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Seattle Times letters to the editor

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Nikolaj Lasbo. Nikolaj (you can call him Niko if the j throws you off) assists in editing the editorial pages and online content. He produces the Editorials/Opinion section online and manages the Northwest Voices blog, culling and curating opinions from some of The Times' most engaged and thoughtful readers. He worked a stint at Microsoft helping produce news apps for Windows 8 and prior to that worked for The Seattle Times as a news producer. Nikolaj's alma mater is the University of Washington, he's a fifth-generation Seattleite (but grew up on Lopez Island), and he spends his winters skiing and his summers on the water. Email: nlasbo@seattletimes.com Telephone: 206/464-2326 Follow on Twitter: @nikolajlasbo

April 19, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan: How would it work to make cyclists pay?

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

The Seattle City Council approved a Bicycle Master Plan this week. The city would need to find about $20 million a year for 20 years to pay for it, editorial columnist Jonathan Martin wrote in an Opinion Northwest blog post Wednesday. How could the city raise the money?

Here are seven ideas submitted by readers. Add your voice to the conversation in the comments section or submit a letter to letters@seattletimes.com.

Pay a registration fee

The state currently registers all motor vehicles, trailers and vessels. Why not bikes?

Where I grew up, we had to pay a registration fee when we purchased a bike. The retailer put a sticker on my bike with a registration number.

So let’s start with requiring a special registration fee (based on value) on all adult-sized bikes, new or used, sold by a licensed retailer in Seattle or King County. The retailer would collect the fee and submit it with the purchase info, including name, address, etc., to the state Department of Transportation.

Current owners, those who purchase from private parties or over the Internet have one year to register their bikes or face being fined.

Dick LaPorte, Seattle

Licensing wouldn’t be practical

Again with “how can we stick it to those bicyclists?” Jonathan Martin said it himself: It’s been tried elsewhere and failed.

So since it’s failed elsewhere, let’s try it here? What would happen: Another level of bureaucracy would be created, which would, no doubt, cost more to set up and maintain than it would ever generate in revenues.

And to whom would we

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0 Comments | More in bicycling | Topics: Bicycle Master Plan, bicycling, Bob Kulwin

March 4, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Readers share stories of losing federal unemployment benefits

Thanh Tan recently asked for readers’ thoughts in the Opinion Northwest blog on Congress not extending federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.

Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.

Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.

What happens to them now?

Scroll down to read some of their stories. If you have a story to share, please add it to this form or at the bottom of this post.

Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:

I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.

— Sharon Washburn, Yakima

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0 Comments | More in Unemployment | Topics: Congress, Federal unemployment benefits, jobless benefits

February 19, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Death penalty: ending a barbaric practice; treat abortion similarly

The Walla Walla State Penitentiary. (The Seattle Times)

Last weekend, The Seattle Times editorial board reconsidered its position on capital punishment, spurred by Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that week of a moratorium on the death penalty while he’s in office. The Times now holds the death penalty as fundamentally flawed, overly expensive and morally wrong, and it is time for it to end in Washington. The best letters on the topic are below:

Ending a barbaric practice

I would just like to voice my enthusiastic support of The Seattle Times’ editorial against the death penalty [“It’s time for the state to end the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 18].

America really needs to look over its shoulder and see whom we are teamed up with on this barbaric practice. Hint: None of Western Europe or any other civilized developed nations are with us on this one. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis are not with us. Churches, judges and medical personnel who have seen the death penalty in action are not with us.

We need to step up and find a decent solution to administer justice to the criminals whom we believe to be unsafe in the community. Killing is not a business in which the state should be engaged.

Thank you so much for having the insight and the courage to point this out to your readers. You are earning our respect.

Shelley Gibson, Seattle

Treat abortion similarly

Thank you for demanding the end of the death penalty. Now draw up the courage to do the same with abortion. Abortion, like the death penalty, uses violence to solve a complicated social problem. A baby is a human being and not simply fetal tissue. And unlike many prisoners on death row, the baby in the womb is absolutely innocent.

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0 Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: abortion, death penalty, Peter D. Beaulieu

February 6, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Reader Roundtable: Seahawks’ Super Bowl win and celebration

Fourth Avenue is jammed just south of Yesler Way as fans await the Super Bowl champions parade to CenturyLink Field. (ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES).

I’ve received piles of letters and emails the past couple weeks leading up to, during and after the Seahawks Super Bowl win. Far more than for any other topic. The majority of responses I’ve sent on to sports editor Don Shelton because they addressed the team’s performance on the field, which is better left to the Sports section. But there are a number of topics that the Opinion section has addressed, such as Richard Sherman’s rant, the media’s reaction and the Super Bowl parade and its costs. Below are several readers’ responses to the issues that fall under the purview of Opinion:

Thanks for remembering Storm championships

Not to take anything away from the Seahawks’ fantastic Super Bowl win, but I’m glad The Times’ editorial board at least acknowledged the Seattle Storm [“Seahawks rule the NFL roost,” Opinion, Feb. 5]

I personally consider the Storm a major professional team, and the fact the team brought home championships in 2004 and 2010 puts them as the best of the WNBA in those two seasons. That is worthy of mention on any list of Seattle champions. There aren’t many major professional team sports opportunities for women in the area, even with the recent addition of the Seattle Reign soccer team.

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0 Comments | More in Reader Roundtable, Seattle Seahawks | Topics: Bill Lee, Demitri Anastassopoulos, Liz Strongman

January 29, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Reader Roundtable: Should Seattle move to a $15 minimum wage?

GABRIEL CAMPANARIO / THE SEATTLE TIMES

In November, voters in SeaTac approved a $15 minimum wage for airport-related work and now activists are taking that fight to Seattle. The issue is gaining national traction as well, with Obama pushing for a federal minimum wage of $10.10 in his State of the Union speech last night. Seattle Times readers debate the merits and downsides of raising the minimum wage to $15 in Seattle:

My small business would also be adversely affected

Thank you Judith Gille for stating so eloquently an important point that is being missed in the $15 an hour minimum wage discussion: the unintended consequences to small businesses like hers and mine, local businesses that make Seattle a special place to live [“A neighborhood business can’t support a $15 minimum wage,” Opinion, Jan. 27].

I have written to the mayor and the City Council expressing my concerns that a sudden and dramatic increase in what is already the biggest cost for most small businesses could be disabling. Large corporations with Seattle storefronts already enjoy many advantages due to their tremendous buying power and greater access to capital. Those advantages would allow them to absorb more easily this kind of dramatic change. It is small businesses that would be the most affected.

I don’t think you will find a small Seattle employer who does not support living wages because so many of us work long hours for very low pay, and so many of us have missed paychecks so that our employees and our businesses could keep moving forward. The $15 an hour minimum wage movement is grounded in good intentions, but the reality of the impact this kind of sudden change would have on small business has not been thoroughly considered.

Judy Neldam, owner of Grateful Bread

Small businesses have nothing to fear

I don’t think small businesses would have to worry about a shortage of good employees if the minimum wage were raised to $15.

Look at the economy: Our city’s unemployment rate is still above 5 percent, and even college graduates (such as guest columnist Sandi Halimuddin) are struggling to find full-time work.

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0 Comments | More in minimum wage | Topics: Anthony Bencivengo, John Yackshaw, Judy Neldam

January 18, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Seahawks caption contest winner

On Wednesday, I asked readers to caption this photo with what coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh will say after the game on Sunday between the Seahawks and 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Congratulations to Tony Kimpo from Kenmore for the winning caption. Thanks for playing and enjoy the game. Here are the runners-up: Pete Carroll: “Have I…

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0 Comments | More in Caption Contest | Topics: Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, seahawks

January 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Bicycles: Finding the reasons for drivers’ anger at bicyclists

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Every letter I received in response to Joe Sullivan’s guest column on Saturday, “Why are drivers so angry at cyclists?,” took issue with bicyclists breaking traffic rules and addressed whether bicyclists should pay for licensing and road repair costs. This is a discussion that likely won’t end any time soon, with both sides entrenched, and should come to the fore again as the City Council deliberates the Bicycle Master Plan. What do you think the reasons for resentment might be? Continue the conversation in the comments. Here are the best letter submissions from readers, again, all of them putting most of the blame on cyclists:

Rudeness goes both ways

Geesh, guest columnist Joe Sullivan, get of your high bicycle [“Why are drivers so angry at cyclists?," Opinion, Jan. 10].

Yes, there are many drivers who also do not follow the rules of the road. As a motorist, I try to be very conscientious of cars, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcycles. Not all drivers do, I realize this.

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0 Comments | More in bicycling | Topics: Bicycle Master Plan, Joe Sullivan

January 16, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Education and technology: The value of modern skills in the classroom

Illustration by Donna Grethen / Op Art

Unplugging can be a good thing, but there’s still value in some tech

I thoroughly enjoyed your article on Issaquah High School students unplugging from technology for three straight days [“Dump your cellphone? High-school students to unplug for three days,” Education Lab, Jan. 14].

First, I think this is a great idea not only because the younger generation has become so reliant on technology but also because, like Claudia Rowe wrote, it allows them to see how it was like for their parents to attend school and the ways in which they were forced to interact face to face.

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0 Comments | More in Education, technology | Topics: Issaquah High School

January 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Caption contest: NFC Championship showdown between Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh

CAPTION THIS (Photo from John Lok/The Seattle Times)

CAPTION THIS: What will the two coaches say to each other on Sunday? Submit your caption predicting their exchange. (Photo from John Lok/The Seattle Times, 2012)

San Francisco may have won the last battle, but the war and its spoils is Seattle’s for the taking. With a win on Sunday against the 49ers in the NFC Championship (kickoff at 3:30 p.m. on FOX), the Seahawks would punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. These are two very similar teams, defensive juggernauts that will pound it out over possession. But each has a unique personality, and it could be argued that their styles represent the traits of their head coaches. Sunday will be a battle of temperaments, and emotions may very well boil over. They have in the past.

Remember the famous incident from 2009 when the two were coaches in the former Pac-10, at Stanford University (Harbaugh) and University of Southern California (Carroll)? The two coaches met in the middle of the field after Harbaugh and his Stanford team ran up the score 55-21 against USC, Carroll asking Harbaugh “What’s your deal?” To which the Stanford coach responded, “What’s your deal?”

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0 Comments | More in Caption Contest, Seattle Seahawks | Topics: Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, seahawks

January 8, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Eastside Catholic: Students impressionable and wrong to oppose church doctrine

Eastside Catholic junior Cammi Hansen chants with other students outside the Seattle Archdiocese office near St. James Cathedral on Dec. 20 to protest the dismissal of former Eastside Catholic Vice Principal Mark Zmuda, who was forced to resign because he broke his contract by marrying another man. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times).

Eastside Catholic junior Cammi Hansen chants with other students outside the Seattle Archdiocese office near St. James Cathedral on Dec. 20 to protest the dismissal of former Eastside Catholic Vice Principal Mark Zmuda, who was forced to resign because he broke his contract by marrying another man. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times).

About 80 people rallied in front of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle on Saturday to show support for Mark Zmuda, the popular Eastside Catholic High School vice principal and swim coach who was forced to resign last month after officials found out he had married his male partner. It was the latest in a series of demonstrations led by students and community groups to draw attention to Zmuda’s case.

Readers’ letters and email submissions have been streaming in steadily since the first reports of Zmuda’s firing. The majority of those we received during the weekend supported the school’s decision:

Students’ rebellion can’t sway the church

At what point does Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain end his AWOL status and enter the public forum to defend the Roman Catholic Church from The Times’ editorial scolding over bigotry and intolerance? [“Thanks to the students of Eastside Catholic for protesting Mark Zmuda’s ouster,” Opinion Dec. 20]. False charges left unchallenged become destructive to good order, discipline and the faith of the flock.

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