Follow us:

Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

Author archives

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: Telephone: 206/464-2326 Follow on Twitter: @nikolajlasbo

September 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Conversation starter: Responses from readers on what to ask state candidates

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Last week, The Seattle Times editorial board published its own questions for candidates before the November election. Northwest Voices readers were asked to submit their own questions and issues that need addressing by politicians.

Here are selected submissions:

How do you plan to solve the problem of money in politics?

Spending during elections has skyrocketed ever since the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. A few wealthy individuals and corporations use money to amplify their speech, drowning out ordinary Americans. In our democracy, the size of your wallet should not determine the strength of your voice. This issue is important to the vast majority of Americans, both conservative and liberal.

There is a national solution to this problem (a constitutional amendment), but there are numerous measures that can be taken on the state and local level to help solve this problem. For example, cities and counties can have small donor incentive programs for local elections. We should ask our candidates what they would do if elected to help solve the problem of big money in politics, so that in the future, elections are more fair and representative of the people.

Faith Deis, Seattle

What will you do about climate change?

It is the most dire issue facing us today and we are running out of time to act. No political leader — local, state or federal — should be given a pass on this urgent question. And as Paul Krugman makes clear, we need informed candidates who understand not only the science but the economics of climate change.

Our state is already paying the price in human suffering, and financially through the destruction of shellfish due to ocean acidification, wildfires and landslides, loss of snow pack, and more. Whether with a carbon tax, stopping coal and oil trains or funding mass transit, state and local candidates have a job to do.


Comments | More in Conversation starter, Election | Topics: 2014, Citizens United, climate change

September 20, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Conversation starter: What would you ask state candidates?

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Get ready for the barrage of candidates and campaign information heading toward your doorstep.

Since May, throughout the state, legislative candidates have been doorbelling, speaking at rallies, riding in parades, glad-handing at fairs, meeting with newspaper editorial boards. The Seattle Times editorial board continues to publish its recommendations for voters to consider when they cast their ballots.

But voters themselves can find plenty of opportunity to ask candidates about important topics. The Times editorial board has published its suggestions voters can ask, along with explanations of why they are important.

What would you ask candidates, given the chance? What would you say they need to focus on? Why? Leave your comment in the form below and it might be featured in print and online in the next week.


Comments | More in Conversation starter, Legislature | Topics: candidates, Conversation Starter, Legislature

July 21, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Airline fees: Just tell me what the bottom-line price is

Nancy Ohanian / Op Art

With regard to guest columnist Lee Moak’s opinion piece [“The hidden fees in an airline ticket," Opinion, July 16], there is way too much spin and disinformation contained.

For instance: “In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation made a little known rule change that requires airlines to hide government taxes and fees within the advertised price of a ticket.” Or is it true that what they did was to inform the paying public what the true cost of that flight was going to be? Moak tries to compare buying a ticket to


Comments | More in aviation | Topics: airlines, Alan Zelt, FAA

July 1, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Capitol Statuary: Responses support keeping current state representatives

I received a number of written responses over the weekend to a callout by editorial writer Jonathan Martin in an editorial and in the Opinion Northwest blog asking, “Who should stand in Statuary Hall in D.C.?” All supported keeping the current statues in place. Martin is collecting further suggestions on who should replace the current statues if you have additional ideas. Add your voice in the form at the bottom of this post.

Keep Mother Joseph memorialized in Statuary Hall

Why does Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart belong in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol? [“Whom to memorialize in Statuary Hall from Washington state?” Opinion, June 25].

She came to the West in 1856 with four other sisters to fill the unmet needs of God’s people on the frontier. In 46 years she led the opening of more than 30 hospitals, schools and homes for the sick, children, orphans, the elderly and the mentally ill in Vancouver, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Walla Walla, Port Townsend, Yakima, Tulalip, Colville, Sprague, Colfax, Cowlitz and Steilacoom. She is considered one of the Northwest’s first architects for the structures she built and helped pay for through begging tours in mines and lumber camps. The pioneer corporation she established in 1859 is now Providence Health & Services, serving health care, education and social-service needs in five states.

Gov. Dixy Lee Ray’s signing of the bill authorizing the honor was initiated by community individuals and supported by luminaries like Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson. Young people embrace her story, like the students in Vancouver, Wash., who successfully lobbied in 1999 to make her birthday, April 16, a state holiday.

Mother Joseph’s legacy has touched millions and will remain forever in the annals of Washington state history.

Judith Desmarais, provincial superior at Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph province, Renton

The importance of keeping names to teach history

Haven’t we all had enough of change for the sake of change?

My wife and I visited Statuary Hall a few years ago, so we knew that Marcus Whitman and Mother Joseph were memorialized there. Seeing them there inspired us to reacquaint ourselves with a bit of state history.

I, for one, am tired of the current trend of renaming everything that’s old with something new and its disastrous effect on our memories and our history. Who, for example, had greater impact of the development of Seattle as a great city, railroad executive James J. Hill or Martin Luther King Jr.? No doubt it was Hill, but we replaced the one small reminder of his contribution when we renamed Empire Way to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Why didn’t we rename, for example, 23rd Avenue South instead of erasing Hill’s name from our local geography?

Local place names give teachers and parents an opening to discuss our history and those who worked and sometimes fought for what we are and have today. The people in Statuary Hall do the same. Tossing out their legacy for some current hero just because someone feels “it’s time to hit refresh” is simply wrong.

Alan Brockmeier, Mercer Island

Current political climate would make choices hard

Leave the statues alone. In this age of total political war, choosing new statues would only divide us further.

Whomever was chosen would have their name and legacy dragged through the mud in order to further the mudslingers opposite choice for this honor. No matter whom was chosen, this would happen.

The current honorees are well-known humanitarians who don’t have a lot of political baggage hanging off of them. They are good choices. Leave them where they are.

Jerry Johnson, Seattle


Comments | More in Historical figures | Topics: Alan Brockmeier, Jerry Johnson, Judith Desmarais

June 23, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Replay: Video hangout on survival after college

Are you a recent college graduate? Wondering how you’re going to find a job and support yourself? From the changing nature of internships and job advancement, to crushing student debt and moving back in with parents, this generation of graduates faces many hurdles.

Join our on-air video hangout on Google+ on Tuesday at noon to discuss the challenges facing this generation of graduates and possible solutions.

This is an open hangout, which means anyone can join as a participant with a Web cam. Please keep in mind that this is an on-air hangout and your comments and images will be broadcast on The Seattle Times website, Youtube and Google+. The Seattle Times Terms of Service apply to this hangout.


Comments | Topics: Google, video chat

June 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Victoria Sewage: Big response from B.C. residents taking issue with Seattle Times editorial

Victoria’s unofficial mascot, Mr. Floatie, speaks to the media at a 2006 press conference on Victoria sewage. Though James Skwarok hung up his suit when it appeared Vancouver Island would build a sewage treatment plant, he has since come out of retirement for a “second movement.” (Photo by Bruce Stotesbury/ Victoria Times Colonist)

A decades-long effort to build a plant to treat Greater Victoria’s sewage  is now blocked by a local-government zoning squabble. On Sunday, The Seattle Times editorial board published an editorial, “Victoria sewage creates new stink,” that has created quite a stink of its own among our friendly neighbors to the north. The Times’ editorial was picked up by Victoria’s Times Colonist, and the issue was covered Wednesday on KING5 news. Gov. Jay Inslee has also sent a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark stating “concern by the lack of progress,” stressing the effect of untreated wastewater on Washington state.

Since publication of the editorial, I’ve received more than a dozen letters in response from B.C. residents, all taking issue with the editorial. They write, among other points, that current waste dumping in the Strait of Juan de Fuca has negligible impact, and the reason for opposition to the proposed plant is more due to a different type of waste: wasteful spending.

Read the best responses below, and send your opinions on the issue to

Sewage treatment coming

Washington State residents can rest assured that Greater Victoria will have sewage treatment in the near future [”Victoria sewage creates new stink,” Opinion, June 8].

The governments of Canada and British Columbia have requirements in place that must be met. The province has approved a liquid-waste management plan for the region, which includes the construction of a sewage-treatment plant for Greater Victoria, and federal regulations mandate there must be sewage treatment by 2020.

I fully expect the region to meet both their provincial and federal obligations — and that proper sewage treatment will be in place.

Mary Polak, minister of environment, province of British Columbia

Seattle in no place to discuss Victoria’s issues

For a Seattle newspaper to call the Strait of Juan de Fuca “our waters” seems arrogant — let’s hear from places close to it, such as Friday Harbor and Port Angeles. And what does King Country have to do with the subject? Last I heard, Skagit and Whatcom counties were close to the strait, not King nor Snohomish counties.

The Times’ editorial is ignorant of technical factors and of a real debate about how to organize treatment of sewage, including environmental costs of moving sludge around, distributed treatment versus centralized, advancing technology, removal of heavy metals, and (mis-) management of the project.

Yes, the NIMBY factor is also a big factor, as it probably often is in Seattle. So, no surprise that Esquimalt didn’t want the plant.

Speaking of managing overblown inappropriate projects, how’s Seattle’s Big Dig going?

Keith Sketchley, Saanich B.C.


Comments | More in Environment | Topics: British Columbia, Christy Clark, Janet Riddell

May 22, 2014 at 7:28 AM

What would a future without net neutrality look like?

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed new rules for the Internet that would create “fast lanes” for certain content providers — which could allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to charge companies and websites for faster delivery of their content to consumers. The Internet, as consumers know it, could change drastically.

The Seattle Times opinion pages asked readers to imagine a future Internet with toll booths and fast lanes for content providers. Below are several responses:

Fast lanes would limit competition

Net neutrality is a major issue that should be given serious attention. Internet speeds must remain uniform for all users. Anything else would be noncompetitive and unfair. Based on The Seattle Times’ editorial, I have submitted the following to the Federal Communications Commission:

“I believe and urge that the FCC maintain a neutral Internet whereby all Internet traffic travels at the same, highest possible, speed. It seems patently unfair to


Comments | More in Internet | Topics: fast lanes, Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality

May 9, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Transportation funding needs to keep the environment in mind

The Seattle Times’ front-page article on the problem of transportation ["Troubled transportation megaprojects add to political gridlock," Local News, May 6] highlights a bigger problem associated with the need to address climate change at the state level: It seems we keep expanding the infrastructure for use by the automobile, generally without public input. Consequently…


Comments | More in Transportation | Topics: 520 bridge, Gas tax, highway 99

May 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Readers weigh in on Seattle mayor’s plan for a $15 minimum wage

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Last week, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to move the city toward a $15 minimum wage, which would be phased in over three to seven years depending on the size of business and whether workers receive tips or benefits in addition to salary.

The Seattle Times wrote in an editorial, “If Seattle must go to $15 — and that appears a political reality — there are elements to like in this deal. It includes significant phase-in time, allowing employers to adjust to higher costs, and it incentivizes businesses to contribute to health care, at least for some time.” And added, “But this should not be considered merely tinkering, but a re-engineering of the Seattle economy.”

Readers have sent in quite a few letters in response to this coverage with their own perspectives of the wage hike. If you’d like to add your voice, send your letter to:

What’s not being considered by supporters

When columnist Jerry Large asserts that Seattle is a step closer to equality because of reaching an agreement that must be approved by the City Council, he must have ignored several things [“Seattle off to promising start on plan to raise minimum wage,” Local News, May 4].

The increase in hourly wages could be whisked away in a heartbeat by higher rents, higher prices for Big Macs or higher prices at stores in low-income neighborhoods.

Equality in Seattle does not mean a thing for equality for 10,000 or so other places in the United States with slightly less liberal city council members.

There are very few highly desirable or even moderately desirable neighborhoods in King County, and a few thousand dollars more in take-home pay every year will make people not one inch closer to being able to afford a house in one of those neighborhoods.

If the cost of employing a person is higher than the revenue that person brings in, that person won’t be on the payroll for very long. People will lose jobs, and therefore be more unequal to others than before. Some people will get raise, other people will get substantial cuts in income.

Get set for higher inequality, Seattle. You deserve it.

Eric Tronsen, Seattle

Teenagers would need to move out of Seattle to find jobs

It would appear Seattle parents have between four and seven years to move to the suburbs so that they can teach their children the responsibility and value in obtaining a starter job.

From there, teenagers can learn


Comments | More in minimum wage | Topics: $15 minimum wage, David Smukowski, Elaine Phelps

Next Page »