Letters to the editor | May 25 edition

Islanders write in about bike safety, a recent commentary, and an upcoming levy.


Sharing the roads with kindness

One of the rites of spring around here is a letter to the editor on bikes and cars. I rise to continue this tradition.

Cars and bikes sharing our island roads is a harmonious situation most of the time. Drivers slow when passing bikes, move over in the lane as much as possible and into the other lane when there is no oncoming traffic. Bikers wear high visibility colors and ride on the fog line or on the paved shoulder where that exists. Friendly waves are often exchanged.

But some drivers are in a hurry and forget this courtesy. Passing a bike only to make a right turn just ahead makes no sense, nor does blowing past a cyclist in a truck with a right mirror sticking way out. You EV drivers can sneak up on a bike and need to be particularly aware that startled bikers may make odd maneuvers.

But some bike riders forget their part of the bargain too. Riding two abreast with traffic behind is annoyingly frequent, and not just with the overdressed off-island bike crowd. I like a spirited chat with my bike companions as much as anyone, but please be aware of holding up traffic. Our roads are awful and getting worse, but bikes can’t take the whole lane for long distances.

I believe we can coexist – cars, trucks, EVs, SUVs, electric bikes, acoustic bikes, motorbikes, and all contraptions on the road in between.

Let’s all be careful out there.

David Hattery


Recent commentary got facts wrong on Huck Finn

I was amused and appalled to read Alan Becker’s 12-paragraph description of Huckleberry Finn, produced by Drama Dock 39 years ago. His elaborate account of the boat scene sounded horrific, but fortunately, it’s completely inaccurate.

There was no “boat costume” whatsoever in the scene. In a minimalist style, the raft was simply painted on the set floor, and the rowboat was a piano bench on wheels, which rolled seamlessly into view. The stage was raised, and the space between the set and the audience served as the river. Two actors propelled the “boat” with their feet, one wielding imaginary oars and one carrying a shotgun prop. I’m sorry Alan didn’t take Cornelius’ advice to trust the director, because it was a delightful bit of staging, true to the book and very much in keeping with Mark Twain’s humor.

I wrote the adaptation of Huckleberry Finn and directed it. I’d been directing for 5 years, having studied directing with Lou Hetler, who taught at Cornish. Our terrific cast included Jamie Lopez as Huck Finn, the amazing Karin Brusletten as the Widow Douglas, James Granderson as Jim, and Jeff Basom as Pap, who terrified everyone with his delirium tremens performance.

Jamie and James did a magnificent job depicting the movement of the raft, coordinating their actions like dancers as they balanced and swayed on the set floor. Cast and crew members created theatre magic in this wonderful production, so the audience could be carried away down the Mississippi River. We played to full houses and received excellent reviews.

I regretfully re-staged the boat scene because of Alan’s distress about it seeming too “silly”. But Cornelius Lopez never said a word to me about it. Alan did a great job as the Duke, however, playing opposite David Kankel as the King. Delightful.

I salute Cornelius on his illustrious career, and I’m grateful to have known him through theatre instead of algebra. I wish every success to Alan with his current show, and I hope he has begun to trust directors.

Deb Pierce McCabe

Author, playwright, director, drama therapist


Better ideas

Listed below are more ways Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR) can improve its already excellent service level, without raising taxes.

More Financing: VIFR is preparing to renovate Station 55. The architect estimates the total cost could exceed $2.0 million. VIFR has $1.4 million in a facility reserve account. Why accumulate large reserves and pay cash for renovations, when large real estate transactions are commonly financed with bonds?

Redeploy: After the new firefighters graduate in July, there will be five firefighters on every shift. If VIFR does not have enough volunteers for Burton, why not station two of the new firefighters there. While a fire engine company normally has four firefighters, they do not have to be housed in the same building. By stationing two in Burton, the south end gets more coverage, with no additional expense to the tax payer.

VIFR has delivered superior service to Vashon for decades using a combination of volunteer and paid firefighters. The Chief and Assistant Chief always have been available to respond to calls. The VIFR Strategic Plan has the Chief and two Deputy Chiefs dedicated to administrative duties. There is no reason they cannot continue to respond to calls, as needed, while accomplishing their administrative duties.

Refurbish: Rural emergency vehicles are used less than urban vehicles, with less “wear and tear”. While some vehicles may be chronologically old, the chassis and many non-moving parts remain in good condition. That is why some rural Washington fire departments refurbish their vehicles, instead of replacing them, with considerable cost savings.

Timeout: The VIFR levy has grown from $2.3 million in 2017 to $5.4 million in 2023. However, total calls have remained somewhat constant. In July, the full-time staff will increase from 13 to 20. There is no need to add four more firefighters or increase the budget in 2024. VIFR should spend several years digesting the “new normal” and learn to live within its means, like the rest of the island does.

Vote “no” on VIFR levy lift.

Scott Harvey