Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor — March 4

Library: Move will cost seniors

The cost impact to move the library from our village center will weigh heavy on us older citizens. Many of us live in the multi-family units within blocks of our library. We are heavy users of the library, dependent on it for Internet access, audio and video, books and periodicals as well as a place to meet our friends. It is a part of our living room.

Moving our library a mile down Vashon Highway to a renovated machine shop on the K-2 site will cost all village resident substantial money and time to get to the proposed site. It will also mean that many of us will be forced to reduce our use of our library because the distance is far beyond walking range.

I visit the library about three times a week. If I am forced to drive a mile to the proposed new location, that means about $75 a year to me and every other village resident if you estimate car costs at only 25-cents a mile. For those of us who don’t have a car and can’t walk the two miles to get a book, it means relying on public transportation; the present senior rate is 25-cents each way. One very obvious impact in moving our library out of town center will mean severely reduced use by village residents, particularly seniors, handicapped and lower-income families

The developer recognizes this huge social cost to the Vashon community and has offered to try to mitigate the cost to us villagers by providing, at least for the present, a free private jitney service. However, there is no guarantee that a free private transport will continue after the developer and his corporations realize their profits and move on. For the moment it is only a promise to pacify some of our anxieties.

— Jack Churchill

Library: Branch should stay in town

A public library is a core function of a democracy. Its location matters. Its ideal location is in the core of the town center, maximizing access by foot, transit, school bus and private car.

The library reinforces the public realm and the commerce and enterprise that make for a healthy town core. Disassembling that mix, spreading it along the highway, is the recipe for urban sprawl. The 1996 town plan, consistent with county growth policies and the state Growth Management Act, emphasizes the development of a walkable rural activity center with a core bounded by Ober Park to the north and the Monkey Tree to the south.

In many ways placement of the new library is a signal issue with consequences bigger than a single investment. That’s why it is so important to resist a move away from the town core. This is an opportunity for institutional cooperation between taxpayer-supported entities. It makes little sense to fund small town and rural protection on the one hand while at the same time encouraging sprawl-inducing location decisions on the other.

— Dan Carlson

Middle East: Media fail to show truth

Kate Hunter is correct: “The full picture re: the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has not been portrayed in the U.S. media” (Beachcomber, Feb. 18). For a superbly sourced account of Israel and its approach to the Arab world, I recommend the book “The Iron Wall,” by Avi Shlaim (2000), the Israeli international relations professor at Oxford, quoted by Kate Hunter. Or we can simply read the Israeli press to get a more balanced view of current events than what American mainstream media gives us.

— Jessica Lisovsky

Middle East: Let’s define ‘peace’ well

Kate Hunter’s thoughtful feature expressing concern that we do not have the facts on the Israel/Gaza situation is based on her allegation that Israel has blocked outside journalists from the territory. I’ve been unable to confirm this, and the Charles Krauthammer column of Jan. 2, 2009, “Moral Clarity in Gaza,” seems to contradict her.

Krauthammer, wheelchair bound, has not himself been to Israel since his accident many years ago; yet his contacts there have not appeared to be silenced. Even if true, wouldn’t it be more logical that an information block of Israel would more likely serve Hamas’s interests?

There are salient facts omitted from the Hunter article, and I feel that well-intentioned peace activists may not quite understand the total picture.

Four substantive factors must be included:

1. The Hamas slaughtered Israeli women and children, bombed buses of civilians and sent incessant rocket fire on Israel after the 2005 negotiations when Israel voluntarily removed themselves and turned Gaza over to the Muslims as an act of good will.

2. The Islamic mind-set, exacerbated by its lunatic fringes, Hamas and Hezbollah, is dedicated to the extermination of the state of Israel and equally dedicated to killing its own citizens to accomplish that.

3. Muslims cannot be judged by Western values. Why do we not respect that theirs is a culture developed for millennia, with values worlds apart from ours in the West?

4. As a consequence of the above, “negotiation” as we in the West conceive of it, is an impossibility with Hamas.

If Israel is destroyed, is there anyone who can avoid asking, “Who’s next?”

Be sure we define “peace” accurately. Peace of mind — security — is the only real peace, security from slavery and submission, and to find that, humankind will never be exempt from fighting for it.

— Kathryn Shannon

Middle East: Commentary was balanced

Kudos for Andrew Schwarz’s insightful and balanced commentary on the Middle East. It is very important that people look at all aspects of this controversial situation.

 

— Barbara Gross

Schools: High school is cold and grim

I substitute at all three schools. Several weeks ago I was at McMurray in the morning. The classroom was well-lit, roomy and warm. This school called off classes in December when the heating system failed.

I have substituted at Chautauqua when the gym has registered in the 50’s. Jogged those kids around to warm them up.

However, nothing compared to teaching at the high school several weeks ago, when the teacher’s staff room was extremely cold and several teachers came in wearing coats and hats. Several teachers have their “office” here because they must roam from room to room to teach. As I walked past the commons area, I noticed almost every student had on a coat. The room I taught in was small, with students crowded in place, balancing all their books and wearing coats. This room wasn’t real cold but was not ventilated well, and besides, the students exit to their next class to the outside weather.

Maybe the students bones aren’t affected by the cold, but my bones felt it. I’m sure teachers at the high school notice it. But spring is just around the corner, and cold weather will be gone by May. The kids surely can spend many more years (as they have) during the months of October through April without warm, well-lit classrooms. 

Can they? I hope not. Take a tour of the high school during a cold, rainy Northwest day.

— Sharon Munger 

Schools: Measure is too costly

We have always supported Vashon school bonds in the past, although our children went to private schools (where we also paid tuition and contributed to those schools’ capital building campaigns). But this particular bond seems wasteful as it is currently constructed. It appears that $25 million was added to the measure for an add-on wish list of expendible items that go beyond replacement of existing structures.

Defeat this bond and ask the school board to come up with something that is more responsible in this current economic crisis. Island households and businesses are cutting back to weather this storm.

The school board should do the same with a different proposal than this expensive one.

— Gar and Nina LaSalle

Schools: Fancy digs not needed

We have just returned from seeing the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.” My head hurts and my ears are ringing, a must-see movie. More than ever I feel the need to question a $150 million price tag for a school referendum. I believe that’s about $25,000 per household over 20 years given approximately 6,000 homes on the Island minus commercial property. That is on top of an ever growing tax burden. Of course, all children are worth a good education, but there seems to be some confusion over who or what it is that does the teaching. Is it a building or is it teachers?

A price tag of $150 million could buy us the Washington State Ferry system, let alone a school. From what I can see, The Harbor School manages to teach in portables, and they turn out a fine product. I attended a school with 1,500 kids, and we used one gym. They hadn’t invented astro turf in those dark ages, and we all survived.

Both our kids went

through the school system here and became productive members of society from Vashon High School.

There are fewer kids here now, and they have to import 130 students from Seattle to make ends meet. Those parents would not pay one nickel towards this referendum.

Not only is this a difficult time for such short-sighted largess, but it could well be the tipping point for many who are facing financial strains. Don’t kid yourself, if you rent you would also be paying. Your landlord would pass that debt on to you. 

Yeah, kids deserve a good education, partly because it is another debt for them to inherit. I bet they would rather learn in an imperfect structure than have their families move away. Smart and willing kids will learn anywhere. Portables, anyone?

— Chip and George Wright

Ferries: Only hope is citizen plan

Our community spoke clearly to Washington State Ferries (WSF) that “Plan B” is unacceptable. WSF’s response, made clear by The Beachcomber’s Feb. 11 article (“Ferry system floats plan to break up north-end ‘triangle route’), was to make “Plan A” even more expensive, while leaving “Plan B” unchanged.  

Four boats instead of three at the north end? Eliminate any chance of the county’s passenger service succeeding by competing directly with it? The institutional intent is clear to this skeptical observer — their response distracts us with an appealing red herring (four boats!), while their real intent is to make it only more certain that they will have no choice but to proceed with “B” — with a contingency to ensure that if “Plan A” is funded, it will kill the competition.

They’ve taken a bad proposal and made it worse. Take a step back and look at the dynamic. Indeed, our only hope is to present a citizen plan to the Legislature.

— Bob Powell

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