"The last time I checked, open containers of alcohol, gross intoxication, and urination were all activities already prohibited in public."


"Bus Battles" [Jan. 3] rang true to me. My bus route, the 3/4, travels past the King County Courthouse, King County Jail, a food bank, Harborview, juvenile detention, at least two drug treatment facilities, and Providence clinic. So even when I take the bus at worker-bee rush hour, I share the ride with an array of folks who are (pick one or a combination) angry, threatening, smelly, contagious, drunk, or scary. No thanks!

Erica Barnett is right: Until taking the bus is easy, convenient, and a LOT more pleasant, anybody with a transportation alternative isn't going to ride Metro. Metro needs to improve the quality of the ride so it's the preferable alternative. Adjusting the routes might help!

Nani Paape



Erica Barnett claims in her article "Bus Battles" [Jan. 3] that Metro has "a reputation for being inhospitable, dirty, and downright dangerous." I believe this is a disservice to many people who run, work for, or ride the Metro bus. Compared to any city of reasonable size, Seattle has one of the most on-time, cleanest, and safest systems in the country. Her list of October "incident reports" looks like a half-hour's worth of activity on the public transportation systems of New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Cincinnati, etc.

Manzell Blakeley

via e-mail


I would like to respond to the article about Starbucks using prison labor to package coffee ["Prison Coffee," Dec. 27, 2001]. I was an inmate at the Twin Rivers Corrections Unit from 1998 until 2000. I don't understand what [ex-inmate] Steven Strauss is talking about. Every inmate [wants] a job like that. I worked in the kitchen and in the maintenance department and was only paid 55 cents an hour with a cap of $55 a month. I would have gladly worked for Starbucks, Microsoft, Nintendo, or any other company who would pay me minimum wage. When they say the prison system took up to 50 percent of their wages, that's not quite right. They didn't collect the whole paycheck right then, [but] 10 percent goes into the inmates' savings accounts so they get it when the are released from prison; 20 percent goes to pay fines to the court system [if the inmate owes any]. The [prison system] does take 20 percent for "room and board." I think it is a good idea for companies to work with the Department of Corrections. It helps the business and the inmate in several ways.

Matthew Cross



The thought that we can use prisoners for any job we want sickens me ["Prison Coffee," Dec. 27, 2001]. We're going to have what the Chinese call Laogai. Granted that is more like forced labor, but what are our prisoners supposed to do? Say no and maybe not get treated fairly?

[Companies] are supposed to pay the "prevailing" wage, but what about other costs that a private company has? Like rent for the space? Insurance? Heating? All that is paid for in a prison system.

Chris Wilkes

via e-mail


Your article about inmates packaging products made me cringe ["Prison Coffee," Dec. 27, 2001]. I especially agree with the statement about what parents would think if they knew that a murderer, rapist, pedophile . . . was packing their child's Nintendo GameCube.

I would like to add how terrifying it is to me that inmates package Starbucks' coffee gift packages. It is horrifying to think that these types of people are touching, let alone packaging, this product. I will never [again] buy anything prepackaged by Starbucks.

I fear what [inmates] could do to the product. What might they put into it? Drugs aside, just out of spite, what gross body fluids or substances would they put into the product?

We all have heard about restaurant workers who put spit, sweat, nose fluid, etc., into food as they cook it. How much further down the chain of morality, compassion, values, etc., is an inmate?

Not to mention how upsetting it is that they receive money when they should be receiving punishment. There are many upstanding citizens looking for work or being laid off that I would rather see receive the money. Give these jobs to the people trying to get off of welfare.

I don't get it.

Valerie Worrell

Lake Stevens


What a wonderful way to salute Seattle's neighborhood merchants! In the Dec. 27, 2001 issue, City Council member Margaret Pageler proclaims that it is "in their own survival interest as businesses" that small merchants curtail the sale of fortified wine and malt liquor ["Booze Ban"]. With all due respect to Pageler, even "chronic inebriates" are consumers who possess a God-given American right to spend their money however they damn well please.

The problem is not the availability of a product but its impact on public spaces. Occidental Park in Pioneer Square has always been a hangout for the less fortunate in Seattle. The last time I checked, open containers of alcohol, gross intoxication, and urination were all activities already prohibited in public. If city officials were to simply enforce existing laws, there would be no need to limit consumer choice.

Big Brother-like controls on commerce are not the answer to problem drinking.

Brenda S. Warpala



Thanks so much for your piece on the Warbirds ["Girls Just Wanna Wear Pads," Dec. 27, 2001]. I've been wondering why none of the other papers besides the Times reports on this fine team. Who can tell/ who cares what sex they are with all that damn gear on? It's just nice to see a winning pro team in Seattle for a change.

I appreciate also your tribute to Aaliyah ["Those Who Will Be Missed," Dec. 27, 2001]. The Stranger didn't even mention it when she died, and that was so hurtful. She meant a lot to us.

Leela Hays

via e-mail


Kudos [to Mike Seely] for covering Seattle's best football team, the Warbirds ["Girls Just Wanna Wear Pads," Dec. 27, 2001]. However, if you want to see women who are "brawny as fuck" deliver "bone jarring" hits, the Seattle Rugby Club women would love to have you on our sideline. Think football without the pads, nonstop, bigger field, and no time-outs to call plays or get some water. There are two high-caliber women's team in the area, and at least two local players will travel to Spain this May for the World Cup. Mike, we start practice in January if you're free on Monday or Wednesday nights.

Meredith Bagley



I'm a journalist too, and I feel the need to sincerely thank you for Geov Parrish's story on the year's most over- and under-hyped news stories ["Media Follies," Dec. 27, 2001]. I can't tell you how much many of my fellow reporters over here in New York are sick of the "U.S.A. Recovering" theme in the media. But it's blasphemy for anyone to express such feelings, because of the magnitude of the tragedy. Oh, and one other thing—any other day, and we'd NEVER be allowed to use the word "tragedy" to describe a news event.

Christine Sampson

Levittown, N.Y.

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