Company for the People

In Good company

I just wanted to tell you how wonderful I thought Nina Shapiro's article on Costco was ["Company for the People," Dec. 15]. Two and a half weeks ago, I was hired in Costco's travel agency. I have been in total disbelief at how different the whole atmosphere and attitude here is than at any other job I've had. Never before have I felt so genuinely cared for and taken care of, as well as actually trusted to be a competent employee rather than micromanaged.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have been hired here that I've thanked my lucky stars every day since, and I really appreciate that Shapiro gave Costco's wonderful employee treatment the attention it deserves. There are so many things to hate about corporate America, but this corporation allows me to feel important and have confidence in my future and in knowing that I'm working for a company I believe in and that is doing good in the world.

C. Schultz


The Costco Class

"There's a class element" to Costco's success, writes Nina Shapiro in her attempt to show that Very Kerry Costco is so much more sensitive (wages! women! health care! Democrats!) than BushMaster Wal-Mart ["Company for the People," Dec. 15]. That class is Slumming Blue-State Yuppie.

Costco is a People's Company, asserts the article's headline. The People at the People's Company are high-end metrosexual consumers savoring the frisson of power shopping for an "array of high-end products" sold under stadium lights. The People, in other words, are snobs who linger over overpriced coffee, overpriced real estate, designer jeans, designer drugs, and Seattle Weekly.

Cody Kerns


Buying Time

Nice job on the Costco story ["Company for the People," Dec. 15]. In an era when time poverty whups financial poverty in my household, I implicitly trust the value proposition Costco provides. I can buy any item they offer and feel confident that when the cost of my time is factored into the purchase price, I always do best at Costco. Or in the plain language with which I counsel my son in college, who has his own Costco card, "You can never have too much toilet paper in the house."

John Robert Hill


Verify the Vote

Great article about the gubernatorial race and the need for election reform in Washington ["The Ballot Botch," Dec. 15]. I'd like to clarify one thing, though: If King County were using VoteHere VHTi as its independent audit and voter verification technology, King County Council Chair Larry Phillips would have known that his ballot was missing from the final results much sooner. Better yet, he could have alerted Dean Logan's staff and kicked off an audit process to trace the problem to its source.

Here's how it would work: The VHTi voter receipt is like an ATM receipt, which you take home and later reconcile against your bank statement (though we add protection of the voter's privacy and ballot secrecy). Phillips and other voters would get a receipt. Meanwhile, Logan would publish the "Election Transcript" for independent audit by the D's, R's, League of Women Voters, and others. The Election Transcript includes all the ballot, receipt, and chain of custody data in the election. That's the transparency part described in the article—anyone can scrutinize all the data, end-to-end, from the election.

Then Phillips could verify that his vote was counted (and counted properly) against those independently audited results. He would compare his receipt codes against the audit results from the D's, R's, LWV, or whomever he chooses to trust. If his ballot were lost, he'd know immediately and could kick off an audit to trace the problem to its source. All voters who verify their receipt against the independently audited election results would be able to alert Logan in a timely way and with traceable evidence to assist in finding errors.

What we're doing is new and novel in the world of elections, but we're just bringing levels of auditability and voter (customer) verification in elections up to the same levels we take for granted in banking, e-commerce, credit card, and other trusted transactions we make millions of times per day, safely and verifiably. Until we improve auditability and verification, there is no incentive to improve election accuracy, because there is no voter (customer) accountability and verification built into the system.

Tom Mereckis

VoteHere, Bellevue

Shame on Steve

Steve Wiecking just doesn't get it [Small World, "Blue Boy," Dec. 15]. If he doesn't like beautiful music sung incredibly well, I feel sorry for him.

His scathing review of Clay Aiken's special stunk of special interest. His own. So he doesn't like the guy. Maybe if Aiken knocked over a liquor store or raped a neighbor and got arrested for drunk driving, Wiecking would be happy.

It is truly a shame that in this modern world, where we are deluged on a daily basis with the miserable shenanigans of many in the media spotlight, a truly fine young man who can sing the pants off nearly anybody out there has to be constantly bombarded by so-called experts who apparently can't understand a good deal of the music lovers in this country who find this young man refreshing as well as super talented.

Dot Mahaffey


Ho, Ho, Ho

I want to thank Steve Wiecking for starting my day out with an incredibly big laugh [Small World, "Blue Boy," Dec. 15]. I was actually on the floor of my office, as I fell out of my chair. I find it strange that so many people have been fooled into believing that Clay Aiken is an incredible talent. I skipped the special, as I had no reason to subject myself to Clay for an entire hour, but I did sneak a listen to "Mary Did You Know," the song most highly touted by fans from his new album. I just don't see it. He comes off as robotic and unemotional in his delivery, and all of his songs sound exactly the same to me. I applaud Wiecking for his honesty and humor.

Robert Sands

Royal Palm Beach, FL

Rotten Review

Clearly your food critic is better suited for a critique of a Domino's pie ["Italianissimo," Dec. 15]. Seattle has been blessed to have three traditional pizzerias arrive in town, with Via Tribunali being arguably the best. I am stunned by the misinformation in this review. The pizza dough is not made at Osteria la Spiga, one of Seattle's gems, although the menu clearly states that they do make the lasagna. Wine is very much available by the glass. The reviewer did not even get the proper spelling of the name of the restaurant. By the way, since when has this open-minded city had a problem with someone being bilingual or, apparently even worse, Italian (which I am not privileged to be)?

Ethan Meginnes


Fois Gross

In reference to the inhumanity of making foie gras—i.e., shoving grain into a duck's esophagus through a tube "three times a day until the animal's liver weighs roughly a pound and a half (up to a third the bird's total weight)"—Michael Ginor replies, "There's no other way to make foie gras. There has been nothing in 5,000 years, and there will be nothing in the next 7,000" [Gift Guide 4: Food & Drink, "Making a List, Checking It Twice . . . "]. Well, you know what, there's only one way to skin a cat, and that's to skin a cat, whether it be "in 5,000 years . . . or the next 7,000." Oh, great, now I've given Ginor ideas about a new business venture. Maybe he can title it "Foie Gross."

Timothy J. Verret

Austin, TX

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