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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 2, 2008 at 3:41 PM

Weighing local ballot measures

Light-rail expansion is the right path

As a Seattleite, I often pride myself on being in an area where voters take a deep look at the issues or candidates and make the intelligent choices.

It’s great that Sound Transit Proposition 1 has received so much coverage this year but I’m afraid we can’t see the forest for the trees [“Bus vs. Light Rail,” Times, page one, Oct. 29].

The debate has become bogged down by numbers from both proponents and opponents of Prop 1: $17.9 billion vs. $107 billion; 1 million riders per day vs. 1 percent of daily trips; transit relief in 2 years or 15 years.

Instead of voting based on misleading numbers, I hope voters will choose between the competing visions for the transportation future of Seattle.

I strongly believe the integrated and diverse-transit network promised by Proposition 1 would lead Seattle down the right path. It’s a path where commuters have real transportation options. A path where the most heavily traveled transportation corridors will be served by high capacity and efficient light rail. A path that will address congestion, the increasing cost of energy, population growth, over-dependence on fossil fuels, global warming emissions and unseen challenges over the horizon.

Choose your vision, and vote for it on Nov. 4.

— Alison Graham, Seattle

Follow the leaders

I recently spent almost a week in Portland and took their Max light rail every day. It’s a great system and It’s packed with riders. It’s has spurred intelligent development all along its route.

Vancouver’s Sky Train zips you along its line and major buses run so frequently that you don’t need to even carry a schedule. Every major European city has major-rail transit, and lots of the smaller systems.

Here we are in Seattle, voting down initiative after initiative to catch up with other major cities to and actually build some decent public transit.

Sound Transit Proposition 1 may not be perfect, but it gets buses on the ground now, and builds or extends light rail along our key regional corridors, so other forms of transportation can plug into them.

There’s a reason it’s supported by every major environmental groupI hope we’ll finally take the chance to build the core transit spine that will knit our region together, let us use our ever-more-expensive private cars far less (or in many areas and for many people not at all), and let us deal with the overriding threat of global climate change.

— Paul Loeb, Seattle

Get on with it

Contrary to your story, I do not regard an expanded-bus system as an alternative to light rail.

No matter how many additional buses are put on, I would not ride the bus, except in a dire emergency. Buses are inconvenient and they clog traffic.

As someone who has lived in cities with light rail systems both here and abroad, I appreciate their convenience and speed and how they free the rider from traffic congestion.

I have long hoped Seattle would at last muster the political will to build a light rail system.

— Jon Lehman, Seattle

Continue the growth with the parks levy

On Oct. 27, a ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the 1968 Forward Thrust bond issue and announced the new name for Freeway Park as “Jim Ellis Freeway Park.”

Forward Thrust was described as setting “the stage for Seattle to become one of the premiere cities on the west coast and to win awards such as most-livable city.”

In more recent years, voters approved measures such as the 1989 open space and trails bond that preserved more than 600 acres of green space in Seattle, and the 2000 pro-parks levy that funded park acquisition and development projects in nearly every neighborhood in Seattle.

Seattle Proposition 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot, the parks and green spaces levy, will continue this legacy. If approved, the levy will provide funds to preserve key properties in Seattle’s green spaces and to create and improve parks in our most densely-developed neighborhoods.

As our city continues to grow, we need to ensure that it grows intelligently and ecologically, and remains a place we are happy to call home.

Like Forward Thrust, the Seattle parks-and-green-spaces levy will help ensure that Seattle remains a livable city.

–Catherine Anstett, Seattle

We’re pushing out the little people

A plea to my fellow Seattleites: Citizens, before we do what we’ve done countless times before and vote for every tax hike presented to us, I beg you to stop and consider the ultimate consequence of this seemingly knee-jerk choice. That is, the end of Seattle being a livable city for anyone but the rich elite.

How so? All of the apparently small and allegedly justified taxes, whether they be minor increments in the sales tax, property tax “lid lifts” or even specific taxes on hotel rooms, car rentals and restaurant meals, mound up year after year. Taken together they are eating away at the standard of living of the everyday, hardworking Seattle resident — that is, you, me and probably most folks you know.

Even if we don’t pay a given tax directly, we’re still paying them in the form of higher rents or increased prices for just about everything. Every store you shop at that incurs those new taxes (which would be every store within the city limits) will pass them on to you in the form of higher prices.

It’s an all but perennial chant among political candidates to maintain Seattle as a place for working families, but despite the populist appeal of the phrase, little is actually done.

Most if not all of those same candidates, after having entered office, propose these nickel-and-dime tax increases that by small but definite degrees erode the income of our “working families” while providing little if any real benefit.

They all talk a good game about improving the Pike Place Market, expanding and improving parkland or increasing mass transit, but what good is any of it if you can’t afford a sudden hike in your rent or increase in food prices?

Given embarrassing failures like the automated public bathroom debacle, do you really think government officials will be any more careful with our tax dollars in the future, especially since we’ve previously been so enthusiastic to give them up? And in our current economic travails, asking to have yet more money taken out of our hands and put into government-run projects (or even more reckless para-governmental authorities like Sound Transit) seems masochistic at best.

So please, fellow Seattleites, steel yourselves and turn a deaf ear to the pleadings of those who, despite their expressed good intentions, would in sad fact make our city a less livable one for those who can least afford it: you and me.

Vote “no” on all of the myriad tax proposals Tuesday. What good is a “world-class” city if only the upper class can enjoy it?

— Frederic Riebs, Seattle

You don’t know me

Driving north of downtown Seattle made me wonder what those people with political bumper stickers, those people with signs in their yards and those standing on the street waving political signs must think of me.

They are advising me, a complete stranger, to vote the way they are planning to vote. Why in the world would any sane person make a decision to vote the way those strangers are going to vote, just because they advertise on their car, lawn or on a picket-like sign?

One does not know how responsible they are, nor is it it is known what their educational background is for them to be qualified to make the choices being recommended.

In addition, it is not known how thoroughly they researched the opposing candidates’ positions, nor what their motives are for voting the way they plan to vote.

Despite all of that, they want a person to trust their judgment and vote as they will vote. They are insulting a person’s intelligence.

— Thomas Markley, Bellevue

Comments | More in Local ballot measures, Seattle, Seattle City Council

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