Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Oct. 1

School libraries

Support PIE

No, it’s not “Rolling Stone.” But check out the cover of “School Library Journal” (www.SLJ.com) and the three “Spokane moms” who “saved school libraries” — for another year, anyway. Their advocacy — and the allotted dollars that come with it — is heartening news.

We’ve been lucky on Vashon. Year after year, school librarians turn to Partners in Education (PIE) for books and technology; PIE always finds money to help us.

In some political circles, book banning is considered a good career move. This community’s support for PIE has stemmed a more insidious form of book banning — the disappearance of good reading material because there is no money to buy it.

PIE volunteers will be calling for your donations. School libraries are just one of PIE’s many beneficiaries throughout the Vashon Island School District. We are so grateful!

— Peggy Kallsen

Vashon High School librarian

Proposed bond

It’s more than district lets on

How do you feel when you hear that, for only on average $60 a year more, we can build new classrooms for the high school, renovate the existing high school, add a second gym, improve the theater, upgrade our practice fields and more?

Now how do you feel when you hear that these same improvements will cost on average $700 more a year per household than what you are paying in 2008 for our local school levy?

What would you say if I said both statements are true? The school district uses the sentence, “The average combined tax rate for bond and capital project levies for 1996 through 2008 was $52/month for a $400,000 house.”

What the school district is not saying is that since a capital projects levy retired in 2007, our local school taxes went down substantially in 2008. If this school bond passes — either option — our local school taxes can double. Yes, I said double.

So there are two ways to consider this. Using their method, it looks like we’re only paying $60 more a year for 20 years — the life of the bond — for a total tax liability of $1,200. However, if we compare it to our 2008 taxes alone, then we’re talking about $700 a year for 20 years for $14,000 for the life of the bond.

I just want full disclosure, and then we as informed citizens can vote with confidence that we have all the information.

— Hilary Emmer

Politics

Intolerance is a reality

My compliments to Kaelen Burton, Dave Burton and Katy Mullen for bringing up a very real issue on Vashon Island (“Defacing a McCain sign was intolerant,” Sept. 17) and to The Beachcomber for its editorial about the intolerance those with conservative viewpoints encounter frequently on Vashon.

The ironic thing that was well pointed out by the Burtons and Mullen is that while many on the Island consistently pat themselves on the back for progressive, open-minded and enlightened views, their confidence in the correctness of those views makes them intolerant towards any viewpoint other than their own.

If you think expression of any view other than the majority one is met with open arms here on Vashon, you are sorely mistaken. This happens in our classrooms, in clubs, at committees and elsewhere.

Because of this intolerant atmosphere, the conservatives on the Island are silent as protection; they’re concerned about being ostracized.

The most infuriating thing about this is the view that if someone doesn’t see the “correctness” of a left-leaning position, he or she is undereducated or misinformed.

You know that superior tone you hear if you really listen about all of the poor people in middle America who just don’t get it. Though it is absolutely acceptable to have strong opinions, as I do, I would not presume to tell you that all of my positions are without error.

I am re-evaluating constantly and usually fall somewhere in the middle. Ask yourself the following question: “Do I think all conservatives and Republicans are stupid?” Or conversely: “Do I think all liberals and Democrats are stupid?” If the truthful answer is “yes,” you are a bit intolerant and should probably stop wearing that open-minded badge so confidently.

Meanwhile, I had my own recent brush with this issue. Today, after a workout at the Vashon Athletic Club, I came out to my car to find it had been gouged and keyed.

Angry, wondering why someone would do such a thing, I started to look over my shoulder to back out, when I saw what might be the unfortunate answer. Last night, I put a sign in the back window of my car. It was a sign for McCain/Palin.

— Andy Amstrup

Produce

Find store’s local section

While selling at the Saturday Farmers Market in the Village Green, we were approached by numerous angry customers concerned that the produce tent sale taking place in the Vashon Thriftway parking lot was undermining the Farmers Market.

People seemed to think that Thriftway is attempting to cash in on the burgeoning local food movement.

Having spent the last 12 years attempting to cash in on the local food movement (farming and selling at local farmers markets from Fremont to Tacoma is my family’s sole source of income), I am bemused to hear these concerns.

Surely people realize that Islanders will not be fooled by a striped tent or stacks of produce on the pavement into believing that it’s just the same as “Island grown.”

Is “Island grown” food superior? As a local farmer, of course I believe it is, otherwise I wouldn’t go to the trouble. I can’t think of any occupation that is riskier, dirtier or more physically demanding (yet it’s also very rewarding).

I challenge all Islanders to decide for themselves if “Island grown” is better. Come to the Farmers Market, go to a farm stand or go to Thriftway and ask the produce crew to steer you to the “Island grown” section.

There you will find a very generous display of produce from a number of Island farms, including my own. We make several deliveries each week to ensure freshness.

Produce manager Henry offers a fair price and is willing to talk to any local producer about stocking their product.

The store employees are positive and supportive, from the produce clerk to the cashier and courtesy clerk.

This support is essential, especially on a rainy day like the one last Saturday, when the harvest festival took place.

I don’t fault Islanders for staying home on a rainy Saturday instead of venturing out to the Village Green for the Farmers Market; support for local produce has its limitations.

This is why we are so thankful for Thriftway and its warm, well-lit aisles on a rainy day.

— Matthew Langley

Langley Family Farm

and Langley Fine Gardens Nursery

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