Neutral Men? Hah!
I appreciated the article "Supreme Courtship" [March 2], in particular its bringing to light the reality of how little I know about our justices. There was a subtle but troubling aspect to George Howland Jr.'s analysis, however. He asks the question, "How will their [the female justices] personal experience as women affect their interpretation of the legal issues?" He never gets around to asking, "How will the male justices' personal experience as males affect their interpretation of the legal issues?" Why not? Surely he doesn't believe that only women carry their gender identity with them in their work, yet that is what the omission of the question implies. His omission reinforces the notion of male as normative against which females are measured. It affords the male justices the unearned privilege of being assumed to be objective and neutral, as if they are able to divorce their person from their analysis. Hah! I'm wondering what organizations the men have worked with in the past and what kind of legal work they have done. What social clubs do they or have they belonged to? I appreciate Seattle Weekly's frequently progressive coverage, but it's frustrating to fairly routinely encounter these subtle and powerful sex or race biases. C'mon . . . you all can do better than that.
Since 1884, when the first horse-drawn street railway was constructed in Seattle, and since 1889, when the first cable car line was placed in operation and electrification of transit in Seattle began with 70 miles of tracks created within three years, how many more rapid-transit proposals have been made ["A $6 Billion Monorail?" March 2]?
How many elections has Seattle had on the subject? How many bids have been bought and paid for and summarily trashed? With the money wasted, rapid transit could have already been built and rebuilt by now. If there weren't thousands and thousands of vehicles lining up in lanes on the freeway every day, spewing toxic gases around the globe, it might be funny. Delay, delay, delay, another election might be just three years away. In Las Vegas, they planned and created a monorail system in a few years. Sure, the trains are having troubles, but that is fixable. How do you fix vacillation and political gamesmanship that suffocates progress? Right now, Seattle is being choked by both politicians and exhaust.
Patrick M. Kennedy
Las Vegas, NV
As documented in Rick Anderson's article ["$6 Billion Monorail?" March 2], Seattle Monorail Project's insistence that the more bond interest they pay, the more money they save comes right out of the Mad Hatter's tea party: "Up is down and down is up."
At the recent Senate Transportation Committee hearing in Olympia, SMP finally admitted its ill-advised, politically expedient plan using unreliable car-tab taxes to pay off $1.5 billion in bonds has failed. Now they need legislative permission to extend bonding past the state's 40-year limit. SMP's "revenue challenged" tax can't raise enough money in less time.
SMP Finance Director Jonathan Buchter's astounding assertion that longer bonds would somehow save SMP money with a more favorable interest rate is exactly opposite of reality: Longer bonds have higher interest rates because of additional risk and the time value of money. Every Finance 101 student knows that the longer the loan, the more interest you pay. Perhaps SMP board and staff didn't take that course.
Fifty-year SMP bonding will cost more than $1 billion in additional interest over a standard 25/30-year bond. That's real money, better spent on real civic needs than on fattening bondholders' wallets. Buchter's statement was obviously ludicrous to the veteran and savvy members of the committee and the state treasurer, who decisively refuted Buchter's position.
Other SMP board members have chimed in, claiming that "The whole purpose [of longer bonds] is to give us more options and ultimately bring costs down" (Steve Williamson). Longer bonds bring costs down? This is beyond Orwellian. SMP will apparently say or do anything to save their rapidly imploding project and their egos.
With board members and staff like these, it's no wonder the project is near terminal. Who would trust these people with a state billion-dollar, taxpayer-supported, 50-year credit card?
Apparently, not the state Legislature or treasurer, thank God. Neither should we. With everything else at SMP going wrong, it's more reason to pull the plug on this useless project.
Back to School, Geov
Thank you, Geov Parrish. I am so relieved to know that "Overall, Seattle schools have had adequate funding . . . " ["The Kids and City Hall," March 2].
Perhaps Parrish is using the state of Mississippi as his model for social spending. (Didn't I just read that Washington ranks 42nd in per-pupil spending for education?) Does he know there are schools with no budget for library books? Has he checked out the intervals for painting the exteriors and interiors of schools? How often does he think classrooms are swept by custodians? How about by teachers?
Yes, Joseph Olchefske spent $30 million one year that he didn't really have. I promise, however, that the school funding that year was still not remotely near the level our children deserve.
Parrish says that the problem is merely misspending by the district. My news to him is this: The fat is all gone. We're down to muscle. Our budgets have been carved up by the initiative process. Tim Eyman asks the voters if they'd like to pay less taxes, and they answer, "Sure!" Our children suffer the consequences in the form of fewer nurses, less arts instruction, and declining library services.
I don't mean to paint Seattle's schools as desperate places. We teachers do a pretty good job of making do with less. Starve the education system long enough, however, and just like the other underfunded areas of the public sector (small-town public safety, bridge maintenance, road construction), it eventually will break down.
Parrish ought to get out more. He needs to go back to school about education.
Keep Choice Alive
A small but important correction: The school district is proposing to end the "choice" system, but not exactly to "curtail crosstown busing costs" ["The Kids and City Hall," March 2].
Right now, most buses run within a single cluster—that is, one part of town.For example, the Northwest cluster contains (more or less) the U District through Ballard. They are proposing to make the clusters much smaller, or make kids attend their neighborhood school, but I don't believe they have any plans to curtail crosstown busing.
The few buses they do run across town go to special or alternative programs (which draw from multiple clusters) or are the underpublicized buses to "designated out-of-cluster schools" that kids can ride if they are racially "integration positive" for those schools.
If the district really wants to save money, it should keep only those crosstown buses and dump the in-cluster busing altogether. Really, don't waste your money giving middle-class kids like mine a free ride around Ballard. Sure, I'd like to sleep in a little later and use a little less gas, but is it worth killing school choice just for that?
Pope No Joke
I have always enjoyed reading Steve Wiecking's Small World column, but I am very disappointed by his recent, inappropriate comments about our pope ["Shaken, Not Stirred," March 2]. It is a very cheap shot on Wiecking's part, and I feel sorry for his lack of sensitivity. Obviously I misjudged Wiecking's ability as a journalist if he had to resort to producing such a biased and deeply offending article.
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