It was an extraordinary moment. On Tuesday, May 17, a month before the Seattle School District was to settle on a plan to close an enormous deficit, Superintendent Raj Manhas bowed to public outcry generated by his draft and took important components off the table. Schools will not be closed, at least not in 2006–07. The Garfield High School program for high-achievers will remain intact. And all students will remain in their current school, even when it comes time to limit school choice to save busing costs. "I have been right in the middle of the storm," said Manhas stoically. School Board President Brita Butler-Wall praised Manhas for listening to the public and acting accordingly. But this is far from over. The district has to go back to the drawing board to save more than $20 million a year. Manhas noted that an energized public has stepped up to help, and he plans to appoint a committee to help draw up a new cost-cutting plan. And at the press conference was a group of parents and others called the Committee for Public Education, whose members have already started working on the problem. NINA SHAPIRO
25 Years Ago
Reviewers are hailing Redmond writer Frank Parchman's recently released book, Echoes of Fury (Epicenter Press). It's a compelling narrative about how the cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, affected scientists, journalists, loggers, and ordinary folks who experienced it firsthand. Echoes of Fury also is about how authorities, including then-Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, defined and managed the so-called Red Zone in the weeks before the eruption, which killed 57 people. Parchman held a news conference this week with the relatives of some of those victims. He says that after the book was published this spring, he obtained previously sealed and supposedly destroyed court documents that prove Ray lied when she said there was a 20-mile restricted zone around Mount St. Helens—that, in fact, barricades had been moved to "the very flanks of the mountain, allowing unwary visitors to come dangerously close to the volcano and to lose their lives in the eruption. . . . Even after the truth began to leak out in bits and pieces, Gov. Ray continued to callously blame the victims for their own deaths. In written documents and interviews, the governor maintained she had created a much larger restricted zone than she had." Ray died in 1994. The documents also show, the author says, that state officials knew a major eruption was imminent but did nothing to warn the public. Given recent activity at Mount St. Helens and signs that Mount Rainier could be next, that's not merely a 25-year-old footnote to history. CHUCK TAYLOR
King County Executive Ron Sims' plan to turn a 47-mile Eastside–Snohomish County rail corridor into a recreational trail has raised the ire of the folks who run the popular Renton-to-Woodinville Spirit of Washington dinner train, now nearly the sole user of the tracks. While hikers and bikers applaud the rail-to-trail conversion, a red flag ought to be waved by proponents of mass transit. The valuable rail line runs roughly parallel to Interstate 405 and connects Renton, the Interstate 90 corridor, Bellevue, Highway 520, Kirkland, and Woodinville. Shouldn't we at least discuss its future potential for commuter rail or monorail? Once you turn it into a bike path, there's no going back. KNUTE BERGER
Read any good Leviticus lately? The Bible-thumping Eastside minister Ken Hutcherson has. He worries that a mano-a-mano lifestyle is the road to perdition–"rampant homosexuality" is "a symptom of impending extinction," as he and fellow gay-loather Rabbi Daniel Lapin put it in a recent joint communiqué (see Buzz, May 11). It is in Leviticus 18:22, of course, that Hutcherson and others find their biblical justification for opposing gay sex: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." It is such Godly words that drive him, Hutcherson recently told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "God became my coach. The Bible became my playbook. I run the plays the way they're written. That's my life. I have no personal agenda." Yeah, right. Hutcherson can be forgiven for his sports analogies—he's an ex–college and professional football player. And he apparently does take the Bible literally. Or, rather, like most religious hypocrites, the parts that he chooses to take literally. We just couldn't help chuckling at one passage in particular—also in Leviticus—that Hutcherson apparently doesn't heed. As the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them in Leviticus 11:8, referring to swine: "Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." Coach, Ken touched pigskin! Grabbed it out of the air, picked it up from the ground, fondled it, threw it, ran with it—cradled it in his arms and hugged it to his breast! And he still refers to it when speaking of You. What's that? OK. Ken, Coach says you're benched. He's sorry. But faith is love, not hate. And you're just not a team player. RICK ANDERSON
A development soon to be added to the docket of Hearst Communications v. Seattle Times Co., with regard to the Lawyer Preservation Act, aka the Newspaper Preservation Act, and the federally sanctioned joint operating agreement (JOA) between The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"Justice Dept. drops antitrust investigation of Seattle Times." —Times, Saturday, May 14. Translation: "We're just a humble $900 million family-owned business—but fuck Hearst to death! No way are we ever going to put that lame P-I globe logo on our delivery vans."
"Justice won't tackle JOA dispute just yet. It may revisit newspapers' battle if antitrust issues arise." —P-I, same day. Translation: "One false move, Frank Blethen, and this place will be crawling with feds. Meantime, hand over the eagle—or Eric Nalder gets it!"
"If the companies were to decide to terminate one of the two newspapers under terms that were not part of the JOA as approved by the Department of Justice, the division would need to evaluate the antitrust issues raised by such a decision." —Justice Department news release, Friday, May 13. Translation: "We don't care who ends up owning the Times, you're not going to fold the P-I without first being tortured by Alberto Gonzales. Now, where'd John Ashcroft put that leash?"