Online only letters to the editor
Editor, The Times:
Gov. Christine Gregoire's eminently reasonable decision in the matter of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement has established a new gold standard. ["Gregoire declares tunnel dead; mayor says let the people vote," Times, Local News, Jan. 18].
She made Mayor Greg Nickels a fair offer. Her criteria were simple, concise, straightforward and unambiguous. Delivering the greatest benefit to the greatest number in an efficient and timely manner seems to have been her only agenda. She was neither distracted nor intimidated by Seattle politics. She withstood the mayor's political charms and she is standing by her judgment.
All I can say is, it's about damn time somebody like Gov. Gregoire showed up!
— E. John Rupnick, Seattle
Here's a different proposal to resolve the Alaskan Way Viaduct standstill:
1) Tear down the viaduct.
2) Use Highway 99 as a way into and out of Seattle, not through Seattle.
3) Use the money to fix the I-5 mess through Seattle and/or create mass rapid transit in the right of way.
1) Beautiful viaduct-free waterfront.
2) Give people the incentive to take mass rapid transit.
3) Fix the I-5 bottleneck.
The government created the current infrastructure model giving people the means and incentive to drive everywhere. People are going to have to get used to the idea of driving less, so let's use some common-sense alternative solutions to begin the thought transformation.
— Joe Beyer, Seattle
I am deeply disappointed by the statement signed by Mayor Greg Nickels and City Councilmember Jan Drago to Gov. Christine Gregoire in response to her determination that the state of Washington will not finance a tunnel replacement for Highway 99 through downtown Seattle.
After first denying the public a vote in the tunnel vs. raised roadbed options for the viaduct, Mayor Nickels now laments the option of a vote being snatched away by the governor. Nowhere but in process-oriented Seattle could we have a mayor treat citizens with such hypocrisy.
Remember, this is the person who supported -- nay, advanced, a fourth vote on the monorail -- only to snatch away that support, working behind the scenes to ensure the ballot would fail. This makes it clear that Nickels is not interested in transportation solutions except for his pet projects like the cost-overrun Sound Transit and his cost-estimated inflated tunnel of love.
I am saddened by the mayor's arbitrary approach to transportation. His ideas skip across the bounds of financial reality like a flat stone across water.. Though the tunnel option is less than 10 percent designed and cost estimates are deliberately deflated, Nickels says the money will be found. This, when everyone else looking into the matter cannot see the dollars anywhere.
Then, when friction develops over his pet project, he quickly throws an even less-thought-out "hybrid" plan. Where his tunnel at least had the benefit of more than a year's worth of review, the mayor's "hybrid" plan had less than a month. And now, petulantly, Nickels chides the governor that Seattleites voices will not be heard and their expectations of government stymied, their choices not respected.
This is not about choice for the future of our city. It isn't about politics in Olympia. It's all about the inflated ego of the mayor. He will move forward with his newly thought-out plans to put the question on the ballot. He could have done this months ago. We could have saved millions of dollars voting on the viaduct issue along with the upcoming Seattle School District issues.
But, no. Mayor Nickels has already decided the future of our city. He will neither follow the will of the people of Seattle, nor the dictates of Olympia.
— Peter Stekel, Seattle
Once all the political posturing, bickering, back-biting and buck-passing is finally finished, it now appears that Seattle is still going to have a viaduct in one form or another. Given all the current cost-guesstimates, it also seems the smart money says "let's fix the one we already have, and get on to other more pressing matters" like maybe fixing potholes and synchronizing some traffic signals.
For those folks who say the present Alaskan Way Viaduct is too ugly, visually intrusive or a blight on the civic landscape, I offer the following rebuttal. Seattle already has a number of more recent structures that by comparison, not to mention much public opinion, make the beloved viaduct seem like the epitome of function, design and practicality.
Let's start with Experience Music Project, move on to a couple of new sports stadiums, followed by the downtown library. And the looks and scale of a number of newer downtown high rises and condos aren't exactly what might be called soul-stirring. At the risk of offending our more intellectually-aware citizenry, I'll refrain from delving into the subject of "public art." That, at least, gives many of us among the great unwashed a good belly laugh now and then.
So folks, try and learn to love your viaduct -- it'll probably be with us for another 50 years or so.
— Lee Fowble, Edmonds
It seems to me that opposing the will of the people exists in D.C. Washington and Seattle Washington. Mayor Greg Nickels needs to get real. His political will killed the monorail, and now who will be killed when the Alaskan Way Viaduct collapses while he is playing in his tunnel bubble?
Time to wake up, mayor. You've met your match. And she's tougher than you.
— Kenny Hamm
I agree with Mayor Greg Nickels. The Alaskan Way Viaduct greatly harms the appeal of the Seattle waterfront with all the traffic noise, etc.
Why not take down the viaduct and put in a surface street with walls? This could be an above ground tunnel with open/park space (like Freeway Park) or parking on top. This type of above-ground tunnel would not be as high as the current viaduct, and with concrete walls like we see on many urban freeways in Washington, vehicle noise would be less.
Putting in another viaduct would be a huge mistake to the future of our beautiful waterfront. We need a better option.
— Debby Howe, Shoreline
Seattle almost made a colossal mistake by initially opting for monorail instead of light rail. I fear the city is on the verge of making a similar colossal mistake with a likely vote to rebuild the Alaska Way Viaduct instead of opting for a tunnel or surface roadway solution.
Voters of Seattle could take a lesson from San Francisco. From 1959 until 1989, the Embarcadero Freeway was a mile-long, double-decked structure stretching from Broadway in North Beach to the Bay Bridge. It walled off the city from its waterfront in a cloak of concrete; its underside and neighboring dilapidated piers served primarily as parking lots for commuters. The area was deserted at night.
When the structure was irreparably damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, short sighted business interests in Chinatown and North Beach wanted the freeway rebuilt as it was and as fast as possible. Wiser heads prevailed.
Today the Embarcadero is a two and a half mile long vehicular promenade connecting Fisherman's wharf on the north to China Basin on the south. It is lined with Canary Island palms and a new two-track light-rail line. Piers have been rehabbed as waterfront offices or removed. New vistas abound. For decades the landmark Ferry Building was just a transit point for commuters from Marin County and the East Bay.
Since the removal of the freeway, its ground level storage spaces have be converted into shops and restaurants. Across the Embarcadero is the new Harry Bridges Park, a space once buried beneath freeway ramps. The entire Embarcadero is a joy to experience day or night. All this was possible because city and state officials worked together.
Now compare this happy ending with the specter facing Seattle -- a governor seemingly intent on dictating the most short-term, short-sighted, cost-effective solution -- one that will continue to disconnect downtown Seattle from its waterfront for decades to come, denying Seattle residents the full enjoyment of one of the most spectacular urban settings on the planet. In the end analysis, this is a quality of life issue, not just one of dollars and cents and the quickest and cheapest way to get cars and trucks from point A to point B.
— Gary Heil, University Place
Things are getting heated
Do I have this right? One person complains over a documentary ("An Inconvenient Truth") and the Federal Way School Board deprives all students from seeing this educational film? ["Moratorium on Al Gore film sparks own controversy," Local News, Jan. 16]. Unbelievable!
Oh, , the film can be shown if there is a credible opposing view shown as well. How convenient. There is no credible opposing view!
— Dick Fike, Seattle
Regarding "Environmental gauges: The fan malfunctions" [Northwest Voices, Jan 18]: How fortunate our country would have been to choose as our president former Vice President Al Gore, whom you accuse of being a gas guzzling entrepreneuras opposed to our current "leader," guilty of the fear and war-mongering corruption which continues to make us the laughingstock (at the very least) of the free world. We would be so fortunate to have someone as our president who graciously accepted a ridiculous (in the eyes of the world) defeat and continues to fight for the intelligent use of our resources and the dignity of mankind.
As we traveled in the U.K. in late 2005, we were continually asked by our thoughtful hosts "Why did your country re-elect that person a second time as your president?" All we could do was shake our heads in sadness and say, "We didn't vote for him, but his administration has put the 'fear of God' into many of our countrymen by using the pretense of religion for their deception."
Please wake up and pay attention to the knowledge of Mr. Gore and his professor, and listen to the proof that continues to pile up due to this country's selfish use of the earth's resources. We cannot continue to drive our gas guzzlers and rely so heavily on fossil fuels and survive. It may already be too late for our grandchildren's comfort, and indeed, their survival.
— Jeanie Blacksher, Des Moines
Regarding "Art Review: A critic's-eye view of the new Olympic Sculpture Park" [Local News, Jan. 18]: In her in-depth and excellent review of the Olympic Sculpture Park, Sheila Farr states that regarding Seattle Art Museum's [SAM] interest in contemporary art under it's founder Richard Fuller, it was "patrons Virginia and Bagley Wright who pushed the institution to join the party."
This they surely did, and Seattle owes this generous couple a huge debt of gratitude. It should be mentioned, however, that before the Wrights, there were the likes of Kenneth Callahan and other Northwest artists who benefited from Dr. Fuller's support, and who aroused his interest in contemporary art, as did the city's first modern art dealer, ZoÃ« Dusanne.
It was she who, in the early fifties, persuaded Dr. Fuller to begin to buy the work of internationally recognized contemporary artists; and thanks to her own and friends' gifts to SAM, a major collection had its beginnings. Her contribution to the Seattle art scene was recognized with a ZoÃ« Dusanne Tribute exhibition at the Seattle Art Pavilion in 1977, five years after her passing.
— Jo Ann Ridley, Shelton
Why does this new park not inspire me? Could it be that the people who are responsible for it are disgustingly wealthy when there are so many hard-working poor in Seattle? How can we celebrate blatant wealth when so many struggle to find affordable housing, living from paycheck to paycheck without health care?
All I will see when I look at the new sculpture park is the heart-breaking disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Shouldn't we be putting our money and efforts into flesh and blood children, children who will save or destroy this world, not bits of lovely concrete?
— Susan Young
As a neurologist, I was disturbed that a Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon used a live dog to demonstrate a medical device during a sales pitch ["Brain aneurysm induced in dog prompts inquiry," News, Jan. 13]. Not only was this procedure cruel -- the dog's brain aneurysm was intentionally induced -- but the doctor proceeded without permission from the hospital's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and acted against the hospital's policy on the use of live animals for sales training.
The surgeon's violation of USDA regulations, which required him to seek permission from the IACUC, is deplorable, but not unusual. The federal policies set forth to protect animals used in medical education and research are weak, and violators rarely face serious penalties for their actions. It illustrates the immediate need for the medical community to move away from using animals.
With today's scientific advances, we have effective and superior alternatives to using animals. For example, researchers in Switzerland developed an artificial model of cerebral aneurysms which can be used for testing medical devices and for medical training. Using non-animal, human-based models will save the lives of animals -- and give us better insight into the human body.
— Aysha Akhtar, M.D., Washington, D.C.
Regarding "'Idol': 37 million viewers" [Entertainment & the Arts, Jan. 18]: When people watch TV in record breaking numbers to see millionaire judges make fun of people's appearances or the fact that they are obviously mentally challenged, we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we refuse to watch, tasteless garbage won't make it to the airwaves.
We have become a society that enjoys watching poor misguided people stand before millions of people and make fools of themselves. There is no lack of talent in Seattle. Those contestants are hand-chosen to appear before Simon and company so they can mug for the camera and make their cruel remarks. There is only a lack of dignity in ourselves for watching these programs and supporting them.
Let's just go down to Western State Hospital and make fun of the mentally challenged patients. You know if they televised it, we would probably have a hit show on our hands! We are so sad. God forgive us.
— Steve Olson, Kent
There's no such thing as a free meal
Editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey's narrow-minded diatribe, "School meal is poor substitute for home-cooked involvement" [editorial column, Jan. 10], which discounted some children's need to receive breakfast at school.
His tirade reveals absolute ignorance of working-family realities. School children may leave for their bus stop by 7 a.m., and when both parents work, one or both of them may depart before that hour. Even families with double incomes run short of grocery money. Families can only do so much no matter how much they love their children.
His anecdotal Beaver Cleaver childhood 50 years ago when he "never heard there was a problem," and his secondhand tale of kids who ate dog food while their mother drove her sports car provide no basis for intelligent policy-making.
Conversely, the Children's Alliance (CA) annually brings together knowledgeable health and social-service professionals to develop their legislative agenda priorities. As a registered dietitian and a public-health nutritionist, I have had 25 years of experience helping young families. I have participated in these agenda-setting convocations, and considering the needs, I saw difficult decisions made.
School meals are among the best pro-academic and anti-hunger strategies ever employed in the United States. Recognize their value.
— Patricia Manuele, M.S., R.D., president, Washington State Food and Nutrition Council, Seattle
Bruce Mr. Ramsey decries expansion of free school breakfasts and lunches as one more abrogation of parental responsibility. In his sunny world, families gather together for leisurely breakfasts, presumably strengthening the social fabric as they do so.
Writing with more than a hint of self-righteous indignation, he notes that back in the days when he attended school, he never heard of anyone going hungry. He grudgingly states that for those children who can't get breakfast at home, perhaps, just perhaps, there should be a program in place.
If Mr. Ramsey cannot stomach the idea of free meals for children because it upsets his vision of parental responsibility, perhaps he can accept it on fiscal grounds: Generally accepted research shows that children who are hungry and malnourished do not learn. Of course, if Ramsey were interested in research he wouldn't base his arguments on embarrassingly myopic personal anecdotes.
— Susan Nakagawa
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