Letters to the Editor

"Transit belongs on city streets, not in parks. . . . "

City Under AssaultThe soul of Seattle is under assault on the waterfront and at the Seattle Center ["So Long, SoDo" and Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]. Mossback clearly sees the blasphemy of running the monorail across the face of the International Fountain. The promoters of such a shortsighted scheme claim that the public deserves an aerial view of the Center grounds and the arts venues there will benefit from the marketing boost of that visual exposure. If so, the same argument prevails in spades for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, our aerial motion-picture billboard promoting the waterfront and downtown to a hundred thousand consumers daily! If Rising Above It All is good for the monorail, it's better for the viaduct. If it's no good for the viaduct . . . well, you follow the logic.Speaking of views and the waterfront, I prefer the view of the mighty orange cranes and colorful cubist display of containers on Terminal 46 as a robust symbol of Seattle to the world. Exchanging that for a basketball hoop; an isolated, artificial residential zone; and "knowledge industry" office towers is a bad deal for Seattle now and 100 years from now. Besides, those savvy crane operators pull down more than most "knowledge workers," so who is smarter? Bravo to Alec Fisken for being a champion of labor, economic diversity, and a perpetual working waterfront for all to see.Irene WallSeattleThank you for Knute Berger's editorial [Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]. In answer to Berger's rhetorical query, and as one of the "thousands of people who use the Center," here's one "soul" speaking out. In opposition to his editorial.I speak as a born-and-bred native. A mossback. I share the concerns of indi­viduals, even short-term-use festival organizers, of harming the Center grounds.As a professional actor, I have worked on or around the Center for nearly a quarter of a century. I have long lamented the lack of a transportation alternative, both for myself and my audiences getting to and fro, when the Center is firing on all cylinders with plays, concerts, ballets, and games happening simultaneously.I am amused and irked by the self-­serving arguments presented by One Reel. How often do festival organizers visit the inviolable Seattle Center the day after one of these carnivals? The "sacred" space? The amount of garbage and wasted, rotting food alone is shocking. But it's the parklike feel of the campus that suffers the most. In fact, with the exception of the few days that these major festivals occur, once Folklife begins the summer festival season, many sections of the Center's open spaces are closed to the public for restoration as landscapers scramble to repair the damage in time for the vendors and crowds of the next event in line on the calendar.The monorail will never negatively impact the parklike feel of the Center to anywhere near a level approaching the extent that these same, very truly concerned festivals and their organizers (and supporters in the media) do now. The arguments of the lobbyists of One Reel, etc., have more to do with obstructionism and the bottom line than neighborly environmental activism.I do not believe the proposed route of the monorail through the Center will cause the campus harm. I believe that it will enhance the Center. It will combine a palpable infrastructural need with an elegance in design and execution. I see the Green Line's passage through the Center as a beautiful extension, a continuation of the optimism and promise of a better future perfectly captured in the sui generis concept and design of Victor Steinbrueck and his dignified, inspiring tripodal Century 21 Needle.Laurence BallardSeattleThe Soviet CenterI really enjoy reading Knute Berger's column, but I can't agree with "Selling Our Soul" [Mossback, April 28]. If the Seattle Center is the soul of the city, then where's the devil when you need him? Yes, you can find theater, art, and music there, but it's all sealed in a sterile, people-unfriendly moonscape of concrete. What difference will another few columns make?I agree that the city needs a cultural center and a space for the arts and for festivals like Bumbershoot. But wouldn't it be better to embrace this as an opportunity to design a new space somewhere else—one that doesn't look like a product of Soviet Central Planning circa 1972?Cameron CrottySeattleHurrah for Knute Berger saying it like it is regarding the Green Line's threat to Seattle Center [Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]. From my point of view, there are five sacred sites in Seattle: Pike Place Market, Westlake Park, Pioneer Square, Second Avenue at Benaroya Hall (the Garden of Remembrance) and SAM, and, most importantly, the Seattle Center. With the exception of the Market, all will be negatively impacted by the urban blight of the monorail. The site most egregiously impacted will be the Center—which functions as ground zero for the serious and the frivolous. The majority of the time, the International Fountain area, with its expansive green lawn, is a place of repose. If the monorail barrels through, it will never be that again. Seattle should be up in arms at this "taking"—as alarmed as it was when a New York developer threatened to remake the Market. Why it is not is baffling to me. Nonetheless, there are some of us who see the Center as a regional resource—our equivalent of Central Park. Seattleites, don't let this happen. We will live to regret it.Ellen SollodSeattleForget the Fun ForestIs Knute Berger joking [Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]? Has he visited the monorail project's Web site? There are very good, realistic representations of the so-called "impact" of the monorail on the Seattle Center grounds. The line politely skirts the fountain lawn, along an already existing pathway, then moves toward downtown in the same direction as the existing monorail. What people like Berger seem to forget is that the monorail already runs halfway through the Center. The only area affected in a major way is the Fun Forest, and I think most would agree that anything done to that particular portion of the grounds would be an improvement.J. Eric MinchewSeattleWhizzing TransitI couldn't disagree with Knute Berger more about his opposition to elevated transit going through Seattle Center [Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]. Having spent most of my years in the Northeast U.S. and Europe, I have seen numerous examples of how transit can add to the attraction of public spaces in a lively downtown environment. Even in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, transit whizzes close by an active public space. Seattle Center is not Central Park and never will be, unless you want to tear down the Space Needle, the arena, and all the Fun Forest attractions that come with it.Monorails already integrate perfectly into other amusement parks and zoos, and frankly I would put the Center into the same category of open space. It's certainly great public space, but it's active and lively—not pristine and quiet. It was never intended to be quiet. It was and is a fair—a celebration of all that is lively and fun and even raucous in an urban environment. I don't see how the monorail detracts from that. In fact, I see it adding to it.Brian DoughertySeattleShortsighted or Blind?Many people in this town take the Seattle Center for granted, and don't truly appreciate its role in city life and its value as an everyday park and civic gathering space for a multitude of events large and small [Mossback, "Selling Our Soul," April 28]. As we educate people on this issue, they rapidly conclude, as Knute Berger has, that sacrificing forever our best Center park space to satisfy a few special interests is so shortsighted as to be blind. Those pushing this route—which makes no transit sense—seem only interested in getting the monorail as far from them as possible or exploiting it for their own financial interests, from QFC to EMP. One need only walk the International Fountain lawn on a beautiful day to see how senseless it is to forever clear-cut the area with an ugly concrete viaduct.It's not just Queen Anne's park, it's everybody's park, city and region alike. Transit belongs on city streets, not in parks, and Queen Anne will suffer no more inconvenience than other monorail communities in routing the monorail on its streets. The Seattle Center director's weak financial arguments, that by some miracle the monorail will aid the Center, are, like most route rationalizations, patently ludicrous.Thanks to Berger for standing up for our best civic park space. We can only hope our City Council can resist the special-­interest pressure.Geof Loganwww.saveseattlecenter.orgGet Back To BasicsNina Shapiro's otherwise fine article about the contrasts between the energy in Seattle Public Schools and the newly emerging charter schools crowd needs just a few clarifications ["Open and Soon Shut," April 28]. One, Brighton Elementary was forced, by the district, to move into a building that few parents wanted, and therefore its enrollment dropped. Second, the KIPP charter schools force teachers to be available on a nearly 24-hour basis (hence their high teacher resignation rates), and at the charter schools' bill committee meeting in Olympia this past January, they were accorded extra time to present a video and a PowerPoint presentation to the members. That's democracy for you. Third, the charter school started by Andre Agassi in Las Vegas does not run on the funds they receive from the state—they have to add nearly $2,000 per child from private fund-raising. How long can they keep that up? It's not a rational model for a charter school. And finally, to answer the question "Why not try something new like charter schools?" Well, in over 40 states, in hundreds of charter schools with thousands of students, charters have not, overall, performed better than public schools. Charter schools simply take money out of already struggling public schools that are now even more stressed with the heavy hand of No Child Left Behind. There are a few excellent charters, some really bad ones, and a lot of mediocre ones in between. How about our Legislature do their job and first go over the Basic Education Act, and then actually fully fund education, especially the citizen-passed initiatives 732 and 728?Mel WestbrookSeattleGullible About GospelsI'm no Bible scholar, and I think that people like Tim Appelo ought to admit they are not as well, since he falls unblinkingly into the trap for fools set by Elaine Pagels, whose popular "studies" have about as much credibility as Dan Brown's book or Mel Gibson's movie ["The Big-Tent Revival," April 28].Pagels' previous work indicates that she has a personal affinity for the Gnostic gospels like that of Thomas, even while she admits that Christianity as a religion would have disappeared almost as soon as it was born had not some form of ortho­doxy prevailed over the numberless Gnostic texts. The Gnostic "gospels" seem overly personalized to its author; some deny that Jesus was the son of God, others deny that the God of the Jews was the God of Christians, still others believe that not Jesus but every man is the son of God, and all of them suggest chaos. The so-called Mary Magdalene "gospel" barely covers four complete pages; books on this "work" are 99 percent the personal excretion of a commentator.Many gullibles like Appelo, who have no real moral or ethical belief system, swallow anything if it tears down "traditional" religious codes or forces them to conform to his/her lifestyle—preferably if it allows for personal "freedom." No doubt when Pagels visits Seattle, she will find the fool's paradise that has allowed her to be a successful purveyor of Bible fiction.Mark KittellSeattleLetter of the WeekA friend of mine has been forwarding a bunch of your discusting low trashy articles were you bash America as if it hasn't done enough for you! You flannel wearing fucks in the "Great" northwest had better listen: THERE IS A REAL AMERICA OUT HERE AND WE HAVE HAD IT WITH YOU TRASHING OUR CHERISH HOPES FOR THE GLORY OF A GREAT AND CHRISTIAN LAND!!!!Cat got your tongue loser? Where is you big fuckin mouth now, huh punk? In LA we know how to rally for the republic and don't worry all the queers over the hill in Hollywood are in there place and that's the bottom line.Why do you hate America so much? This is the purtinent question. All corispondence with you assholes should begin and end with that fuckin question: "Why do you hate America so much"????Hasn't lady liberty been good to you? I mean, look a guy like you (probably with some fag English degree from one of those left wing colleges) couldn't get a job selling fish but here in USA you get to be a writer of pithy editorials and whatever else and where is the govt to track you down and shoot you? IT DOESN'T HAPPEN FUCKWAD FOR WE BELIEVE IN FREE SPEECH SO SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH YOUR WHINING GODDAMN MOUTHS!!!!!I dare you to print this leytyer. You homo. This is from Real America home of the fuckin brave and whatever and that's the bottom line.I hope you get blowed up when the next terrorism strikes. Space Needle is a gay building anyway, fuck Seattle your not Americans!(PROUDLY!) an American SonLos Angeles, CAWe dare ya: Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail toletters@seattleweekly.com . By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.

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