Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 19

Vashon schools

Rebuild a school, support our youth

As unofficial mayor of Vashon, I would like to take this opportunity to strongly endorse the school board’s decision to rebuild Vashon High School and install synthetic-turf field and track.

My coaching and teaching career began in 1958, and I have always passionately believed that our youth deserve the very best. Easy to say — not so easy to carry out.

The school board voted 4-1 to move ahead and support our youth. Go, school board!

We in the United States made history by electing Barack Obama our president. His supporters chanted, “Yes, we can!” I hope that we on Vashon will take up this battle cry for our youth: “Yes, we can!”

Bob Hennessey, chair of the Vashon school board, has the backbone and vision to shout loud and clear, “Yes, we can. Our youth deserve the best.”

— Paul Wallrof

Kids, community deserve better

I appreciate Steve Ellison’s thoughtful commentary about the new high school plan (“School board’s ambitious plan still needs some work,” Nov. 5). I agree more details and information need to come out. I am sure the school district will continue to educate the Island about the project. After all, up to now they have done a really good job garnering input and bringing us along on the process.

But I worry that we may be stepping into the same old trap. It is always so much easier to tear down a plan then to do the initial heavy lifting of coming up with it. Especially an expensive plan. Why are we in this mess in the first place? Why is the high school in such bad shape? Have we been putting off an uncomfortable truth again and again?

I fear that due to the economic climate and a natural anxiety about making a commitment about a big project like this, we will delay this decision yet again. Is history repeating itself?

Personally, I think that our kids and community are worth some investment. And that is what it is, an investment, reaping real benefits long down the road. So when some people get stuck on “what is in it for me,” maybe one of the answers is that it is an investment in who we are, where we live and what we are about.

— Shelley Dillon

Horses and traffic

Drivers need to show care on road

As non-motorized travel becomes more popular throughout King County, it’s important that we understand the concerns of all road and trail users.

Encountering a horse and rider when traveling by wheel or foot can be an enjoyable experience. Horses are large, yet timid animals that will react to sudden movements or noises with either a “fight or flight” response. Riders are seldom on the road shoulders by choice. Usually it’s their only way to reach trails or arenas.

When driving in areas where a horse encounter is likely, be alert. Horses hear better than they see. Drive as if you were passing a child on a bicycle. Never honk or throw things at the horse as it may jump in front of your vehicle rather than away from it. If you are on a motorcycle, be especially cautious; the noise will probably frighten a horse. Approach slowly and let the rider do his or her job of controlling the animal. Bicyclists, joggers and other pedestrians can quietly surprise a horse on road or trail. Call out a warning — “On your left!” or “Behind you!” — so both horse and rider are prepared for your appearance.

If the horse seems frightened follow the rider’s instructions. A large object carried by a pedestrian may seem threatening to a horse. If you have a dog with you, don’t allow it to run or bark at a horse.

Please remember to slow down, give the horse and rider plenty of room, and always give horses the right-of-way. Thank you for your courtesy and consideration in sharing the road.

— Sharon Danielson

Ferries

First-in-line system works fine

When living on an Island solely dependent on the ferry system, one gives up a large degree of flexibility and options. A reservation system would severely and negatively impact Island residents.

For instance, one cannot foresee how long a doctor’s appointment in Seattle might take or how much traffic congestion on the West Seattle bridge might affect one’s ability to meet a reservation schedule. One can certainly imagine the ability of some to misuse the system for their own convenience, while others are left wanting.

The need for cell phones or laptops would increase, placing undue financial hardships on some.

The first-in-line system works because all are playing by the same rules.

— Don and Sharon Marsland

Great Depression

Current woes are not the same

Joe Meeker’s colorful story about his two grandfathers’ contrasting personalities and experiences in the Great Depression was fascinating (“Two gramps in hard times,” Nov. 12).

However, as I am sure Joe realizes, the plight of the country during the 1930s was simply incomparably worse than today. Unemployment then was over 25 percent versus the 6.5 percent who are out of work today, and most other measures are just as lopsided.

In fact, conditions through much of the 1970s and ’80s — including bank failure rates, foreclosures, inflation and unemployment — were considerably worse than they are today.

While not dismissing the seriousness of the current financial freeze up, I believe it is at its heart a crisis of confidence following the collapse of a housing price bubble, which was enabled by loose lending.

While Joe may not have meant to imply that the causes of the Great Depression or today’s economic troubles were the failures of “unregulated banks and businesses,” some might’ve got that impression.

Trade protectionism together with a contraction of the money supply by the Federal Reserve and an increase in federal taxes were the key factors that transformed a serious recession into a prolonged depression in the 1930s.

And though there are multiple factors, today’s economic crisis owes more to the mis-regulation — rather than the non-regulation — of the banking industry in an effort to extend home ownership to less creditworthy borrowers.

— Ron Weston

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