publish his columns. Keep up the good work and God bless the American Press.

-- Linda Flickinger, Lynnwood

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Sale of Puget Sound Energy

Posted by Letters editor

Heads in the sand

Why on earth would Commissioners Patrick Oshie and Mark Sidran of the Utilities and Transportation Commission even give a thought to approving the sale of Puget Sound Energy (PSE) when the whole proposal had a decidedly bad smell from the beginning? ["Wrong decision on PSE," editorial, Jan. 6.]

Now that the deal seems to be done, even more troubling aspects are coming to light. One wonders whether these two men were making decisions with their heads buried in the sand.

Surely, they had to have had access to all the information beforehand and well before the public was privy to some of the more questionable financial issues related to the purchase. So what were they thinking?

Haven't we seen enough of such warped and unwise deals in the past year or longer?

Hopefully, there is an avenue for the governor to step in and nix this irresponsible decision.

-- Ruth Quiban, Seattle

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

This is, um, important

Posted by Letters editor

Finding its time and place

Like Bruce Ramsey, whose columns are always interesting, I prize thoughtful, well-argued discourse -- even about the word "um" ["I take umbrage at 'um,'" editorial columnist, Jan. 7]

But, I also love the use of "um" for its power to embarrass. Snarky, snide, sure, but at times oh-so useful.

Aristotle long ago laid bare the persuasive powers of each part of the classical rhetorical triumvirate -- logos, pathos and ethos -- and taught us not to overlook the value of attitude.

-- Bruce Evans, Mesa, Ariz.

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Child abuse

Posted by Letters editor

The bigger picture

Will someone please explain why a 16-year-old girl is charged with first degree murder in the suspicious death of her newborn baby ["Body of newborn found in trash," Local News, Jan. 6] when adult males who beat and torture to death newborns, infants and toddlers are only charged with manslaughter?

-- Karen Clay, Port Orchard

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January 8, 2009 4:00 PM

Political accountability

Posted by Letters editor

Cause and effect

Yes, there are important things that need to be fixed. But I hope they don't eliminate the need to hold lawbreakers accountable.

When former President Richard Nixon illegally tried to cover up the Watergate break-in, he wasn't held accountable.

This set the stage for former President Ronald Reagan, who traded weapons for the release of U.S. hostages. He wasn't held accountable, which in turn set the stage for President George W. Bush to knowingly violate the law by wiretapping citizens without first getting a warrant.

If Bush isn't held accountable, will that set the stage for someone in the future?

-- Don Franks, Burien

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January 7, 2009 4:04 PM

The Gaza war

Posted by Letters editor

Anja Niedringhaus / The Associated Press

Israeli soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires toward targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday.

A two-sided story

Editor, The Times:

In his column "The Israel-Gaza war is not complicated: Hamas attacks must end," Charles Krauthammer [Times, syndicated columnist, Jan. 4] reduces a tragic and complex conflict to a fairy tale of noble Israel slaying an evil force.

Unfortunately, the facts are not so simple. Israel is not only our ally, but many of us in the U.S. have personal connections with citizens of Israel. It is difficult not to have an immediate response of empathy for Israel. But, this does not excuse us from looking at the complexity of the situation in a quest for peace.

Krauthammer fails to note that since Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip, it has relentlessly isolated Gaza, choking its economy and turning it into a virtual prison for its inhabitants.

Its civilian population has been deprived of access to the most basic necessities, including adequate health care. Krauthammer paints Israel as a beleaguered victim of a relentless attack. In fact, Israel is a nation with one of the world's largest and most sophisticated militaries.

In its justifiable aim to stop Hamas rocket fire, it is choosing to pursue a means that is inflicting death, destruction and unimaginable suffering on a civilian population that is already weakened by years of Israeli occupation and isolation.

Recall that after the war of 1967 when the victorious Israel occupied Gaza, it confiscated Palestinian land and resources in order to establish Israeli settlements. Krauthammer writes that the occupation ended in 2005 and therefore cannot be a grievance. He neglects to mention that the end of the occupation did not mean the end of Israeli control. Israel continued to keep Gazans imprisoned in its borders.

Establishment of peace requires understanding the legitimate needs of both Israelis and Gazans.

-- Elaine Loughlin, Port Townsend

Long overdue

I commend Charles Krauthammer for his insightful column.

Israel's response to seven years of life under rocket fire and suicide bombings by Palestinian terrorists was long overdue. During that time, Israel exercised extraordinary restraint in the face of the thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks on its citizens. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed from Israeli surgical strikes were Hamas terrorists, according to U.N. data.

The Bush administration is right to stand behind Israel's right to defend itself. Equating Israeli defensive measures with Iranian-backed Hamas terrorism is neither justified nor appropriate.

Israel needs to win a decisive victory in its war with Hamas and confiscate its military equipment if there is going to be any chance of a lasting peace. Palestinians have received more humanitarian aid per capita than any other people in the world. Unfortunately, much of this aid has been used to purchase weapons for attacking Israeli citizens.

If Palestinians wish to live in peace with Israel and prosper, they need to elect leaders that will devote their financial resources to building a civil society, and give up their pipe dream of destroying Israel.

-- Josh Basson, Seattle

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January 7, 2009 4:03 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Considering alternatives

As a stakeholder for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Advisory Committee, I would like to correct a statement in your editorial on Dec. 31 ["A viaduct we can dig"]. You wrote, "The vote of the committee was nearly unanimous, except for one."

I will say this: There has never been a vote at any Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting in the past 12 months in support of a tunnel. It should be noted that eight of the 30 stakeholders did not attend the Dec. 11 meeting when this so-called vote took place.

The majority of the stakeholder comments at the December SAC meetings either supported the surface/transit, elevated or bored-tunnel option. (Readers can visit the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Web site for a summary of stakeholder comments on these issues.)

The push for the tunnel was a continual ploy brought about by downtown Seattle stakeholders who would not give up on the bored tunnel. The SAC Staff recommended that only the surface/transit and elevated options move forward.

The bored tunnel would take 12 years to build, cost the most and does not have a connection to Ballard, the T-91 Cruise Ship Terminal or Magnolia.

Your editorial also said, "The two options presented as the only options are quite possibly the worst options." If you had attended all of the stakeholder meetings, you could understand how SAC came to the conclusion that the surface/transit and elevated options were the most viable.

After a year of stakeholders' commitment and study, I believe the elevated option is the best common-sense solution for our state and region.

-- Gene Hoglund, Seattle

Time to move on

Once again I find a local wonk deliberately confusing the viaduct issue by comparing it with San Francisco's late Embarcadero ["Embarcadero, thy daughter is the Alaskan Way Viaduct," James F. Vesely, editorial columnist, Jan. 4]. I hope to provide some clarification.

First and foremost, the Embarcadero Freeway, as it was called, was not a freeway at all. It was, for all practical purposes, a ramp to and from the Interstate 80 Bay Bridge. I drove that ramp on a daily basis for the better part of six years. Westbound, it dropped off in North Beach at the foot of Broadway. That's where it stopped. It didn't continue through the city, join North Highway 101 or connect to the Golden Gate Bridge northbound. It didn't head west five miles to intersect with the Pacific Coast Highway. Southbound, it didn't connect with the Highway 101 Bayshore Freeway or Interstate 280 South. It simply provided a means to access the bridge and I-80.

Another thing the Embarcadero ramp did not do was provide nonstop access for 110,000 cars per day. While it may have carried this many autos to and from the city itself, it was not a regional thruway, as is our Highway 99. The paragraph below, from the Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) own Web site, perfectly sums up the results of swapping the Embarcadero ramp for what our council members and others like to call the "Surface+Transit" option:

"Traffic from the Embarcadero did not disappear once the highway was closed. In fact, traffic from the Embarcadero shifted to more than a dozen parallel streets that serve the same neighborhoods. Traffic volumes on these streets before and after the closure show that an additional 112,000 vehicle trips per day -- about the same amount of traffic displaced from the Embarcadero -- were added to San Francisco's streets in the area where the Embarcadero was removed."

The report goes on to detail the difference between San Francisco, which had those parallel streets available, and Seattle, where we do not. "35,000-56,000 vehicles per day would clog surface Alaskan Way, compared to 10,000 vehicles using it today. Downtown street traffic would increase by 30-50 percent, causing congestion most of the day and into the evening. ... Increased congestion in downtown and on the waterfront would degrade the quality of public spaces in these areas, impact transit, pedestrian and bicycle travel, and decrease mobility to and through the downtown area. The already congested I-5 route would be unable to handle the additional traffic, even with billions of dollars of improvements."

I suggest everyone who still thinks we ought to tear down the viaduct and leave nothing in its place go read the report. It's time for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Vesely and The Times editorial board to get over it. All of it.

-- Jef Jaisun, Seattle

Apples and oranges

James Vesely wrote we need to replace the failing viaduct with something that's right for "the city, the region, and the postcard in our dreams." Although true, we won't achieve anything by trying to emulate the Embarcadero.

Comparing San Francisco and Seattle, Vesely misses some important differences. Seattle is a major working port with Alaskan Way providing access to huge container ships constantly being loaded and unloaded. The smaller Port of San Francisco handles one-eighth the tonnage of our port. Frisco's Ferry Building is home to passenger-only ferries while car ferries dock at Seattle's Colman Dock.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is an alternative north-south route. Although originally intended to connect the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, the Embarcadero Freeway was simply a spur providing access to downtown.

While waterfront condos and wide esplanades could work for Seattle's central waterfront, we will still need a through route to handle high-traffic volume, to accommodate the vehicles that use the ferries, and provide easy truck access to ships if our port is to remain robust. If we can figure out a way to do all of this, we will have found a solution that is right for us, not right for another city.

-- Pam Carter, Tukwila

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January 7, 2009 4:02 PM

The state budget

Posted by Letters editor

Keep the Housing Trust Fund

Recent news about our state's looming budget deficit signals the need to make deep cuts in critical areas. Resources vital to economically healthy communities are under threat of elimination. A case in point is the state's Housing Trust Fund, an initiative that has an exemplary performance record. The fund has consistently been a catalyst for making affordable housing available to the growing number of people whose employment and income makes affordable housing an evermore-elusive goal.

The housing crisis so prominent in other regional economies is now permeating our own, which typically has been more resilient. The prudent thing to do is to place a priority on opportunities to acquire land and move affordable-housing efforts forward. Unfortunately, we are staring at the harsh but very real possibility of slashing the Housing Trust Fund by 50 percent. This response will have devastating effects on advances currently in progress, and will squeeze the production of affordable housing with latent sacrifices compounded for years to come.

We are living in unprecedented times. Cuts and sacrifices are inevitable and necessary. But with so much to cut, there is also extraordinary importance attached to the criteria by which our leaders judge the merits of worthwhile programs. Whatever those criteria, they should openly acknowledge and give weight to the effectiveness of the Housing Trust Fund and the fundamental equity issues it addresses. The fund is an achievement ahead of its time and one in which Washington state should take justified pride.

This is a year to regain our collective foothold. Let's keep the momentum on those efforts that contribute substantially to Washington's uniquely progressive national reputation. Let's use the intelligence and resourcefulness for which we are equally well known to passionately advocate for creative and effective approaches to make up for our budget shortfalls and minimize losses to the Housing Trust Fund.

-- Marty Kooistra, Seattle

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January 7, 2009 4:01 PM

National economy

Posted by Letters editor

Focus on the people, not Wall Street

I live in Olympia, in a wonderfully diverse, urban neighborhood. We are America: wealthy, middle class and poor; Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs; liberals and conservatives; blacks, whites, Hispanics, Chinese, Vietnamese, Romanians, Ukrainians -- all this and much more. We work hard everyday and raise our families well.

As President-elect Obama makes decisions concerning how to assist the American economy, we (and the millions just like us) are who he should be thinking about. We are the only force big enough, powerful enough, and smart enough to fix this mess.

A large part of this economic crisis is fear-based and media-generated. No matter how financially stable, no matter how secure your job, it's impossible not to feel anxious these days if you read a newspaper, watch TV, listen to the radio, use the Internet, or even just talk to friends.

Fear is palpable and contagious, but there is something Obama can do about it: talk to and focus his interventions on us. He shouldn't waste his time trying to spin positive stories or convince the media to stop being what they are: attention seekers and advertising purveyors. Rather, he should transcend the media, talk directly to America; remind us who we are.

We are the greatest generation and its progeny, immigrant-strong and resourceful. We are the most widely educated, hardworking, creative people on earth. We can do anything.

Our new president should remind us that we have, for 200 years, created and sustained the most powerful economic engine the world has ever known. He should remind us that our economy has created the largest, most widely educated middle class anywhere, ever. Remind us that this economy creates such a surplus of goods and services that anyone willing to educate themselves and work hard can enjoy a standard of living attainable only by royalty just a few generations ago.

Remind us that Merrill Lynch is not the economy, American International Group (AIG) is not the economy, General Motors is not the economy. We are the economy, and we are unstoppable because we are free, flexible, resilient, strong, and creative. Throughout history, we've proven that nothing can stop us or our economy -- not war, terrorism, inflation, fear or greed. Obama should remind us that anyone who has ever placed a long-term bet against us or our economy has lost.

He should forget about Wall Street, financial institutions, the auto industry, and all the corporations looking for bailouts. If he wants to fix this economy, he needs to focus on us.

For example, rather than bail out the housing and mortgage industry, he should create a federal program that makes 4 percent 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages available to all Americans who have the ability to make payments.

Rather than bail out the auto industry, he should make 4 percent auto loans available to all who have the ability to make car payments. Obama doesn't need to tell the auto industry how to make cars. He can trust the collective intelligence of Americans to buy the autos they want and need, and let those companies flourish or perish based on their ability to meet those needs.

During this economic turmoil, our new president need only do this: Remind us who we are and focus interventions on our strengths and needs, give us fair access to jobs and credit and then trust us to "vote with our dollars." This is, and always has been, the prescription for national economic success.

-- Robert Hodges, Olympia

Leave FDR in the past

Sorry David Sirota ["New Deal gets a raw deal when conservatives rap FDR," syndicated columnist, Jan. 5], a growing majority of historians and economists do agree that the New Deal prolonged the Depression. Just look at the facts. In 1931, the unemployment rate stood at 17.4 percent. After five years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, the unemployment rate was 17.4 percent. Unemployment in the 1930s never went below 14 percent.

Roosevelt said in his first inaugural, "Our greatest primary task is to put people to work." The New Deal, while it did introduce social reforms that we value today, failed as a recovery program and made things worse.

It's time to move beyond the sentimental infatuation with FDR and let economists and historians sort out the truth. Journalistic attempts to rewrite history in order to provide cover for current Democratic strategies are yet another reminder of irresponsible bias in the media. In Sirota's introduction, he asserts, "… George W. Bush insisted Iraqi airplanes were about to drop WMD on American cities." I should have stopped reading at that point.

-- Robert Wilkes, Bellevue

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January 7, 2009 4:00 PM

FedEx and UPS delays during snow

Posted by Letters editor

Not a sign of laziness

As an employee of one of the companies identified in the headline over reader Jonathan Love's letter to the editor ["The duopoly of laziness," Northwest Voices, Jan. 3], I was somewhat amused at the subhead using the word "laziness" and the general tone of the letter. Space does not permit me to explain what happens to large, multimodal transportation systems when major, long-term weather events occur. Suffice to say, snow was officially recorded on 11 days at Sea-Tac International Airport in December, including nine of the 10 days between Dec. 17 and 26.

Weather played havoc with every mode of transportation, from pedestrians and bicycles, to Metro Transit, Amtrak and airlines, to gasoline tankers and garbage trucks.

For FedEx and UPS, the timing was obviously poor because of the seasonal rush of holiday packages. We fought the weather the best we could. One truck from my hub went on the road toward the hills chained up for 15 days straight. But, chains didn't help the ten trucks abandoned on the road in one day by a local facility, or the one truck from my facility stuck in a residential driveway for one and half days until a tow truck could get to it.

As for me, I have worked 16 out of the past 20 days, including Christmas Day. As for laziness, certainly haven't seen any where I work. In fact, I tip my hat to all of those that delivered anything these past three weeks.

-- Don Villeneuve, Renton

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January 7, 2009 4:00 PM

Random acts of kindness

Posted by Letters editor

Seattle salmon delivery

I am a Seattleite born and raised, but my job necessitated that we settle in Washington, D.C. My son Matt flew to D.C. to celebrate the New Year with us and bring back some Pacific Northwest salmon -- how I miss my regular diet of Northwest Salmon. It was in a styrofoam container which, as he has since found out, cannot be placed on the airplane unprotected. Although he wanted to buy a box, it was early and he was unable to obtain a proper container to put it in.

He didn't want to throw it out so he looked for someone to give it too (the first act of kindness). He found a nice couple who had just dropped off their son. He approached them, told them the story, and asked if they wanted some salmon.

The lady immediately offered to take it from him and to ship it to my address in D.C. She had, in her possession, three full-size, silver king fillets and several packages of smoked salmon that she could have had for the holidays, but chose instead to "pay it forward" by shipping it to my home in time for New Year's Day. She would not take any money from my son and there was no return address on the package.

Seattle appears to remain the place I left behind a few years ago. I hope everyone has a chance to read this, especially the couple who were so kind, and get that warm, comfortable feeling that all is not bad in the world.

-- Mike Kessler, Falls Church, Va.

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January 6, 2009 4:31 PM

Storm postmortem

Posted by Letters editor

Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, left, and Tim Burgess listen to Seattle Department of Transportation Director Grace Crunican answer questions during a meeting to review the city's reaction to the recent snowstorm.

The snowball rolls downhill

Editor, The Times:

Seattle's machinations over last month's winter weather continue to make headlines ["City roads chief gets icy reception," Times, News, Jan. 6]. Your readers, however, should be wondering whether Seattle's elected officials are taking a reasoned approach or whether The Times is stirring the pot. Along with tales of the most recent national financial rip-off, attempts at a bailout and congressional political infighting, it would be encouraging to know we're a bit more rational.

We should be asking what level of snow and ice "response" is appropriate and affordable.

Mayor Greg Nickels' decision to renew use of salt during such storms seemed abrupt. Would it have made much difference for these storms? The City Council's investigation, reported in The Times, appears to be an attempt to place blame for an act of God. Didn't other jurisdictions in the region witness the same storms with similar difficulties? Isn't Spokane, with more experience with these conditions, still buried?

The storms were sensational in a devastating way, coming at an inopportune time for the holiday season. But, if they were an anomaly and we're unwilling to spend the money for "a plow on every street," elected officials should simply make sure city staff is asking, "What did we learn and how can we improve our response next time?"

-- Martin Nizlek, Bellevue

Low-salt diet preferred

With temperatures dropping again, it's as good of time as any to tell Mayor Greg Nickels (and the rest of Seattle) that using salt on the road is a bad idea. It's corrosive.

You saw how dirty your car looked after driving through the snow. Imagine that instead of a mixture of dirt and sand, it is salt, slowly eating away the finish on your car. There is no way you are going to wash your car in this weather, so that salt will be encrusted for some time, exposing areas that will begin to rust when the snow does melt.

The effectiveness of the current plows has been extensively debated, but what about salt? Rock salt lowers the freezing point of water only1-3 degrees. With the temperatures we had during our winter storm, this solution would be only partially effective

-- Micki Ream, Seattle

Slip-sliding away:
post-storm bike hazards

In the wake of recent snowstorms, the city of Seattle scattered sand on the streets. This has created hazardous conditions for cyclists. The loose sand presents a braking problem, particularly on steep hills for bicycle commuters.

On some roads, the loose sand together with debris that emerged from the snow covers the right shoulder, leaving cyclists little choice but to go out into the center or the right-hand side of the lane, increasing the chances of a possible collision with an oncoming car.

If the city has made a mess, it should to clean it up. We should call on our public officials to sweep the streets clean for the New Year.

-- Ruth Wilson, Seattle

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January 6, 2009 4:30 PM

The Gaza war

Posted by Letters editor

Where is the outrage?

Are Americans so immune to violence that they cannot utter a word against the crimes of Israel in its shock-and-awe assault on the Palestinian people ["Israeli troops cut Gaza in two," News, Jan. 5]?

We hear only that President-elect Obama is "monitoring" the situation and that President Bush is urging "restraint." Or that we have only one president at a time.

Why are the media denying the outrage by their weak coverage, their meek editorials or their silence? Why do they deny the underlying truths of the conflict in Palestine?

Why are the leaders of our universities not expressing any outrage over the bombing of the university in Gaza?

Why do our church leaders remain silent on the bombing of mosques?

Why are the members of our Congress and Senate mute on the deaths and sufferings of Palestinians caused by our weapons?

Why do the leaders in the United Nations remain mute on the war crimes of Israel?

Where are the leaders in the United Nations who call for sanctions on Israel?

Where are the jurists and lawyers who call for justice and the prosecution of Israeli war criminals?

Where are the governors, mayors and city council members who support divestment in corporations doing business in Israel?

Where are the poets and writers who are supposed to be experts on the use of words in describing the human condition, the suffering of children, women and men, and the lies of governments?

Where is our common humanity or at least our common decency? Or are Americans so wrapped up in their own little myopic worlds that they can turn a blind eye to suffering?

Where is our sense of justice?

Where is the outrage?

-- Barbara & J. Glenn Evans, Seattle

Protest merely propaganda

The pro-Gaza rally and parade downtown on Saturday was just nuts. Such an extreme demonstration of anti-Israeli propaganda being visited upon Seattle is a disgrace. They fool no one.

Where were the protesters while Israel continually begged the international community to stop the terrorism and rocket attacks of Hamas and the random killing of innocent Israeli people. Israel left Gaza long ago.

For years, Hamas has vowed the destruction of Israel and honors no cease-fire agreements, all the while hoping to inflame and enlarge their perpetual war against Israel.

The saddest part is that Hamas was elected and elevated to power by the Palestinian people.

As a man, I pray for the peace of all. As an American, I am not fooled by loud propaganda and disinformation.

-- Richard Smith, North Bend

No friend of democracy

Israel must be stopped from invading Gaza to overthrow a freely, fairly elected democratic government of a country.

Israel no longer deserves that which it was granted in 1948. It is time to dissolve the artificially created geopolitical lines of 1948. Israel has abused the privilege. It no longer deserves the protection that was sought for peace since it has become the aggressor in the region now.

Enough already with this blind and ignorant support of Israel in the U.S. Stop trying to defend Israel's bad behavior. They just attacked and invade a democratic nation and they are wrong. They are no friends of democracy.

These comments are not anti-Semitic, they are anti-Israel the county. This has nothing to do with the religion of the country and people in the U.S. must realize there is a difference between being Israeli and being Jewish. They are not one and the same.

-- Michael T. Barr, Sammamish

Ongoing humanitarian crisis

Israel's current invasion of Gaza is not a "war against Hamas," as most major media outlets would have the American people believe. And it's certainly not a "response to rocket attacks," either. Neither of these analyses provides any context for recent events, and is a disservice to Americans desperately trying to understand the conflict unfolding in the Middle East.

What we're reading in the news is not simply a "war against terrorists," it's a wholesale ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population of Gaza -- an area roughly the size of Seattle, but with more than twice as many residents.

In fact, the 1.5 million residents of Gaza have been experiencing a humanitarian crisis ever since they elected Hamas in January 2006. Since then, Israel has frequently imposed sanctions on the population of Gaza, systematically denying them access to food, fuel, surgical supplies, medications and other basic necessities. Chronic malnutrition and a lack of access to vital medical supplies have left the residents of Gaza with few choices but to remain steadfast, or die a slow death. The recent massacre has simply sped up this process.

Now, with more than 430 Palestinian men, women and children killed and 2,250 more severely injured within just a few days, we are faced with a crisis that requires immediate resolution. And blaming Hamas while ignoring Israel's occupation will not bring peace.

-- Alex Becker, Seattle

A nearsighted view

Your editorial on Gaza Jan. 1 ["Gaza, the open wound"] is a myopic view of the half a century of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Your editorial only looked at the past year of the conflict while completely ignoring the sordid history of half a century of occupation. Also, your editorial view is akin to talking about the L.A. riots of 1992 without talking about the Rodney King police beatings, or the struggles of Nelson Mandela without the mention of apartheid.

If Israel is doing right for the Palestinians in the West Bank, is life in the West Bank any better than in Gaza. You fail to condemn disproportionate use of force that has crippled the life of innocent civilians.

-- Hyder Ali, Issaquah

What would you do?

The Seattle Times does a disservice to the truth when it editorializes that the Palestinians started the latest killing in Israel and Gaza and that Israel's actions are those of self-defense. Look back at your own reporting and you will find repeated acts of provocation by Israel, including bombing as recently as November and tightening the siege to prevent humanitarian efforts. If Israel can argue that its actions are in self-defense, so too can the people of Gaza.

Gaza is nothing more than a prison where virtually all human rights have been suspended or severely restricted. Israel has taken the Palestinian's land, their water, their livelihood and their lives. By ignoring U.N. resolutions and The World Court, and by limiting the issues about which it will bargain (while claiming that it has made generous offers) and while continuing to expand settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Israel has long deprived the Palestinians of all legal nonviolent forms of redress.

Ask yourself what you would do if you were treated like a Palestinian in Gaza.

-- H.G. Landau, Edmonds

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January 5, 2009 5:02 PM

The war in Gaza

Posted by Letters editor


Smoke rise into the sky during clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces at the border of Gaza City. Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza Jan. 4 and launched into night-time battles with Hamas forces after more than a week of air strikes.

Better not to intervene

Editor, The Times:

In attempting to justify Israel's invasion of Gaza, The Seattle Times editorial of Jan. 1 ["Gaza, the open wound"] makes the absurd claim that "Hamas is an open surrogate for Iran," as if Hamas is a mere pawn and there is no basis for Palestinian resistance to Israel's unjust siege and occupation.

The editorial echoes the Bush administration's position that Hamas is merely a proxy for a foreign country that is allegedly attempting to dominate the Middle East. Where have we heard this before? In the long history of the Cold War, a variant of this argument was used time and again to justify the CIA-orchestrated overthrows of the democratically-elected Mossadegh government in Iran, the democratically-elected Arbenz government in Guatemala and the democratically-elected Allende government in Chile.

In each case, the argument went, these governments threatened to tilt toward the Soviet Union or were merely pawns or proxies for the Soviets. In the interest of national security, the United States had to intervene to prevent them from falling into the Soviet orbit. American media failed to acknowledge that it was U.S. and British oil interests that sought the ouster of Mossadegh, the United Fruit Company that sought the ouster of Arbenz, and U.S. copper interests that sought the ouster of Allende.

Each time, U.S. intervention resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands, mostly poor, people. Now the same playbook is being used. It's well known that both the U.S. and Israel have been attempting to unseat Hamas ever since it won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006. First by denying economic aid and creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza by restricting food and medical supplies, then by attempting to foment a Palestinian civil war between Hamas and Fatah, and finally by violating the cease-fire with an attack on Gaza on Nov. 4.

The Bush administration's claim that it seeks to bring democracy to the Middle East is a lie since it can't respect the outcome of a democratic election. The Seattle Times editorial board is exposed as not much more than a propaganda tool for those business interests that seek U.S. domination of the Middle East.

-- Rod Such, Redmond

Tiny Israel defending itself

For seven years, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. The world remained silent. Now that Israel takes action to end the rocket onslaught, the world is outraged.

One wonders what the U.S., Russia, China, France, England, Germany and others would do if a terrorist group in a neighboring country fired rockets into their land for seven years. Would they be as patient as Israel?

And think of Israel's demands: an end to Palestinian attacks, international supervision of any truce and a halt to Hamas rearming. Are these so outrageous?

But, one should not be surprised at the anti-Israel response. Historically, each time Israel is attacked, the world remains silent. However, when Israel responds, the world immediately demands a cease-fire. Tiny Israel, surrounded by billions of enemies, is criticized whenever it defends itself.

At long last the critics should ask themselves, "What would my country do if we were surrounded by large enemies sworn to destroy us, and one began lobbing rockets at us?"

-- Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, Wilmette, Ill.

This is a humanitarian crisis

The Seattle Times is known for outstanding investigative reporting, but it is beyond my imagination how the writer of your Jan. 1 editorial, "Gaza, the open wound," could give credence to President Shimon Perez's bewilderment over "motives and purposes of the ones who are shooting at us." Clearly, well-documented reports of events over the last 12 months were overlooked.

The siege on Gaza began long before Israel's total blockade on Nov. 5. Since January 2007, international humanitarian-aide organizations and news sources have reported intermittent closures that sharply restricted the flow of essential foods: milk and flour, medicine, cooking and motor fuel, paper, fertilizer, spare parts for hospital and farm equipment, and access to clean water. Aide agencies must pay Israel for storage while shipments are impounded. Running out of food and cash, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for feeding 750,000 citizens, had to suspend operations on Dec. 18. For over a year, letters from Palestinians who work in a Christian hospital in Gaza City and the U.N. World Food Program attest to these reports.

Tzipi Livni, quoted in Friday's New York Times as saying, "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza … no need for a humanitarian truce," is either deluded or duplicitous. True, Israel lets some supplies in, sometimes, but the belief that security for Israel will be won by keeping the people of Gaza in a prolonged state of fear, deprivation and desperation is likely to win more Palestinian hearts and minds for Hamas than for Israel and produce more defiance.

--Mary Pneuman, Medina

Stepping in their shoes

At 139 square miles, the Gaza Strip is 3.5 square miles smaller than Seattle (142.5 square miles). Let's say King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties (combined, the size of Isreal) decided to round up all registered Democrats, seize their property and jam them into Seattle, tripling the population and referring to those who objected or resisted as "pigs" and "terrorists"?

Then let's imagine that Seattle voters elected a city council that had the audacity to demand that its excess citizens be allowed to return to their homes and, in response, the counties retaliated with a brutal blockade, not allowing delivery of food or medicine in an attempt to coerce Seattle to vote in a more docile and compliant city council. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, a few homemade rockets might start blowing a few potholes in the streets of Bellevue or Everett or Tacoma? I suppose it's just a matter of perspective.

-- Robert Jones, Bellevue

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January 5, 2009 5:00 PM

Seattle peace protest

Posted by Letters editor

Legitimacy first

Your Jan. 4 article by Emily Heffter was misleadingly headlined, "Seattle protesters march for peace" [News, Jan. 4], but it should have said "Seattle rally supports Hamas." None of the quoted protesters seemed to care that Hamas backed out of peace negotiations and has consistently provoked Israel, whose very existence and legitimacy it denies.

Those of us who desperately want peace know that acknowledging one's enemy as a legitimate entity is the first step. Israel wants peace and is willing to negotiate with Hamas, but it doesn't have a partner in the process. Marching for peace is not synonymous with criticizing Israel. Let's get the record straight.

-- Mindy Stern, Mercer Island

The right to defend itself

Your report on the Westlake Park demonstration on behalf of "peace" in Gaza is at once depressing and encouraging.

Depressing because 500 people support the inalienable right of genocidal Islamicist fanatics daily to fire rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians with impunity.

Encouraging because nearly every demonstrator interviewed by your reporter is either a Muslim or a Jew, that is, a resident of some demographically tiny island amid the vast sea of Americans who, according to most opinion polls, support Israel's right to defend itself from Iranian-sponsored savagery.

-- Edward Alexander, Seattle

The lone city

The demonstration of support for Hamas and the Palestinian people makes Seattle the only city in the U.S. that has shown its disdain for Israel and its effort to protect its existence on this planet.

People in our city are demonstrating against Israel, our ally and a country that is fighting a terrorist group whose only goal is to annihilate the nation of Israel, with no regard for the Palestinian people whom they willingly sacrifice along the way.

It makes Seattle a very disappointing place to live.

-- Madeleine Eddy, Mercer Island

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January 5, 2009 5:00 PM

Seattle snow removal

Posted by Letters editor

Time to get real

The Greater Seattle lowland areas receive a large snowfall like this once every blue moon. For Seattle and other cities in the area to spend tax dollars on unnecessary snow-removal equipment and supplies that will, for the most part, stand idle is irresponsible. Citizens need to "get real" and understand that Seattle, as well as surrounding area cities and small towns, did a good job of keeping the major streets clear and passable.

Streets make up thousands of miles in the Greater Seattle area. No reasonable amount of snow-removal equipment will be able to clear all of these streets. Sometimes we, as citizens, have to prepare ourselves for this type of event, not expecting and relying on government to solve all of our problems, especially the weather.

I am confident that public works officials in the Seattle area are looking at how they can make improvements for upcoming winter storms.

-- Scott Newbold, Auburn

Governments should make safety a priority

Having lived in areas with both frequent snow/ice storms and infrequent snow/ice storms in the winter, I believe I can offer some perspective and even a good idea or two regarding the area's snow-removal woes.

Cities and counties with few snow/ice storms do more than the municipalities and counties surrounding the Puget Sound. Our local and county governments acted irresponsibly and inexcusably during this and earlier snow/ice events.

To be fair, it's not just Seattle mayor's issue, despite the focused news coverage of Mayor Greg Nickels. Many of the area's elected officials are insubordinate on this issue. Snow/ice removal is not a new issue in the area.

What makes our local government differ from those more rational governments are indefensible eco-activist philosophies and irresponsible (and perhaps illegal) refusal to provide prudent public safety and infrastructure for healthy commerce.

Accepted best practices in government programs and accounting apply all costs and benefits to the served public before creating policies and practices. Costs to commerce due to customers, workers, and materials not able to move following a storm are huge. The cost due to unsafe public roadways is great, especially when governments don't barricade unsafe roads. Dare I say, the likely direct cost to governments pales in comparison to the costs to public safety and commerce.

So, what should governments do if budgets would be strained by doing their best to provide safe roads and movement by commerce? The answer is simple: Priorities. Set prudent priorities. May I suggest the three most important and inviolate priorities of local and county governments are to provide for public safety, provide for healthy commerce and provide for effective education. I submit, all other policies and programs are predisposed and subordinate to these priorities.

In this area, prudent cost/benefit analyses are either absent or infrequent and shallow in scope. Perhaps making local and county governments legally accountable for violating governing enabling acts, articles of incorporation and mandates is in order.

Sadly, our elected officials only make excuses or downplay their responsibility and accountability to the public they serve. Nickels proved this beyond any doubt during meetings with the news media. May our memories be long and our votes be accountable.

-- Dick Schaertl, Kirkland

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January 5, 2009 5:00 PM

Upcoming legislative session

Posted by Letters editor

Ready to pay forward

The world has changed, yet Washington stands still and refuses to shift because politicians are polarized. They are too concentrated on conflicting positions, disabling them to think of solutions serving the greater good. What has happened to the pioneer spirit of Americans? A decision delayed solving problems for a positive or required solution is a strategy of inaction. The result of this delay tactic is to simply blame another, creating an endless cycle of victimization with an outcome of anger, frustration and no solution.

The media are advising the public to brace for legislative inaction from the 2009 legislative session because of budget deficits. The traditional "wagon circling" has already commenced. Need I say more about politicians to far exceed the public's expectations for 2009?

In view of the aforementioned, I would like to advance two unpopular recommendations certain to guarantee not being re-elected, however that do coincide with future economic realities, which are: "pay forward" or "if you want to use a service you pay for it."

Consider, if you will, a strategic plan for education and transportation reform implemented and executed by 2015 with a sliding tuition fee starting in the sixth grade to offset costs, as well as upgrade teacher salaries. All Interstate roads would be tolled; a 100 percent, aboveground mass-transit system would be constructed in Seattle and Spokane.

Simply stated, all goods and services have a reasonable cost for use and I think you will find a public appetite for change in the Pacific Northwest. I would invite you to think about what it means to live in a globalized economy or integration as the key concept since the world is connected via the Web. We live in a world far different from the post World War II period of internationalism, featuring a Cold War system with a world divided by walls.

I am willing to pay forward for opportunity costs to change. Are you willing to do the same? As I see it, the options are to stay in the past by reducing budgets and continuing to grow apart or to find a way to grow together.

-- Charles H. Collins, Kent

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January 5, 2009 5:00 PM

Alaskan Way Viaduct

Posted by Letters editor

Don't do as the San Franciscans do

Jim Vesely's paean to San Francisco's Embarcadero is long on waterfront ambience and short on transportation considerations ["Embarcadero, thy daughter is the Alaskan Way Viaduct," editorial columnist, Jan. 4].

The Embarcadero was mostly an exit to San Francisco, not a through-way. San Francisco is also served by a limited-access arterial along its west edge, and a freeway entering town near the city's east edge. There's also a monster freeway down the Bay's east shore, serving a shipping industry and residents. Another freeway runs east of this for those bypassing the Bay Area. They're all laced together with several spurs running east to west. There are five bridges across the Bay. Driverless Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains travel east and south through a network of mostly tunneled lines. Besides the iconic waterfront cable cars, there are newer trolleys.

Meanwhile Seattle has one freeway through it, with a short Interstate 405 spur. We will have negligible rail alternatives even when voter-approved additions are completed. We also have the waterfront viaduct connected to limited-access arterials, serving city residents and a huge industrial infrastructure. The inevitable gridlock resulting from viaduct closures amply demonstrates a surface-street alternative is unacceptable. Basing transportation decisions on the Embarcadero experience is a tragic mistake.

-- Bill Butler, Seattle

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