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Letters to the Editor: Jan. 27
Request for donations
Embarrassed by public appeal
A recent appeal in The Beachcomber, asking for donations for my trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, seems to have caused a bit of upset in some quarters of our Vashon community, and I am now feeling that I need to address the issue. Following a complaint to the editor in last week’s Beachcomber and the Beachcomber’s clarification that I did not, in fact, place the appeal for funds in the paper, I would like to fill in a bit of background.
I am a member of the board of directors for the Seattle Sister Churches Program, a committee of the Greater Church Council of Seattle. The Sister Churches program was founded some 23 years ago, as a way for Seattle churches to connect with the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of St. Petersburg. The committee has had, as its main purpose, the raising of funds for a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg. Doctors and clergy of this hospital visited Seattle this past year, and we were invited, in turn, to come as a delegation to St. Petersburg, this year.
I, as one of two orthodox members of the board, was asked to go with this delegation. I had to decline, because our monastery did not have the funds for such a trip. When asked by board members if I would consent to allowing them to attempt to raise the funds needed (about $3,000), I consented. It was one of the Protestant clergy (the board is made up of Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox members) who contacted The Beachcomber, with a request that a public appeal be made on my behalf. When I saw the appeal, as printed in The Beachcomber, I was very embarrassed, but chose not to write a letter to the editor, hoping it would go unnoticed. I was mistaken.
— Abbot Tryphon
All-Merciful Saviour Russian Orthodox Monastery
Taxes are not the answer
I read with some dismay Rep. Sharon Nelson’s appeal for new and higher taxes to support state programs during the recession (“Tough budget hangs over state, lawmakers,” Jan. 13). Wow, that ought to help rev up the economy and create jobs.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to simply demand more revenue to avoid hard (yet necessary and ultimately healthy) adjustments in my business or home financial plans. I could keep staff intact. Continue offering products and services that people aren’t buying. Take my kids on vacations I can’t afford. In other words, I could ignore reality and perpetuate unsustainable practices by simply demanding more revenue. Must be nice.
Keep in mind that the budget crisis Nelson outlined is an illusion, anyway. The shortfall in the coming biennium happens only because revenue does not support ongoing 17 percent increases in spending every two years. The Legislature needs to stop relying on budgets that factor in magical, anti-gravity revenue growth.
Times are tough. Regardless of the promises they might make — or even what we as a spoiled and whiny electorate demand — our representatives have the responsibility to work with real budgets and make hard choices when there isn’t funding to follow through. Evaluate and cut administrative costs. Implement pay cuts and lay-off state workers. If necessary, delay or kill programs — whatever it takes to return to fiscal solvency.
This isn’t that hard: Simply roll back to 2005 spending levels and we’re in the black, with none of the economy-killers Nelson proposes.
The state creates no wealth and must nurture and carefully manage the money it takes from the people it represents. I hope Rep. Nelson has the conscience to reconsider her position on increased taxes and become a voice for sensible fiscal stewardship.
— Joel Veatch
Project hasn’t measured up
Last week’s article in The Beachcomber regarding the paving of Roseballen’s street prompts me to address my issues with Northwest Housing Development and Vashon HouseHold.
Once again the organizations are heralded as promoting affordable housing. Promote they do. However, their promotion tactics are at best misleading, at worst deceptive.
As a homeowner in Roseballen, I was told we’d likely complete the 10 homes in our phase in one year. As the project began and we lost our first supervisor, Northwest Housing sent us an interim supervisor. She told us there was no way these homes could be built in a year. Indeed, it took us three supervisors and 28 months to complete our phase.
We were also told that when we completed our homes, we would have $20,000 equity in them.
That equity was “sweat equity” for providing the physical work necessary to build the homes. It was not tied to the market. “Sweat” equity we provided, and “sweat” was indeed all we received. In the first year of occupancy, the $20,000 disappeared in initial closing costs, a $9,000 grant that must be repaid upon the sale of the homes and subsidy reclamation.
I hold Vashon HouseHold responsible for continuing the illusion of $20,000 equity promoted by Northwest Housing. As the project managers, it was their job to investigate Northwest Housing and USDA (the lending organization) before agreeing to partner with them in this project. They either did not fully understand the project or went along with the deception. In any case, trust in both organizations continues to diminish as other issues surface.
As the Sunflower promotion begins, I strongly advise anyone interested in it to contact the homeowners at Roseballen who will tell you what you are really getting into. You may want to reconsider.
— Sandy Blake
Debate shows how much we care about our teens
The last few months have provided some of the best Beachcomber reading in the 15 years I’ve lived on Vashon. I’ve had fun taking in all the varying views shared on the subject of teen/adult relations and “grind dancing.”
The spectrum of attitudes expressed represent a thinking community, and without fail there is a powerful underlying message. We care about our children. We want good things for them. The shape and content of those things is for each generation to work out.
Just imagine how boring our community would be if everybody thought exactly the same way. It’s the open dialogue and respectful disagreement which makes democracy worthwhile.
— Ellen Call
It could have been a community asset
It was with a heavy heart that I read on The Beachcomber Web site of K2’s decision to put its property back on the market. I feel this way not because I don’t agree that it has the right and even responsibility to try to sell its asset, but just because it’s a reminder of how a small group of jealous, confused and/or shortsighted citizens can torpedo a good idea. I put almost two years of my life and hundreds of hours into working with community groups to find a way to recycle this property into a community center. I watched as the K2 Commons team, a private venture that is still trying to put something together, also met with hostile, nasty opposition to their vision for a community resource. All of it from a tiny vocal group.
So often we really do seem to shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to community decision-making. There are many things that we have done right, but it seems to often be in spite of, instead of because of, our community process. Our successful businesses fortunately never have to pass some litmus test to build, remodel or change their business plan. Our most successful nonprofits do well with minimal interference from public opposition. So why did this plan cause so many wingnuts to come out of the closet? Fear of change mostly, I believe, and yet change happens constantly, and most folks don’t even seem to notice.
I know my comments may start another round of “he said, she said” and opinions about what should have happened or should not have happened. I guess I don’t really care anymore. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But it all makes me very sad. I hope something good comes to the K2 site. I hope my worst nightmares about that place never come true.
— Emma Amiad
Court decision a win for corporations
By a five-to-four vote on Jan. 21, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has enabled large corporations and big money interests to exert substantial control over the outcome of elections by means of unlimited spending for or against candidates at election time. Rather than deciding the two cases before it on narrow grounds, the Court issued a broad interpretation of free speech rights under the First Amendment, thereby reversing provisions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law, which limited “electioneering communications” by big money interests during a specified period before elections. Other restrictions dating back to 1907 were overturned as well. The potential for corruption of our system of government is overwhelming.
Pres. Barack Obama has called the decision “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and other powerful interests.”
In his dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens suggested that members of Congress might require corporations to allow shareholders to vote on how their money should be spent, or at least require them to disclose their electioneering expenditures to shareholders. For more information on this subject, Google “Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance” and click on the New York Times Web site. In addition to the article, you may also Google “New York Times Editorial: The Court’s Blow to Democracy.” This ruling constitutes the biggest threat to democracy I have seen in my lifetime. I think we need to flood our representatives with letters urging them to take action.
— Marilyn Van Devanter