Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 11

Lawsuit: VIFR is not a faceless institution

I started EMT class with Lanora Hackett. We were mature students with considerable life experience. Because of our performance, we were asked us to help lead the class. Early on Vashon Island Fire & Rescue trusted us to do the right thing.

I was also in recruit school with Lanora. We clearly saw each other’s imperfections there. But the lessons tempered us, made us more resilient. They taught us how crucial it is to work as a team and how sacrosanct trust is in the fire service.

Lanora and I started with VIFR during a very troubled time. We often talked about the stories and the whispers spread by hopelessly angry people. We said we would focus on the work and the needs of the community.

Unlike the lawyers, I have intimate knowledge of Lanora’s claims against VIFR. Obviously Lanora did not like everyone there. Neither did I, but I could still learn from them. Shared experience tends to bridge differences and heal animosities. It is a fundamental aspect of working as a team. A lesson Lanora consistently failed to grasp.

VIFR is an inherently tough culture, but they bent over backwards to help us succeed. Civilians have no idea how difficult it is to be a firefighter, so they cannot understand how incredibly difficult it is to become a paid firefighter. Lanora’s lawsuit took advantage of that naiveté.

I was devastated when Lanora told me she had filed her lawsuit. VIFR is not a faceless institution; it is a very small group of people who strive to do the right thing. We are not perfect. If we are guilty of anything, it is that we trust too easily. Some people take advantage of that trust. We will learn from this experience.

— David Sova, volunteer firefighter/EMT, Vashon Island Fire & Rescue

Lawsuit: Many firefighters unfairly tainted

Joshua Nunger, Jason Everett, Tom Bruskotter, Joe Wolfe, Randy Tonkin, Daron Buxton, Cathy Bonner, Steve Palmer, Mark Bronnell, Lee Kimsey, Bill Buchanen, Mike Garvey, Leslie Pohl and Cari Coll, all career staff at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, were not named in the sexual discrimination suit and are innocent. Your report on the sexual discrimination suit would have the public believe that VIFR is a environment that is hostile toward women. All the professionalism, qualified legitimate employment and exemplary service, is potentially tainted with doubt and judgment as a result of this falsely assigned stigma.

— Juanitta Lang, Kingston

School bond measure: Band-Aids won’t fix ailing structures

For $55 million we can put Band-Aids on Vashon High School and still be left with too few, too small and poorly lit classrooms, buildings without toilets, a condemned maintenance facility, classrooms that open to the exterior hundreds of times daily wasting tons of energy, a huge exterior surface and multiple systems that must be maintained, a theater with inadequate green space and no toilet backstage, locker rooms and bleachers that are not handicapped-accessible, an obsolete track, inadequate gym space and a campus that is virtually impossible to secure. All for $55 million. And we are stuck with these problems for the next 20 to 30 years.

Or we could each spend a bit more and solve these problems. We’d also have the benefit of a building design that is both “green” and efficient for maintenance, janitorial work and the work of being students and teachers.

If money is truly a concern, people need to reflect briefly on the history of the problem with the high school. In 2005 there was a plan to build a new high school for $70 million that the community threw out. Now we are refurbishing 80 percent of the high school and adding a new classroom wing for $75.5 million. I don’t think it’s too difficult to see the trend if this bond doesn’t pass. I suspect we will pay even more for the same thing in the future or, worse, pay more for even less while being penny-wise and pound-foolish in the interim by continuing to throw good money at this failing structure.

While Vashon High School might have served past graduates well, I think we will begin to see some traction on the quality of education we can offer if this community cannot see the forest through the trees and pass this bond.

— Scott Benner

New schools will trigger growth

Voting against schools is one of a few ways we can impede growth.

Consider: Parents get sizable income tax credits for any number of children they choose to have. Then they enroll their children in public school without co-pay. Too bad parents don’t cover the cost of educating their children, thus making schools none of my business.

It’s already expensive to live on Vashon. It will certainly get much more expensive with fancy new schools, library and passenger-only ferries. Boosters say these things are good; it makes Vashon “world class.”

A new school building will add to your property taxes directly. The resulting growth could raise property assessments, hence taxes, substantially; world class is expensive.

Vashon has always been a fine place; it doesn’t need growth. Further, if you care at all about future generations, have fewer children and vote to impede growth. It’s for the sake of the kids.

— Jeff Schnelz

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