November 26, 2013 at 7:05 AM
Sawant looks to redistribute wealth
Looking at India shouldn’t just make us grateful for our current system, it should also be a warning of where our system could be headed should certain trends continue [“Kshama Sawant will have trouble changing ingrained inequities,” Northwest Voices, Nov. 20].
India is a prime example of what happens when corporations have all the power and workers have none. Safety regulations are inadequate, minimum wage is equivalent to 28 cents per hour and the poverty rate is twice as high as in the U.S.
Here, workers have lost a lot of power due to anti-union laws while corporations and the rich have benefited from deregulation and favorable government policies. The result? Many non-unionized workers still face criminally poor conditions. Adjusting for inflation, minimum wage is lower now than when first established in 1938. Income inequality is at record levels. And these trends are only getting worse.
November 20, 2013 at 7:32 PM
Socialism is not the answer
The Times’ feature on India mentioned that beautiful country’s dichotomies, including grinding poverty, absence of electricity or running water and the lowly status of women [“India, one day at a time,” News Oct. 27]. Memorably, the paper’s two female reporters had to be extricated from a mob of “hundreds” of men.
Yet socialist City Council member-elect Kshama Sawant arrived in the United States, a free and successful country with a high standard of living, and rails against the economic system that made it that way. She is aggrieved ["Conlin concedes; Sawant to join council," page one, Nov. 16].
November 19, 2013 at 6:36 AM
Stands against the corporatization of Seattle
Editor, The Times:
The media is missing a major reason why Kshama Sawant defeated Councilmember Richard Conlin [“Conlin concedes; Sawant to join council,” page one, Nov. 16].
As the powerful head of City Council’s land-use committee, Conlin held an emphatically pro-developer stance that created enormous antipathy toward him throughout the city.
October 16, 2013 at 7:33 AM
Helps incumbents, not new candidates
I am writing to voice concerns over the upcoming vote on Seattle Proposition 1, which is being referred to as a campaign finance reform measure [“Is Prop. 1 answer to big money in City Council campaigns?” NWMonday, Oct. 14].
I think most people will agree there is too much money in politics. As people become more educated about Proposition 1, they will agree that the additional taxpayer money this measure will throw at candidates is not the solution — and may in fact make matters worse.
Proposition 1 is a $9 million property tax levy that will finance only City Council candidates’ campaigns. It’s not surprising that two City Council members, Mike O’Brien and Nick Licata, are considered the primary advocates for this measure.
Under Proposition 1, a candidate who raises $30,000 will then be eligible for $180,000 in taxpayer money to use for campaign purposes. This measure does not require any candidate to abide by those limits, nor restrict in any way special interest money or PAC expenditures. This measure would also require candidates to have more than 600 donors. Multiple analyses have observed that this requirement could help incumbents rather than bring new candidates into the process, which is Proposition 1’s stated goal.
Laverne Lamoureux, Seattle
Bring small donors into the fold
Proposition 1 will be incredibly beneficial to Seattle. Allowing a number of small donors to play a more significant role in City Council elections is incredibly important.
It would allow candidates to raise small donations, which could be matched by public funds to finance their campaigns. This makes small donations much more important, while at the same time diluting the power of large donations.
The example of public financing in the New York City Council races is evidence that this can work. When small donations began to be matched by public funds, the number of people who donated to campaigns increased substantially. These donors were from areas that had been disproportionately left out of the political process, and resulted in more people having an impact in politics while using less money.
We can accomplish this here, and it can only be an improvement in Seattle politics.
Wes Ahrens, Seattle
March 25, 2013 at 6:07 AM
Seattle could learn from Shoreline
I am on the side of Richard Dyksterhuis regarding sidewalks on pedestrian-unfriendly Aurora Avenue North from North 125th Street to North 145th Street [“Happy warrior battles to tame Aurora,” NWMonday, March 18], but I have just one additional comment: Just cross north across 145th into Shoreline and it’s like entering a new world, with a wider and more attractive Aurora, with sidewalks and curbs.
Seattle annexed this area up to 145th in the 1950s. Shoreline incorporated as a city a little over 10 years ago. When is Seattle going to catch up with Shoreline regarding needed improvements to Aurora Avenue North?
–Bob Fleming, Seattle
March 24, 2013 at 7:38 AM
New development will be exclusionary
Are the window washers shown wiping down the UW’s new medical-research building walking to work [“City Council should move forward on South Lake Union rezone,” Opinion, March 20]?
Perhaps if new development did not fight inclusionary zoning, the public benefits being touted would not be so hard to swallow. We elect City Council members to be advocates for those not at the table, not acquiesce to special interests who can write their own op-eds.
Kudos City Council. You have my vote.
–Selena Carsiotis, Seattle
Council applies due diligence
The City Council has not been delaying action on the South Lake Union rezone. It has a Committee of the Whole, meets with interested parties daily and holds marathon sessions. In the area of incentive payments and Block 59, the council had to hire its own consultants to get straight answers.
Our coalition has supported additional measures to maintain diversity of housing and to meet city policy goals. But the mayor’s office doesn’t even know how we’re doing citywide on these goals and does not have a plan on how to meet them. We think the council is taking the necessary time to establish a balance between added incentive payments from developers for affordable housing and future growth in SLU.
We support at least 95 percent of the proposed height and density increases, but are recommending some changes near Lake Union and Fairview based on consideration of residents, the built environment and community connections to Lake Union and the Space Needle. These are values worth the study of the Council beyond what the mayor’s staff provided.
We support the “due diligence” the council is applying to incentive payments and height and density issues. “Rubber-stamping” this mayor’s proposal would have been irresponsible.
–John Pehrson, South Lake Union Community Coalition, Seattle
March 22, 2013 at 7:35 AM
Alternative to concrete sidewalks
I was very interested in Richard Dyksterhuis’ idea to put double-wide sidewalks along Aurora Avenue from North 125th to 145th Street [“Happy warrior battles to tame Aurora,” NWMonday, March 18]. It is a great idea and would provide much more safety for the people in the region.
However, I would strongly suggest that the sidewalks be made of something other than concrete and perhaps be a pathway. Many of the shoppers I’ve seen in that area are older people and concrete sidewalks are nonresilient and really hard on the spine, especially as we age. I have noticed the difference in walking on concrete compared with walking along the side of the roads in the area where I live in Shoreline. I would much prefer walking on the side of the road to the concrete sidewalks that are in a few places.
If Seattle considers the suggestion of Dyksterhuis, I do hope the planners will check out the different materials that are currently used in walkways. When I have visited my family in Southern California, I have been aware of some of the play areas that are made of recycled materials rather than concrete. They are much safer for children.
–Mary Bartholet, Shoreline
March 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Now more than ever, Americans are aiming toward a healthier lifestyle and are even willing to put carrot sticks and tuna alongside chips in Seattle vending machines to contribute toward the effort [“Seattle seeks healthful vending-machine choices for city workers,” NWThursday, Feb. 14].
The thought is appreciated, but wildly unrealistic since the food that people so widely enjoy and expect will be sitting next to the “healthy” choices — which isn’t saying much: Cheez-Its, and baked potato chips — acting as the devil on your shoulder. And if not the vending machine, they can easily be bought elsewhere.
In addition, these vending-machine foods will spoil after an untouched two-week shelf life and will eventually be thrown out. Government organizations will be criticized for wasting perfectly healthy food that could have been enjoyed elsewhere, or not produced at all, saving taxpayers an extra dollar.
What a shame.
–Evan Britton, Seattle
August 16, 2009 at 6:11 AM
Why I’m voting against the measure
I am voting against the bag fee because I think it will lay more grief on our low-income neighbors. Quoting advocates of the bag fee, “That claim (that the fee will harm poor people) is utter rubbish. Much of the fee revenue will be used to provide free reusable bags to poor people, and anyone who uses reusable bags will pay no fees.” ["Vote to eliminate disposable grocery bags," Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes, guest commentary, July 28].
In other words, the stresses of time and money that make this additional little task difficult and expensive for poor people will be no problem once they receive some free reusable bags.
When people don’t have enough money, they work two or three jobs, walk to the bus, ride multiple buses each day, and, like others, buy groceries on the way home, raise children, deal with medical problems, and learn a new transportation system.
Punishing stressed people because they forgot a bag is heartless. Let’s reject the bag fee and minimize plastic bags some other way.
– Kate Anthony, Seattle
August 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM
An invasion of property rights in new tree-cutting rules
I do not like the tone of the new tree-cutting rules ["Tree-cutting rules to get more strict in Seattle," NWTuesday, August 4]. City Council President Richard Conlin is quoted as saying something about “our urban trees.” That may be true for trees in parks and parking strips, but the trees on my property aren’t “our” trees, they are “my” trees.
I have close to 50 trees on my property in West Seattle. I selected them, I paid for them, I dug the planting holes, I pay for the water at third-tier summer rates, I fertilize, I pay my gardener to prune, transplant or remove as I choose.
Some of my trees have been in the ground since the late ‘ 80s and are pushing 20 years old. If I decide I don’t like their appearance or growth habits or there is another type of tree I want to grow instead, it is my choice what to do with them.
My garden is my art project — it doesn’t belong to the city. If I sell my property, it is the right of the new owners to decide if they want to continue our style of gardening. This is a private decision, and the city has no say in it. Some people don’t like shade or trees hiding their houses.
The city of Seattle should put its own house in order and take care of its own trees. City Light crews still butcher trees to accommodate power lines; recycle trucks and garbage trucks routinely snag and tear branches of parking-strip trees in our neighborhood; trees in public spaces are frequently underwatered and ungroomed; the madronas in Lincoln Park are diseased and need thinning and removal of dead limbs; the Kwanzan cherry trees in the median on Admiral Way have been removed and replanted at least four times in the past two decades by street crews.
These sins against city trees are just the ones in my own neighborhood. Multiply that many times and city crews could be busy for years taking care of what they already have.
– Kathy Schwartz, Seattle
Saving trees or letting government go unchecked?
Your headline regarding saving trees in Seattle is misleading and downright bad journalism. The new resolution, not yet a law, will allow the following, if passed into law: “… the Department of Planning and Development] may permit exceptions to this prohibition when evidence is presented that development of the site would be substantially precluded or prohibited or when documentation is provided by a licensed or accredited professional that the health of the tree would be ignorantly undermined as a result of construction.”
This is a loophole that not only makes certain trees will lose out in any development case, it also creates a situation of government powers that are unchecked. If the DPD decides so, then any tree may be removed for development at any time, based on this clause.
You should do some investigative writing, not just promote what those in power want us to believe.
– Thomas Erdmann, Seattle
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