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September 24, 2013 at 6:32 PM
Unhappy property owner
Yes, we have an improving economy, and yes, real-estate prices are rising. [“Budget reflects McGinn’s priorities,” NW Tuesday, Sept. 24.]
Whatever methods the city is using to raise real-estate taxes, they are blunt axes for many of us. The real-estate taxes on our Queen Anne condominium have been raised substantially for two years running, nearly 20 percent since we purchased our property 14 months ago.
Independent estimates of the resale value of our property indicate that it has not changed in that time.
I look forward, with pleasure, to filling out my ballot in the coming mayoral election.
Stuart Weibel, Seattle
August 18, 2013 at 7:53 AM
Drug crimes rampant
Major crimes versus violent crimes — what’s the difference? [“Downtown getting safer? Not according to numbers,” page one, Aug. 15.]
In Seattle, it’s the sleaze factor that is so disgusting in the Westlake area. There are no police around and nothing but drug transactions going on, right in the heart of the city. The mayor can say all he wants, but he’s wrong.
I’m a Seattle native, but feel much safer in Manhattan than I do in Seattle. I live on the Eastside, but would like to go downtown more often.
The last time my husband and I went to Westlake, we saw three drug transactions at 10 a.m. I’m embarrassed by the city and how the tourists must view it.
And yet the Police Department can spare the officers to hand out Doritos at Hempfest?
Katie Chace, Bellevue
Don’t blame Mayor McGinn
There are so many letters written demanding the mayor do something about violence downtown. These are written by good people who should know better. [“Northwest Voices: Terror for bus drivers,” Opinion, Aug. 16.]
As someone who has been involved in Seattle business and crime issues for the last 35 years, I know that the mayor can do very little to deal with an immediate outburst of crime downtown, other than throw more police at it.
Our downtown violence cannot be turned on or off like a faucet.
How many downtown violence waves and violence task forces have there been? How many nonprofits have been funded to deal with this issue?
Since we seem to be attacking the mayor, how about City Council public safety chairs? What about the president of the Downtown Seattle Association, or our various former police chiefs? Just like the mayor, they are good people who have tried to work on various solutions. Some have worked and some have not.
You cannot hold one person responsible for such a complex problem. Let’s continue working on the effective things that make a difference.
Eugene Wasserman, Seattle
We need crime prevention, not statistics
Mayor Mike McGinn can’t fool commuters and business owners by disingenuously hiding behind the Seattle Police Department’s baked numbers that suggest a drop in violent crime in the downtown business core.
Every day, thousands of commuters, tourists, shoppers and business owners witness lawlessness, bullying and drug-dealing on downtown streets.
Ask anyone how many police officers they see during the morning and afternoon rush hours, and the answer would be: “Few, and rarely.”
If the mayor intends to defend the people and business interests he is sworn to serve, he needs to do only one thing: Get on the phone every morning and afternoon with West Precinct police Capt. Jim Dermody to demand that the Police Department’s assets are actually in place.
We need crime prevention, not crime statistics.
Guy Detrick, Kirkland
August 15, 2013 at 6:50 PM
Civic duty is grand
I appreciated Bruce Ramsey’s column discussing what a city mayor is and is not. [“Mike McGinn vs. Ed Murray: What a mayor is, and isn’t,” Opinion, Aug. 14.]
Ramsey did us all a service in exploring the mayor’s role. Insights from Councilmember Tim Burgess was a perfect addition.
Ramsey is absolutely right that municipal government is about things like providing for public safety, transportation facilities and clean drinking water. He rightly distinguishes these from campaign “trumpeting” on lofty issues that a city mayor cannot directly affect. But I offer a friendly amendment to the column’s conclusion.
In understanding municipal government, we do not have to choose between the practical and the grand. Instead, by enabling us to get our kids safely to school, keep our families healthy and live our lives every day, essential municipal services are not just boring, practical details. They directly advance the promises of our democracy — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Ramsey is right: A mayor shouldn’t need to hunt for obscure sources on which to grandstand.
On the contrary, a good mayor should be able lead and inspire around the city’s daily work. In a very real way, there is nothing more grand.
Max Jacobs, Seattle
August 14, 2013 at 7:08 PM
City leaders must face reality
Our mayor, using cherry-picked statistics, says violent crime is down in the downtown area. [“Data: Violent crime spikes downtown in summer,” page one, Aug. 13.]
As a downtown resident for more than eight years, I have seen street disorder, petty crime, intimidation and minor assaults increase over that time, especially during the last four years.
You don’t need to have a shooting every day to have a serious problem. The sidewalks are occupied by vagrants, aggressive panhandlers, loud people with obvious mental-health issues and running youths.
Part of the problem is lack of active enforcement by police. I am fully aware of the rights we all have, but I feel those stop when someone who is obviously unhinged wildly waves his hands in my face.
The other part of the problem is that downtown Seattle carries an overwhelming share of King County’s social services, which results in a concentration of these problems. Our current mayor’s solution to these is to deny they exist.
We need a mayor with a proven track record of working across interest groups to solve complex and sometimes divisive problems.
Paul Gutowski, Seattle
July 29, 2013 at 4:26 PM
Whole Foods conflict is a gadfly act
Mayor Mike McGinn’s actions regarding Whole Foods are appropriate for a gadfly, not a mayor. [“McGinn’s stance on wages ups stakes in mayoral race,” NW Sunday, July 28.]
Gadflies throw out ideas without regard for the consequences of their timing or methods of delivery. They have no obligation to consult with anyone else or to be restrained by the legality of the ideas they propose.
Should the city become involved in advocating or even legislating for a higher minimum wage? Is this something that should become part of our land-use policies? It is reasonable for our city government and citizens to consider these questions.
But it was not reasonable for McGinn, without consulting the City Council, to threaten a single employer with rejection of a land-use application because the mayor personally believes they should pay higher salaries.
This is only the latest in a long series of behaviors that have alienated many other elected officials and seriously damaged McGinn’s effectiveness. That McGinn, after four years in office, still doesn’t get it that a mayor can’t behave as a gadfly disqualifies him for re-election.
John Russell, Seattle
I’ve lived and voted in nine cities since I graduated from college in 1979. Until the last four years, I considered Seattle the least tribal and most considerate of the whole bunch.
Unfortunately, Michael McGinn has badly eroded that aspect of Seattle’s appeal. Whether or not he wanted to do it, McGinn has deeply fractured the city. We now have neighborhoods at war with downtown, bicyclists at war with drivers and homeowners at war with apartment dwellers.
Worse than that, we have a mayor at war with truth and common sense, and who has made absolutely no effort to bridge any gaps. I supported McGinn in 2009, and I will be voting for anyone but him in 2013.
Seattle needs to send Michael McGinn packing. If that doesn’t happen in the primary, then it must be done in the general election.
In nearly 40 years of voting, I can’t think of any electoral mistake worse than my support for Michael McGinn.
Charles Pluckhahn, Seattle
July 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Ideas for city improvement
Seattle mayoral candidates: Where is Seattle’s vision?
Seattle could be improved in many ways. The present mayor’s vision for Seattle has been limited to improved bicycle features and seawall repair.
The new candidates have said little about how Seattle can be improved. Here are some ideas: Upgrade the waterfront to attract more people to Seattle and the area — we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance for great change with removal of Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Seattle is and has been the “Gateway to Alaska.” Build on this subject: incorporate a waterfront-to-Seattle Center skylift, build a covered maritime museum.
Clean streets and roads. Complete the Burke-Gillman Trail. Get more cruise ship docking closer to Seattle. Improve Ballard Locks parking.
Let’s hear more from the mayoral candidates!
Lynn Thompson, Bellevue
July 23, 2013 at 7:09 AM
There are other underpaid people out there
Mayor Mike McGinn expressed concern about the $16 hourly wage at Whole Foods, while most teachers and child-care workers in the city earn much less than that. [“McGinn goes all out on Whole Foods,” NW Sunday, July 21.]
Mayor McGinn, are you saying that people who work with food deserve to make more than people that work with young children at the most crucial time in their development?
While the city of Seattle has been a tremendous leader nationally in supporting young children and families, especially those in poverty, the average child-care wage is closer to $10 an hour. The city contracts with child-care centers through their levy-funded early-learning program, in which teachers have no health-care benefits at all.
When child-care staff members live in poverty, so do the children they serve! Talk about a social justice and equity issue.
I would suggest that the mayor look closer in his own back yard. While I know it is complicated, I have never understood why the city wouldn’t take a more active role in improving the quality of life for child-care workers, especially regarding health care and salaries.
Ilene Stark, Seattle
July 23, 2013 at 6:06 AM
City leaders must address problem
I watched the primary mayoral debate on PBS recently, and I was bewildered and disappointed to hear no mention of the escalating crime situation in downtown Seattle.
As a frequent public-transit rider, I no longer feel safe waiting for buses on Third Avenue, due to the assaults, stabbings and shootings that have occurred near there.
I have learned to become creative in finding alternate routes in safer areas. The heart of downtown has become shabby, with the smell of urine on dirty sidewalks. Bus-tunnel elevators have become mobile urinals.
In a city as scenic and picturesque as Seattle, it is shameful and disgusting that parts of the central business district have been allowed to deteriorate to this degree. Like poverty, it isn’t a pretty picture, and I am certain this is why it isn’t a popular municipal subject.
I look forward to the day when the city government, along with local tourism and business associations, will recognize and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and begin to move forward with concrete steps to give us the clean and safe downtown we used to enjoy decades ago.
The problem won’t solve itself, and will only become worse if nothing is done.
Larisa Lindemann, Kenmore
July 17, 2013 at 7:37 PM
Murray’s Senate experience is not promising
The Seattle Times endorsement of Ed Murray seems to leave out his experiences in Olympia over the past six months. [“Editorial: The Times recommends Ed Murray for mayor of Seattle,” Opinion, July 14.]
Reading The Times during that period, I hardly heard of him and his leadership. He did enter the session with a Democratic majority in the Senate, but he lost control to the Republicans through the desertion of two of his party members.
As a direct result, the Senate, after two special sessions, didn’t pass a budget until the eleventh hour and 59th minute; it failed major new state transportation funding; and it didn’t even allow us here in central Puget Sound to tax ourselves to save our transit.
Is that an example of his “political and deal-making skills” at work? It sounds like Murray helped move the Washington, D.C., environment of gridlock and bickering to Olympia. We don’t need that in Seattle.
John Pehrson, Seattle
July 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Debate should focus on content, not style
As a college instructor of public policy, I stimulate debate, civic engagement and challenge my students to pursue the truth. I am appalled that The Seattle Times has abrogated its responsibility to report without bias. [“Rivals target McGinn’s style,” page one, July 9.]
The front-page headline demeans the level of public discourse. This is not what the public wants or deserves. Strong leaders fight for what is right and make things happen. Isn’t that what McGinn has been doing, being a strong leader?
Despite the recession, Seattle continues to fund human services, be in the top 10 of various national rankings and have a 4 percent unemployment rate, and that is no accident.
Stop framing the mayoral race as a beauty contest. Be responsible. Show civic leadership and reframe the debate from style to content.
Maria Batayola, Bellevue
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