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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 19, 2008 at 4:06 PM

Metropolitan life

Thomas James Hurst / The Seattle Times

Property owned by West Marine, a longtime marine-supply business located on Mercer Street, is being condemned by the city, part of a long-range plan to widen and beautify the Street.

We must do better

Editor, The Times:

I am of the opinion that fixing the “Mercer mess” is a very questionable use of resources [“Council bets hopes on federal stimulus plan for Mercer,” Times, News, Nov. 18].

Surely, we can see the handwriting on the wall. Lines at food banks are increasingly lengthy.

Homeless, including families with children, are scattered around our city, living in filth and danger.

Community health clinics are strapped for resources and losing ground every year. In every age range, folks are suffering.

How can we decide to leave potholes and bridges in disrepair and consider, even for a moment, fixing the “Mercer mess”? How can we ignore the needs of our people?

Our mayor pushes to make Seattle a “world-class” city.

I prefer a city that honors its citizens by providing housing, transportation, health care and other human services. That would make Seattle a world-class city — not pandering to developers (and a mayor) who may want an easier route to South Lake Union and its amenities.

Wake up. We can and must do better.

— Nancy Bryant, Seattle

Not so average

I appreciate that you have published a positive story during the economic downturn [“Average King County family ‘pretty solid,’.” News, Nov. 18].

However, you have neglected to emphasize an important detail that sets the Bentler family ahead of many that are not so “solid.” They purchased their home eight years ago for about half of what it’s worth today. Incomes have certainly not doubled in eight years.

Do you think the Bentler’s could have afforded a $300,000 home eight years ago with their income? Not a chance.

Today, many two-income professional families starting their careers are priced out of owning such a “modest” home.

My wife and I make about $57,000 and we have a young child and a dog, much like the Bentlers. We live in an apartment because we cannot afford the mortgage payment required for today’s home prices. Too many families live in communities where home prices are way out of alignment with incomes.

A rise in foreclosures and sluggish home sales are a symptom of this misalignment. A price correction in the housing market is badly needed. Who will they sell homes to if a whole generation of young professionals cannot buy them?

— Glenn Kohler, Olympia

Let’s be real

Since Oct. 31, 12 people have died from youth violence [“Seattle to spend more on homeless; garbage, water, parking rates to rise,” News, Nov. 18].

For decades, suburbanites have had the nonchalant attitude, “this will not happen in my neighborhood.” This attitude led adults to believe the deviant and criminal behavior of the youth will not negatively impact the upper echelon of society.

We have raised a generation of children with no awareness of self and who are unloving, uninvolved and uncaring. We call them misguided youth; you can only be misguided if you received improper guidance. We looked down upon the youth in disgust with their sagging clothes, crooked baseball caps and revealing clothing. I remember my days of the AJ jeans, cross colors, white T-shirts, khaki pants, the Kangol and the NWA blasting from my boom box on the back of the bus.

But today it is time to get off the fence, stop whining about how much things will cost, what programs we need to establish, what label to use and most important stop living in blind fear. What we should do — at no cost — when you see young men in their sagging clothing or young women in their revealing clothing, stop and look them in the eyes, say “Hello, how are you today?” — instead of turning your head and looking down at the ground.

We should always show the youth with our words, deeds and a positive visions how great an asset to society they can become.

I grew up around pimps, drug dealers, hustlers and gang bangers. I needed a reality check and these young people need one as well.

We must show them what life looks like if they continue on their destructive path. Show them the lifeless bodies of the young people who have died from violence. They do not need to see those nonthreatening, prom-dance photos that we see in the media.

We need to show the courtroom photos of the bereaved parents passing out, screaming and yelling because of the eternal pain, deep sorrow and emptiness they suffer. Show them there is no glamour when a jury discloses their verdict and a judge’s sentencing is real.

Show them the photos of children in their orange jumpsuits in chains at Echo Glen and the lonely, haunting and cold jail cells of Maple Lane with a community toilet and shower.

If all else fails, show them videos of McNeil Island or Monroe penitentiaries. Explain to them the staggering number of their high-school friends they thought were cool who are now or will become jobless, homeless, addicted or incarcerated.

The game is still the same; it is only fiercer.

— Elder Wyatt, Seattle

Now more than ever

Today, you reported that Seattle will finance youth-violence prevention and social services for the homeless population on a two-year budget approval.

This is interesting because I recently began outreaching to the homeless population in San Francisco, and was wondering how Seattle, where I am originally from, helps the homeless. As a community member, I feel extremely optimistic that during this recession, the city still recognizes the importance of selflessness for others in greater need and is not going through budget cuts for social programs that are vital to our community.

What people don’t realize is that because we are in a recession, more people will need to access food banks and other social services and that change takes time. Sure, we don’t want to pay more for utilities or parking meters, but it’s just like gas prices; we complained about how high they got but still drove anyway because we had to.

One thing that could really make a difference is better education about homelessness. I know many people who are quite ignorant about issues surrounding homelessness and as a result don’t understand the need for funding of important programs.

— Karen Hong, San Francisco, Calif.

Comments | More in Economy, homeless, King County, Pop culture, Public safety, Seattle, Transportation

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