Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters: "The state is the big winner here"

Home-sales tax

Story doesn't address people who will pay if proposal is enacted

Editor, The Times:

I was amazed that your article concerning the disputed increase in excise tax for home sales ("Allies split over home-sales tax plan" Local News, Nov. 28) never really addressed the group that will be paying the tax: the buyer. In fact, this tax hurts the poor the most.

The builders association would love to see an end to those pesky impact fees, but does anyone really believe that they will altruistically pass these savings on to their buyers?

The Realtors say that they are on the side of their sellers, but sellers will simply raise the price of their home to account for the tax.

So, the losers here are the buyers who will pay the tax regardless. The poor, who already struggle to afford housing, will struggle even more.

The state is the big winner here. They see the shrinking new-home market as the Growth Management Act swallows up land to preservation and they realize that housing prices will continue to soar because of our geographic limitations. So tapping into the resale market will provide years of revenue that can only increase. Land, after all, is a finite resource, and they know it.

— Kathlyn Mickel, Burlington

Poisonous substances

Consider the dose

In your story about phasing out the fumigant methyl bromide, ("U.S. drags its feet in phasing out banned pesticide" Page 1, Nov. 28) you quote a worried teacher that "A little dribble of poison is still poison." Hers is an all-too-common misconception. As Paracelsus stressed in 1535, "It is the dose that makes the poison!" All known poisons have "threshold amounts" below which they are no longer poisons.

Consider botulinus poison — the most dangerous of poisons produced by any living organism. Two years ago, more than a million Americans had it injected into their foreheads to get rid of wrinkles — and no one got sick! At the dose used, it was no longer a "poison."

— William O. Robertson, M.D., medical director, Washington Poison Center, Seattle

Monorail collision

Blow it up — fast

How can the monorails collide? Aren't they on separate tracks? Who needs terrorists, we've got engineers. And didn't the monorail folks say they could run two trains on one track? Good thing we didn't fall for that one.

But what should we do now? The last ugly concrete monolith we had was the Kingdome and we blew it up because of a leaky roof. This monorail thing is a real threat. I say blow it up quickly before they make us vote on another monorail initiative.

— Frank Lufkin, Seattle

Ripped-off public

Suspicious Monorail supporters may view Saturday's collision as deliberately forcing the system to commit suicide. The real problem, however, is Raymond Kaiser Engineers' miserable 1988 engineering job.

Not only did their design force the trains to play chicken, but (remember?) the extended line to Westlake Center was introduced with a bang: The train took a big, loud chunk out of the Westlake Station platform. Gosh, someone must have moved it too close, since there was no other train involved.

Privatization, and caving to private interests, ripped off the public and jeopardized its safety. Can Seattle learn a lesson from this?

— Judy Moise, Seattle

We need real transit

The horrors of reading Nicole Brodeur's column on the monorail ("Monorail hangs over our heads" Nov. 29). The monorail is dead, the old one is busted and here springs to life a discussion of special-interest streetcars for South Lake Union. Start talking about a King/Snohomish/Pierce tri-county authority for rapid transit not unlike the BART in San Francisco. Or talk about a Seattle area subway. Not light rail or streetcar, a subway. Talk about real transit, grade separated, for the region that needs it. Stop the chatter about the South Lake Union streetcars and the patch-here, bus-there, streetcar-over-there Seattle method.

— Dave Riggs, Seattle

Sad — and expensive

"Monorail trains collide;" "Snoqualmie Pass worries holiday travelers"; "Bus-tunnel error years ago is costly in shutdown today"; and "Trolley line to close until new service barn is built." The headlines speak and still there is no public outcry for accountability.

What else can be done to the transportation infrastructure? I am sure glad the inmates who are running this asylum were given several billions dollars more in our taxes to play with. If it were not so sad (and expensive), it would be fun to watch.

— Rick Murphy, Shoreline


Public doesn't want further expansion

On Nov. 22, The Times published King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng's guest column "State Gambling Commission needs to be reined in" outlining the many problems with the state Gambling Commission and Spokane Tribe draft agreement. Like Maleng, I believe it would have caused the number and size of tribal casinos in Washington to literally explode. For the first time, the state and local governments would have received a cut. Sounds like a good deal, until you hear what the tribe would get in return: 7,500 electronic machines (4,000 at one location, up from 1,500), permission to operate a casino off the tribal reservation (opening the door to megacasinos in our downtowns and neighborhoods) and 24/7 operations.

Almost worse, the agreement would have made the state budget dependent on a regular dose of tribal gaming monies. And, because of "most favored nation" clauses in their compacts, other tribes could have inked the same deal.

Gov. Christine Gregoire asked the Gambling Commission to reconsider portions of the agreement, but she still likes parts of it. I say we must not sell out. The public does not want a massive expansion of gambling in Washington. The Gambling Commission and Gregoire should reject anything that even resembles the draft agreement.

— State Sen. Jim Honeyford, Sunnyside

The food connection

Strawberries in winter are nothing to scoff at

In Jeff Voltz's Nov. 24 guest column, "Taking back our food system" he worries that "We are becoming more and more disconnected from our food and the land and people that produce it. This is costing us and it is threatening our food security."

Modern agribusiness has made food cheaper, more plentiful, and more varied than could have been imagined a century ago, all while freeing millions of people from having to be farmers.

Food security? America's biggest food problem is having too much.

Voltz laments that the average grocery item travels 1,500 miles before being purchased, but when everyone eats locally, a crop failure or bad weather makes everyone starve locally. The 19th-century Irish could have used some groceries from 1,500 miles away. See present-day Africa for how well the local model is working.

I don't want to "take back my food system." I'm glad corporations grow, process, ship, store and sell food for me. Granted, modern tomatoes taste like wood, but I can buy strawberries in winter, chickens in nuggets, 14 kinds of orange juice, and still have time to write cranky letters.

— Bill Muse, Seattle

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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