November 21, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Both have a negative impact on the intelligent
After reading the article outlining the efforts of Alan Gottlieb and his Second Amendment Foundation, I was struck by similarities to another publicity seeking activist in our state: professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman [“Gun-rights sharpshooter," page one, Nov. 18].
Both could be labeled mercenaries in their zeal to cash in on their skills at manipulating both the legal system and the slow or uneducated members of our society. Both have an outsized negative impact on intelligent and informed discourse on the subjects with which their organizations concern themselves.
November 14, 2013 at 7:26 AM
Atheists are treated like second-class citizens
The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in Greece v. Galloway, which involved Christian prayers at City Council meetings [“Supreme Court hears case on public prayer,” News, Nov. 7].
Nondenominational prayers would be better than sectarian prayers, but it’s not acceptable to atheists, who don’t pray. If the court were consistent it would find nondenominational prayers unconstitutional, just as prayers in public classrooms are impermissible even if nondenominational.
The court didn’t bother considering the best solution: removing all government prayer. Why? Because atheists don’t count. Trying to determine what types of prayer would be acceptable to everyone, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, “We’ve already excluded the atheists, right?” A lawyer agreed: “Atheists cannot get full relief in this context, and the McCreary dissenters said that explicitly.” He was referring to the McCreary dissenting opinion in 2005 (written by Justice Antonin Scalia), which claimed that our Constitution “permits the disregard of devout atheists.”
So it’s simply assumed that atheists are second-class citizens. Imagine if the court declared that “Jews are excluded” or “The Constitution permits the disregard of blacks.” The uproar would be deafening. But when atheists are involved, we hear not a peep from the mainstream media or anyone else. Let’s hear it for the separation of church and state.
Matthew Barry, Issaquah
November 11, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Renters could lose their voice under council districts
While I’m happy that district elections will lower the cost of running for city council, I worry about how it will affect land-use and development decisions [“Elections by district mean big change for city leaders,” NWThursday, Nov. 7].
Seattle needs to build quite a lot of new housing to keep up with job growth. But neighborhood associations sometimes oppose new development, including more affordable development like micro-housing. With district elections, neighborhood groups will have a local councilmember to appeal to, which could mean less housing getting built (and rents continuing to skyrocket).
Although more than half of city residents are renters, we tend to be less organized than homeowners and less involved in neighborhood groups, which could mean we have even less of a voice under council districts.
Melanie Mayock, Seattle
November 7, 2013 at 7:03 AM
An educated voting public will keep qualified candidates in office
The only thing keeping qualified candidates with little money from being elected is the laziness of the voting public [“Elections determined by big money, Opinion, Nov. 5].
Term limits would not solve this problem; only an educated voting public would solve it. Term limits would result in one corporate favorite being replaced by another corporate favorite. The last time I voted, I didn’t see a PAC or lobbyist standing over my shoulder, telling me whom to vote for.
An educated voting public would put responsible politicians in office, and politicians, just like pro athletes, should keep their positions when they are effective. Until the voting public uses something other than TV commercials or bumper stickers to inform itself, the problem will remain.
Richard Askre, Seattle
November 5, 2013 at 7:25 PM
State government election races are mediocre at best
There seems to be a crisis of democracy in King County [“Funding state elections from near, afar,” page one, Nov. 3]. By my unofficial count, half of the 108 elected offices in the county involve “races” in which a candidate is running unopposed. And — although this is a more subjective assessment — at least a dozen of the remaining races involve at least one candidate who is totally unqualified (based on a lack of endorsements or other criteria). And at least five others feature candidates who exhibit the proverbial “distinction without a difference.” In five instances, the “candidate” did not even offer a statement of qualifications, goals or philosophy, and several other candidates didn’t bother submitting a photograph.
The implications of this are alarming — incumbency is too often unchallenged, the pool of ideas is limited and our much-ballyhooed “diversity” seems to be more of a slogan than a reality.
Stephen Triesch, Shoreline
November 2, 2013 at 8:15 AM
Kshama Sawant represents Seattle’s progressive values
Kshama Sawant moved to the U.S. from India for a high-paying career in computer science. She was surprised that so many citizens of such a wealthy country suffered in poverty (1 in 5 U.S. children), so she earned a Ph.D. in economics to help repair this persistent systemic inadequacy ["Funny how everything’s gone left," NWSunday, Oct. 27].
In 2011, the Seattle City Council guaranteed paid sick leave to all workers in Seattle. People who work hours just to make rent and dinner may have some rest when unwell. Parents whose illnesses tend to coincide with those of their school-age children may now nurse their families. The ordinance passed by eight votes, but Sawant’s opponent, Richard Conlin, cast the lone dissenting vote standing up for profit margins and the common cold.
Democrats in D.C. already offered one grand bargain that would cut trillions of dollars of funding from such treasured successes as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The tea party rejected the deal to seek even harsher cuts. “Welfare” and “amnesty” have become slurs. The right wing steadily circumscribes our vocabulary to match our retreat from commitments to generalized health and prosperity. The word “socialist” shouldn’t scare Seattle away from our progressive values. And if one wins, maybe Democrats will be scared enough to stand up for them.
Cici Kelly, Seattle
October 31, 2013 at 7:02 PM
West coast at the forefront of strategic alignment to combat climate change and promote clean energy
Great move by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, California Gov. Jerry Brown, and B.C. Premier Christy Clark in signing a joint climate change accord that will cover the length of the North American west coast.
Let’s hope the legislatures for the states and province involved get behind this and give it some teeth. I have long wondered when a real leader would step forward and do something about climate change — words are a nice first step, but real action counts far more.
Let’s hope this plan is the step forward that is needed. Too many people worry about the money they can make today or tomorrow, and to heck with the consequences. However, our children and our children’s children will have much different feelings about the impacts of climate change. Thank you governors and premier for your leadership and vision on this critical matter.
Mike Shaw, Edmonds
October 26, 2013 at 8:35 AM
Call on multinational companies to pay fair share of taxes
Sen. Patty Murray is brave to be taking on the task of trying to negotiate with Republicans to find a solution to our pending budget crisis [“Patty Murray’s latest task: Craft budget peace,” page one, Oct. 24].
From shutting down Mount Rainier National Park to threatening benefits of veterans and families of the fallen, the recent closing of our government made the middle class the victim of right-wing Republican ideology.
I hope she will fight for a sustainable solution that focuses on growing our economy through responsible revenue options, rather than cutting Americans’ earned benefits like Social Security, or taking food from hungry children. Big corporations like Microsoft and GE continue to make record profits while avoiding taxes. Many corporations still get a tax break for sending good American jobs overseas. Closing these corporate-tax loopholes is a more responsible approach toward balancing the budget.
Shutdowns, sequesters and other budget crises could be avoided if members of Congress demand that huge multinational companies pay their fair share of taxes. It’s time to change the law, stop the overseas corporate tax dodging, open our government and invest in the U.S. again.
Joelle Craft, Seattle
October 24, 2013 at 7:33 AM
No need for law imposing physical restrictions on signature gatherers
I wish to speak up for the infringement on free speech that would be imposed on those who oppose initiative signature gatherers [“I-517: expands free speech or allows intrusive tactics?” NWSunday, Oct. 20].
There are already laws on the books regarding assault by one citizen upon another, so it would be redundant to incorporate the language of such behavior into an initiative. Since it is public areas that are under discussion in the initiative, I don’t think it is right to restrict another person from occupying a space close to signature gatherers while expressing his or her own views.
Thomas Munyon, Marysville
October 24, 2013 at 7:01 AM
District is influenced by individuals and money
Your editorial supporting Seattle Charter Amendment 19 setting up council districts is, in theory, a good one [“Yes on Seattle charter amendment 19; no on Proposition 1, Opinion, Oct. 15].
On the surface, it seems rational and would be good for the voters and the city. However, having lived in New Orleans (where we had this same system), I can assure you that it was anything but good for the city.
Operationally, the district council member does represent his or her district, but is significantly influenced by individuals with money and all its temptations.
I will give you an example where the system fails: Developer X wants to rezone property from residential to commercial so he or she can build a commercial building. The residential property is historical and is in scale with its neighborhood. Neighborhood residents are opposed to the rezoning, but the council member is persuaded by the developer with favors to be obtained at a later date that cannot be traced. The other council members end up voting for approval since their existing system is much more difficult to corrupt.
I urge Seattle citizens to keep the system that they have and to look deeply to the pros and cons before voting.
Fritz Wagner, Seattle
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