'Weekly' whiners

Well, heck, "Things That Became Extinct in the '90s" (12/31) was not so much a fond look back as it was an incessant whine about what was wrong with a decade we've yet to conveniently label and shelve. Honestly, couldn't you find anything to look back on fondly?

The rise of the Internet—the rebirth of letter writing as an art form and being able to visit museums anywhere in the world, anytime at the touch of a button. The advent of espresso—even if you don't drink double-shots, the demand for quality coffee caused by this phenomenon bumped up the taste parameters on coffee exponentially.

This was also the decade that brought us Northwest Bookfest, the new Benaroya Hall, Richard Hugo House, and, of course, the new Seattle Art Museum with Hammering Man. Seattle is ending this decade with a cultural life and a more vibrant downtown area.

Seattle Weekly became a free paper, swing dancing is back, and alternative medicine has become recognized as a viable treatment option by health insurers.

So, if I could come up with all of this within a short space of an hour, what's wrong with you people? I hope you do a better job with end of the century next year.

Irene Potter

via e-mail

Femme vital

In response to your "Things That Became Extinct in the '90s" (12/31), I hate to burst your bubble, but feminism is alive and well. Women and men all over the planet continue to work toward a world where equality and mutual respect rule, and where no one, female or male, lives a life circumscribed by prejudice or exploitation. What I'd like to know is, why does this vision disturb you?

Kira Freed


Decade of the individual

There has been a lot of talk already on what the 1990s has been like and what we will call it. I haven't read much of the commentary on it, but I did read some of the comments in the 12/31 Seattle Weekly.

The comment that caught my eye was that people didn't have much to remember about the '90s. There seems to be so many little things, but nothing that really stands out to everyone. My thought is that the '90s might be the decade of the individual. Diversity and individuality have been a major part of these past nine years. As members of this society, we each concentrated a great deal of our energy in finding out who we are/were and therefore tended to pay more attention to things that interested us personally.

My hope is that our upcoming decade will be focused more on finding our similarities, not only between individuals and groups, but cities, states, and nations. Maybe then we will come closer to the universal goal of peace.

Heather Hibbard

via e-mail

Keeping House

I want to congratulate the Weekly for following the twists and turns of the Security House story and for consistently covering this complicated issue. The 12/10 article by Mark Worth ("Stealth Nonprofit") painted a clear picture of the hurdles low-income tenants face in the struggle to preserve low- income housing. There were some inaccuracies regarding HRG's plan for Security House in Worth's article, but those small inaccuracies don't change the basic truth that the plan would have resulted in a net loss of units affordable to very low-income people. Mark Blatter's 12/31 letter to the editor added new misinformation to the mix.

Mr. Blatter's letter inaccurately portrays the yearlong battle to save the Section 8 assistance at Security House as a vengeance campaign by a slighted nonprofit housing developer. The reality is that it was a grassroots campaign by low-income senior citizens to save their homes and community, and preserve the housing for future seniors in need. The wrongly accused nonprofit, the Low Income Housing Institute, is a leader in preserving Section 8 housing in the Puget Sound region.

In November 1997, the tenants at Security House learned that the future of their building was in jeopardy. Fearing they would lose their homes they called the media and the Tenants Union, and organized the first of many tenants meetings. From the beginning, the tenants themselves, with the support of the union, formed a committee to preserve the Section 8 subsidy. They met with the Housing Resource Group and wrote a letter to the state Housing Trust Fund to ask it to do everything possible to retain the Section 8 contract. More than two-thirds of the tenants signed a petition in support of maintaining the project-based Section 8 assistance. Their efforts resulted in the decision by the Housing Trust Fund to ask the HRG to renew the Section 8 contract as a condition of receiving funding. HRG has now reorganized its financing plan to accommodate the Trust Fund decision and plans to maintain the Section 8 contract.

The lesson to be learned from the Security House Apartments controversy is that project-based Section 8 housing is an irreplaceable resource that we can't afford to lose. The state affirmed the value of project-based Section 8 housing when it decided to make funding of the Housing Resource Group's (HRG) purchase of Security House contingent on HRG's renewal of the Section 8 subsidy. The city of Seattle affirmed it when it passed a resolution to take action to preserve project-based Section 8 subsidies. King County has done the same, and so has Snohomish County. The Governor's Affordable Housing Advisory Board has placed a high priority on Section 8 preservation as well.

The yearlong battle over Security House represents a larger struggle to preserve shrinking federal Section 8 housing subsidies. Now is the time for all housing developers and housing advocates to join the tenants to save this resource and preserve it as a legacy for our community.

siobhan ring

Section 8 Tenants Organizing Project Coordinator The Tenants Union

Western's virtues

I am a former patient at Western State Hospital, a National Alliance for the Mentally Ill member, and a board member of the local affiliate. And I am a beneficiary of both therapy and medication at the hospital. I sincerely feel that Rick Anderson has spread his emphasis too thickly, at the expense of the virtues of that institution—and there are many ("Cruel and Unusual Therapy," 12/24).

Public apathy toward and general lack of understanding of mental disorders are scarcely mentioned, and the grand onus—stigma—not at all. Bravely, Mr. Anderson piques the Legislature . . . though only in the final paragraphs.

The article's illustrations are a mean affront, an abomination. The 19th-century surgical cabal has nothing whatsoever to do with modern psychiatric practice, and the female figure seen struggling reveals an artist's wild imaginings, hardly a modern reality.

Perhaps abuses exist. I saw and experienced none during my two-and-a-half-year stay at Western.

My bottom line: Though unbalanced and sadly slanted, this article may yield some awareness, some understanding. But as a member of the mental-health community, I was offended, not just mildly.

russell d. vanderklomp


Rick Anderson responds: Federal inspectors will happily concede Western has helped more patients than it hurt—not exactly a stirring motto to live by. And as I mentioned, the hospital's history of neglect and understaffing was enabled by chronic public indifference. Now Gov. Locke has proposed replacing Western with a new multimillion-dollar mental health facility, if funding is approved by the Legislature. In effect, it's a test to see if anyone really cares. Stay tuned.

Lighten up!

I am worried about the future of Seattle Weekly. Ever since being bought out by that big East Coast weekly, your mag has seemed to dip more and more toward the cynical and unforgiving. Why do you need to trash Christmas? Why launch such a vehement attack on natural childbirth? Why vilify so many recent movies as being beneath contempt?

It seems to me that Seattle Weekly is more and more succumbing to the disease of intellectual purism, wherein absolute rightness trashes the pure joy of being entertained.

Take as just one example (and there have been many lately) the Weekly's review of Shakespeare in Love (12/24). I couldn't care less about the success or failure of this film. What concerns me more is the seeming transformation of Seattle Weekly into everyone's bitter aunt, sitting on the sofa, farting and eating Ding-Dongs while hurling invective at every intellectually impure event in the world.

Shakespeare in Love is fun. It was never intended to be historically or didactically rigorous, for god's sake, it was meant to entertain! This, it does well. It is a fanciful and (I believe) masterful re-creation of "what might have been."

Lighten up, folks! Life is short!

Reid Branson


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