Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: April 1

Library

Razing Village would evict many

I find the last issue of The Beachcomber to be incredulous: Front page article about the sale of Vashon Village including ripping down the existing buildings, editorial stating what a wonderful place this would be for a new library and a column by the Chamber of Commerce president headlined, “Island industries need our support today.”

Has anyone stopped to think that there are currently 12 viable businesses in Vashon Village, all of which would be totally disrupted by what would be the largest ever eviction of businesses on the Island?

Some of us will have a very difficult time relocating. A few may not survive. We will all be greatly inconvenienced and economically affected by a forced move.

I have resided in my Vashon Village business location for 20 years. Many of you may have visited my office as the scariest “you never know what is real” Halloween open house, conducted for eight years as my gift to Vashon.

Some of you have attended community meetings in my office on writing the Community Council bylaws, for “Save Our Slip” (fighting against moving the Fauntleroy ferry dock), on a museum for the Heritage Association and most recently, about developing an unbiased survey on the library location.

Sure, I don’t own this place, nor do the other occupants, and because we are businesses we have few tenant rights. We’re at the mercy of whatever plans the current or future owners might desire, which seem to include tearing down our offices no matter what.

But to see Islanders hurrahing over such plans (when there are plenty of other less harmful town core library locations) is just callous. And to then pretend that we want to support Island businesses, well, all I can say is, who do you think you’re kidding?

— Alice Larson

Middle East

Israel a respected free society

In his March 25 letter to the editor, Richard Paulis criticizes me for what he calls misleading and reactionary tactics, yet he never explains what he found problematic in my comments. Instead, he writes to tell us that there is someone in Israel who disagrees. 

It seems that whenever this subject comes up, someone points to an American or Israeli Jew who is critical of Israel and offers that individual’s comments as “proof” that it is right to condemn Israel.   

Israel is a free society known for its wide-ranging political discourse.

Freedom of speech is vehemently defended, as it should be.  Israelis openly express their disagreements with the government and its policies.  That’s what happens in a democracy. Remarkably, Israel has managed to maintain this openness even while facing the pressures of hostile neighbors, insecure borders and judgmental world opinion. 

Certainly, peace is the goal. Mr. Paulis’ suggestion, however, that the situation would somehow become manageable if Israel “acknowledges the injustices it has inflicted” is sadly simplistic. 

The fact remains, undisputed by Mr. Paulis, that Hamas is an organization dedicated to murdering Jews. That makes negotiations for peaceful coexistence somewhat challenging regardless of what Israel “acknowledges.” 

Mr. Paulis misunderstood my purpose in writing. I was not trying to “solicit support for Israeli attacks,” nor was I proposing militarism as a solution. I was merely trying to add substance to a one-sided and shallow portrayal of the situation by another writer. I don’t believe the cause of peace is furthered by sitting in the safety of our quiet Island and condemning those who struggle to find solutions 10,000 miles away. 

— Andrew Schwarz

School bond

Fiscal sensibility is important

In the wake of the recent school bond vote, there are a couple of things for those who were in favor of the bond issue to consider aside from consoling themselves that the current economy was largely the factor that delivered the death blow.

While there is no doubt that the economy played a big role in the vote, there were at least two other shots that were fired across the bow of the school board and those in favor of the bond as it was offered.

The first shot is that the school board, and those who favor such bond issues, have effectively been put on notice that they can no longer simply expect to put forth bond issue proposals with rhetoric that makes references to “doing it for the children” or “for the schools” and expect the Island taxpayers/property owners to just open up their wallets and purses or get out the checkbook and, carte blanche, pony up the funds.

The second shot that was fired was the fact that the folks will not accept taking money initially budgeted for maintenance and using it for operating expenses such as teachers’ wages, etc., at the expense of letting the facilities deteriorate; i.e. no “deferred maintenance” policy is acceptable if it leads to poor maintenance.

Schools and education of our children is important; the operation and maintenance of the school infrastructure is important, but so is fiscal responsibility. Do not simply think there is an endless supply of taxpayer money in the name of schools, or that you can let the infrastructure decline in the future and that all you have to do is float another bond and it will always see the light of day ... not necessarily.

— Douglas E. Larsen

Luechtefeld letter was right on

Many thanks to Daniel Luechtefeld for his letter of March 25, “Abandon the high school.”

In the months leading up to the special election I voiced these very sentiments, but had my opinion discounted as anti-education, anti-community, contrary, etc.

It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks how many within the community will write in to demonize Mr. Luechtefeld for speaking from what is arguably a common-sense perspective.

— Robert Harvey

Closing school would harm kids

Closing Vashon High School and sending our teenagers off-Island for education is not well thought out. I feel compelled to point out some flaws in Mr. Leuchtefeld’s proposal. Save some money on one hand, but at what cost?

High school starts quite early — often earlier than a normal work day — and students have many demands on them after school: sports, jobs, specialty classes, etc. Studies show increased sleep would benefit teens, not getting up even earlier to ferry across to school. Students would be returning later, breaking vital ties to their relationships in their families and our community, and not creating better ways for them to integrate, which is what is vital to their personal growth.

Local economic health is tied to quality education in the communities: Every property value would drop on this Island. Who is going to buy the 2,500-plus-square-foot homes on Vashon? Can families of two people (who will surely predominate, should we abandon the high school) support the various Island businesses? The loss of valuable on-Island jobs would force more people to commute or consider leaving the Island. All businesses and services on Vashon would see a constriction in the local economy — quite a cost, indeed.

The Blue Heron and Vashon Park District, which employ many and provide programs for adults, exist in part because of funding provided by families with children. Both would be adversely affected by the proposal. When you lose families with teens, the younger siblings go, too. Vashon Dance Academy, The Harbor School and other Island entities would be impacted.

In short, abandoning the high school is signing a death warrant for our way of Island life.

Excellent education might be gotten off-Island — but at a very high cost — and we have excellent education right here, even if the buildings need work and the cost is substantial.

— Julie Shannon

Election defeat wasn’t overwhelming

I was an active volunteer for the recent school bond election and commend The Beachcomber’s objective coverage of this controversial issue. I do take exception to some inferences noted in follow-up stories and letters.  

The Beachcomber’s article in the March 18 issue characterized this as an “overwhelming” defeat. As I write, election tracking shows the nays outnumber the yays by only 106 people; this is hardly overwhelming. What makes it overwhelming is our state law requiring a 60 percent supermajority for bond elections.

If this were a presidential or gubernatorial race with a 51-49 percent split, who knows — the yays may have eventually prevailed. From the beginning, we knew this was an uphill battle, and this close number count shows a great deal of progress.

Secondly, some have inferred that the campaign ignored the opinions of senior citizens. There were a number of seniors who were very active in the campaign effort and strong supporters of the school bond. With their help, efforts were made to provide outreach and information to this important group of voters.

It is incorrect to infer that we would have been foolhardy enough to ignore our senior citizens. Although some senior citizens opposed the bond, one can not assume this means that the majority did. Our senior citizen volunteers were some of our most active, eloquent and passionate supporters.

­— Shannon Flora

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