Dems Lean Too Far Left
Just finished reading Knute Berger's piece on the economy, and taxation, and our impending doom under Bush ["Worse Than the Gilded Age," March 17]. A few minor thoughts to disregard.
I was born and raised a Democrat—a Chicago Democrat at that. At one point in my life, I was an assistant precinct captain, the whole routine.
Now I'm a registered Republican, and I can't imagine even thinking about voting for any Democrat. Why?
Basically, the Democratic party has shifted so far to the left and included so many "special interest" planks in its platform that even were it to discover the cure for cancer I couldn't vote Democratic. Same holds true for the vast majority of the people I know.
If the Democrats would figure it out, drop their insistence on gun confiscation, er, I mean control, back off the abortion-on-demand routine, and stop trying to buy votes by pandering to every class of victim they can invent, they'd probably start winning in the fly-over zone again.
Most of the country, outside of the two coasts, is a good bit more conservative than the Democratic agenda, and it will be harder and harder for them to portray themselves as champions of the working class, which, if I recall from my youth correctly, is what they always were. How in God's name can a candidate with $23 million worth of house to his name run as a candidate of the people?
Monorail Pulls A Fast One
I am a transportation professional working in an executive position in one of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region's major transit agenices. I have read with great interest your detailed analysis of the problems and issues with the Monorail company vs. Sound Transit ["Monoreality," March 3].
The Monorail company is pulling a fast one on Seattle taxpayers. There are many potential, even fatal, flaws with their proposal. No property on earth (or at least check Japan, the most aggressive operator of urban monorails) has ever built a single-rail monorail where trains go both directions on a single beam with passing beam sidings. Trains and light-rail lines go from double-track to single-track operation all the time, but monorails switching from one beam to the other for basically a single-beam operation is a very slow and time-consuming procedure (minutes instead of seconds on a train). No monorail system in the world does what these jokers are proposing.
Counting on Seattle Metro Transit bus passengers to transfer is another well-known ploy. The idea is particularly ridiculous if bus riders have to pay another fare to ride the monorail (in fact, they won't unless Metro forces buses to terminate at monorail stations, a potential new mutiny). Cleveland tried this ploy in the '50s to build ridership on their new heavy-rail rapid-transit line. It didn't work. If the combined bus-monorail travel time, including transfer time, is not significantly faster than taking the bus straight through, customers will prefer to continue their trip on the bus!
Houston looked seriously at monorails, dropped them, and is building a successful light-rail system. So should Seattle.
Some Monorail Balance
I believe Rick Anderson's article on the monorail ["Monoreality," March 3] was one-sided toward the negative aspects of the monorail. We do need financial accountability and the monorail commission should not have a blank check. Anderson should have balanced his article with the positives. For example, he stated that there would be 500 parking places lost. He could have added that fewer cars in downtown Seattle will relieve congestion, improve air quality, and lessen driver frustration.
The article pictured a monorail platform replacing the McDonald's sign. Anderson stated there would be "unsightly" platforms. To me, McDonald's is unsightly and visually polluting. In reply to "lost business" and revenue, there will also be thousands of construction jobs during construction and businesses springing up around these "platforms." Restaurants and bars along the line will do a thriving business as people realize they can eat and drink and not worry about driving and parking. The monorail will also reduce our reliance on oil. Doing nothing would only make our transportation problems worse. The monorail should be built.
Guarding The Votes
I'd like to thank you for the article on paper-verified voting—or lack thereof ["Black Box Backlash," March 10]. I am personally outraged that our Republican secretary of state has failed to take a strong stance on this issue. After fighting against paper- verified, auditable voting systems for years and supporting corporate vote-counting, he has now flip-flopped to a weak position, barely addressing the "paper-verifiable" issue and leaving huge security concerns completely unaddressed.
His support of "Internet voting" is scary and downright laughable. Find me one, just one, totally secure, 100 percent unhackable Web site and maybe I'll support Web voting.
I think a candidate like Andy Stephenson is exactly what we need to protect our vote because he is actually taking action and he truly believes in this issue. He's filing lawsuits against uncertified (and therefore illegal) elections systems, he's requesting documents, circulating petitions, lobbying public officials, and speaking about the issue at public events. All while his opponents are more concerned with raising money for their campaigns. What a sad sight!
I encourage everyone to educate themselves about this issue, whether Democrat, Republican, or otherwise. This is not a partisan issue. If you vote, it is your issue!
Black Box Technophobia
I understand that people make a good newspaper story, and technology doesn't, but it irks me that a technophobe, unemployed 50-something is the hero of a piece primarily about personalities, politics, gaffes, and power plays ["Black Box Backlash," March 10]. If you don't address the technology in some detail and tell people what they should require of an electronic voting system, who will?
I was wholly responsible for Amazon's credit card processing from mid-'96 to late '99, and was their Y2K project's lead engineer, so I feel more qualified than most to advise about computer security and reliability.
I just want to help give our wobbly republic every chance it can get.
The article "Urban Barn Raising" [March 10] by Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson was informative but contains two incorrect statements. First, the Cascade Neighborhood Council partnered with the University of Washington Department of Landscape Architecture Design/Build Program, not the Department of Architecture, to create the landscape around the Cascade People's Center building. Lecturer Luanne Smith and I led the studio.
Second, the garden on the south side of the building Engdahl-Johnson refers to is not a pea patch (that is actually further to the west) but is a demonstration garden where sustainable practices including rainwater harvesting, drought-tolerant plantings, porous paving, composting, living roofs, and the use of recycled materials would be demonstrated and where visitors would get ideas for their own landscapes, thus functioning as a replicable model of sustainable design.
UW Department of Landscape Architecture
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