My jaw dropped as I read the article on the affordable neighborhoods in Seattle [Turf, "The Hot Pockets," Nov. 13]. I have always thought of this paper as a bit more sensitive to the racial issues which often divide this city. After opening the article to see the photo of the "pioneers"who had obviously NOT broken turf and built their house of sod in the barren wastelands of SoBeHi, to the inference that living around "Thai people, not Thai restaurants" is an experience in human isolation, I had to force myself to finish reading to see if you could redeem yourselves in any way. You did not.
The whole article reads as a thinly veiled promotion of gentrification, to the utter exclusion of all those who live, work, struggle, celebrate, commune, and die on a daily basis in those "hoods." To imply that those who are buying in now are in some manner saints for doing so is an insult to a large portion of the population and to those of us sensitive enough to read between the lines.
I realize that there are good things that happen when gentrification occurs (lowering of crime rates, more business, etc.), but the article marginalizes people living in the neighborhoods you're promoting and perpetuates the belief that they are just one more thing to fix along with the "decrepit fixers" in South Park.
I, too, bought into a neighborhood that is full of people of other colors than myself. I am guilty of contributing to the gentrification of the Central District, but I do not consider myself a pioneer in any sense of the word. I am a person who bought a house I could afford in a neighborhood full of wonderful, vivacious people, and I am NOT waiting for "others to follow." They are already here.
HOT POCKETS ARE HOTBEDS
Thanks for pointing out these improving neighborhoods—and thanks for not mentioning Columbia City [Turf, "The Hot Pockets," Nov. 13].
I was raised in the ghetto and settled in this state six years ago. I think Seattle at large is afraid of the "ghettohoods"; the reality is that they are hotbeds of potentially great neighborhoods for those of us who are not afraid to take ownership and make our communities better. Sure, I have to call 911 to report the fewer and fewer drug dealers and crack hoes; however, the prospect of affordable housing spurs me and others on!
GO WEST, PEOPLE
Bremerton is the real Seattle access bargain [Turf, "The Hot Pockets," Nov. 13]. I live in a 2,500-square-foot, 100-year-old home with views of the water and the Olympics, within a safe, 10-minute walk to the passenger ferry, which whisks me away to a no-hassle, 30-minute commute to the heart of downtown Seattle and access to all mass transit. I see orcas, seals, and the bountiful Northwest landscape at a fraction of the cost it would take to live in a shoe box near high-density traffic in North Seattle! And a real-estate investment now will pay dividends. New mayor Cary Bozeman, progressive ex-Bellevue mayor, is working with the community to rebuild downtown with a mixed-use plan that calls for condos, retail, and a high-end restaurant on the waterfront due in 2004. We've got a thriving arts community; alternative, friendly people; and a future of promise! West Edge? West Sound!
I live in Crown Hill, and the one thing I think you missed was that there are some pretty nifty places popping up where I meet my friends around here [Turf, "The Hot Pockets," Nov. 13]. Within walking distance of 85th/15th is a new restaurant, the Wild Mountain Cafe—it's no McGrath's, where the blue hairs meet to eat what must be chicken-fried lutefisk. Heck, "the Mountain" even has a full bar. Too, we're within walking distance of upscale Blue Ridge: We can take a Sunday stroll up to Swanson's Nursery to shop, take classes, and have coffee or lunch in one of the best unknown cafes in Seattle. True, we've got two strip joints, one adult store, and a liquor store. But our several seedy pubs boast cheap drinks, decent crowds, and pool tables that an average player can approach.
Now if we could just get a PCC, a Trader Joe's, a book/record store, and an indie coffeehouse, we'd truly become the "unaffordable of the affordable."
SAFE AND SANE REPORTING
The Aurora story was good reading [All Politics Is Local, "Roar on Aurora," Nov. 13]. George Howland's careful and sane reporting of the dilemmas and conflicts involved gives credit for the one thing everybody deserves—people from all sides bringing their goodwill and best efforts forward to solve a problem.
Of course, he got the right answer—namely, it isn't easy balancing differing and competing needs. Safety—you bet we pay attention to it. Millions of drivers expect us to. Small business is the backbone of our economy, which is hurting enough right now. We need 'em both. Getting there is a continuous effort of working together. Thanks for recognizing and reporting this in a manner that goes beyond sound bites and us-versus- them oversimplifications.
NAKED SCHOOL SUPE
I am amazed and grateful that your paper is willing to do what neither daily has had the nerve to do: mention that the emperor has no clothes ["Coalition of Critics," Nov. 13]. I am a 29-year veteran teacher in the Seattle Public Schools who retired early because of the incredible stress created by Joseph Olchefske and, yes, even John Stanford. The former is merely in over his head and arrogant enough to think teachers don't know what they're doing, while the latter was a very well-meaning man who did not understand the concept of shared decision making in education. Neither should have tried running a large district such as ours. Had Mr. Stanford not died so prematurely, there would have been a groundswell of open discontent then. Instead, about 500 teachers (mostly very talented and caring) retired in the same year as I—all of us tired of hearing WE were to blame for the low test scores.
Please keep up the wonderful reporting on an issue so vital to our society. Nina Shapiro, Rick Anderson, and others are what we've needed for quite some time.
FEELING BAD IS NOT ENOUGH
Like Nina Shapiro, I attended the recent Seattle School Board meeting ["Coalition of Critics," Nov. 13]. We sat in the brand-new John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, ankle-deep in red ink and outrage. The only thing more common at Seattle Public Schools is people stepping forward to take responsibility. The superintendent says the buck stops with him and he accepts responsibility for the deficit. The board collectively acknowledges that they are ultimately responsible. Some members have made individual statements accepting responsibility. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, but I don't see how these statements of responsibility do one single thing to fix the problem.
I'm told that the board feels really bad about the way their failure to oversee the senior staff contributed to a financial crisis. They should feel bad. They bungled a public trust. You'll notice that none of them feels bad enough to resign.
The absolute least that I expect is that none of the current board members, except Mary Bass, will run for re-election. At the board meeting, I heard people petition the board to fire the superintendent. How can you expect them to fire the superintendent when not one of them has the integrity to fire themselves?
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