Letters to the Editor

We are becoming a second-class higher education system. . . . The bill on a decade of tax cuts is coming due.


I thought George Howland Jr.'s article "Biotech Land Rush" [Nov. 19] was a great introduction to the battle over biotech. This is what I learned from the article: Seattle is a cheap whore who is willing to sell her children for drugs.

Susan Tillitt



In George Howland Jr.'s fine piece on the "Biotech Land Rush" [Nov. 19], Port Commissioner Paige Miller claims that small business employers "don't pay very much" and "employ just a small number of people." In fact, the Port's own 2000 economic study of Fishermen's Terminal (now deeply buried) indicated that the small businesses based at that facility produced 5,306 jobs, $256 million in wages, and $161 million in business revenues. Those numbers dwarf the economic stats of the cruise industry giants for whom the Port recently jacked King County taxpayers to pay for a second terminal.

Neither the arrogant Miller (who told me that Fishermen's Terminal was a "living museum" and that "fishermen were from Missouri") nor the sleazy Mic Dinsmore (the Port CEO who informed me that my industry was dead) nor Paul Schell with his art gallery visions of "Geneva on Puget Sound" and "creative communities" has any interest in serving the nitty-gritty core of marine businesses that comprise Ballard/Fishermen's Terminal/Interbay. To these compradors, we're just Old Seattle natives living on real estate slated for the next Immunex giveaway of public land.

I hope Mayor Nickels does, in fact, have some spine and stands up to the Port in defense of existing small maritime businesses and the preservation of the Interbay industrial corridor. Otherwise, what is Seattle going to produceoffice space?

Pete Knutson

Friends of Fishermen's Terminal, Seattle


Nina Shapiro's article "Advanced Degree of Angst" [Nov. 19] got it right. While former University of Washington President Richard McCormick's infidelities are deplorable and the athletic department's scandals embarrassing, the real disgrace is the decades-long disinvestment in higher education in this state. But Shapiro painted a picture that would have readers think that all is well in the schools of health sciences and other grant-supported enterprises. The effects of wrongheaded budget decisions by the Legislature and governor pervade every program on the UW campuses.

What has been happening for the 15 years I have been at UW is a corrosion of the teaching/learning environment. We are becoming a second-class higher education systemand stateas a result of the prevailing philosophy that taxes are bad, that government is inefficient and can cut ever more without consequences. The bill on a decade of tax cuts is coming due.

Teaching and learning require the time and attention of students and teachers. And, to reverse an old adage, money is time in college settings, more so in a research university like UW. If you want to have faculty attend to teaching, you have to fund them to do so. If you want students to invest in learning, you have to give them the space and time to do so. Starving the university of teachingmeaning statefunding has done just the opposite.

Let me illustrate that point by relating a recent development in my school, the School of Public Health. Faculty (and staff) in our school are much lower paid than at our peer institutions. The Legislature has granted precious few salary increases in the past 15 years, so after the 2002 legislative session when once again no raises were granted, our dean obtained an agreement from the UW administration: We can increase faculty salaries by the percentage each position is below the median of our peer public health schools, but no state money may be used for the increases.

The average public health faculty is supported 80 percent on grants, 20 percent on state teaching funds; research heavily subsidizes teaching already. If I want to see any of this salary increase, I need to chase more research dollars, not spend more time teaching. This new "deal" gives an even greater incentive not to teach!

On the student side, the picture is just as bad. Less state funding means fewer courses, larger classes, less individualized attention from the teacher, and more students working more hours to pay for higher tuition bills.

So, it's not just that some departments are starved of state funds, it's that every student is getting less than we couldand shouldbe providing. The magical process of learning is being starved of the nurturing it needs, and in the process, we are robbing our youth of their future.

Aaron Katz

Faculty, UW School of Public Health, Seattle


"In some ways, [Capt. Jack] Aubrey has more in common with Bill Clinton." "He's charismatic. Democrats tend to think rightness is more important than popularity . . . " [Mossback, "Master and Conundrum," Nov. 19].

Knute Berger really should try stand-up comedy. I rolled on the floor laughing at the above quotes. The ol' draft dodger and destroy-the-aspirin-factory-from- a-thousand-miles-away swashbuckler as "hero"? And, of course, the former sleazebag-in-chief and race panderer always put rightness before his own popularity. These are great punch lines. Berger won't need but a few more before he'll be a star on Comedy Central.

Mark Nameroff



Rick Anderson's article ["Elevated Interest," Nov. 19] failed to point out that Richard Stevenson also happens to be the board member who suggested to Seattle Monorail Project staff to hold off on issuing bonds prior to receiving bids from construction bidders. This is the kind of prudent advice that Seattle taxpayers should be thankful for.

Chad Maglaque



When I was a sophomore at the University of California-Santa Cruz in 1987-88, I was part of the percussion ensemble. At one of our concerts, I played in a piece for four drums by Steve Reich, along with La Koro Sutro, one of Lou Harrison's masterworks ["Roly-Polymath," Nov. 19]. Many concerts drew musical well-knowns from the area, and that night Harrison happened to be in the audience. I was so nervous that my hands were shakingit felt like the involuntary spasms of a landed fish on a boat deck, with a sound from my drum that matched. Somehow, I got through the piece without any train wrecks, but I was so ashamed that after the piece ended, I kept my eyes down to the floor.

Suddenly I heard the audience begin to come alive with applause. I looked up, and in that tiny concert hall, about four rows back and directly in front of me, was this bear of a man, Harrison, standing and clapping furiously, all the while looking right into my eyes. He was like this huge cheerleader, almost encouraging the audience to applaud.

I was astonished. I do not believe Harrison really enjoyed the Reich piece, or our playing, as much as he wanted the group and me to know that he supported the musicians. Here was this icon of modern music doing his damnedest to support a trembling student who sounded awful. I'll never forget those huge eyes that said, "Hey, it's OK, dammit, be strong. I support you, I support you facing your fears! Take your rightful place and don't be ashamed."

Sometimes I've learned the most important lessons in what I've thought were the worst situations. I salute the spirit of Lou Harrison.

Christopher Robin


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