The people's monikers

Move over, Safeco. The envelopes have been opened and the pigeons debanded, and we've tallied all the proposed truthful names for a certain overpriced boondoggle of a stadium that we're building to keep a certain (briefly) celebrated baseball team in town. The grand prize awaits, one especially suited to this year of the World Cup: 1999 season tickets for two to the Seattle pro sports team that a) wins division titles again and again, b) never asks for public subsidies, c) was the first to play in the Kingdome, and d) is happy to play in good ol' Memorial Stadium without selling the rights to change the name to, say, Blakely Bleachers. We're talking, of course, about the Seattle Sounders—long may they thrill us after the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sonics become utterly unaffordable or insufferable.

But speaking of the Mariners, here are some readers' ideas for naming their new half-billion-dollar home:

Mark Pessl suggests The Emerald Diamond, for civic consistency.

Richard Andresen proposes an anagram of Safeco: Feasco Field.

Tim Muir wishes Costco would buy the rights to the Costco Overrun Stadium.

Dan Merkle offers ingenious names, and even more ingenious meanings:

Ellis Island, "the large, publicly funded transfer station for politically naive inductees to Seattle hardball politics [who] consistent with US immigration policies... must demonstrate significant financial resources to play this game."

Seattle Screw, "the offspring of the great Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew." But "great lineage" (John Ellis) and "seasoned bookies" (Rice, Locke, and so on) can't save this colt from stumbling under "the excess weight of its jockey (taxpayer debt)," breaking a leg, and getting shot and buried in the infield.

Fantasy Unlimited Stadium, in "the belief that a new stadium is necessary to maintain and improve Seattle, to the detriment of critical needs.... Jock-strap-only uniforms" will boost attendance.

Overlake Christian Stadium. To cover overruns, rent it "to the church during the off season." Reverend Bob could "instruct the batboys as to proper etiquette in the locker room."

Scott Johnston proposes 49 Percenter Field, in honor of the share of voters who supported it; 89 Percent Park, for the share of the project that is publicly funded. "Since the Mariners are only paying for the other 11 percent, Safeco could perhaps buy the 's' in Taxpayers Field."

Recall some earlier entries. From Curt Firestone: SoDo Field, Mariners Stadium, Evergreen Field, and Seattle's Diamond. From the fertile mind of Doug Barnett: Fiasco Ballpark, Shit Happens Field, Big Con Field, Corruption Corridor, Blackmail Ballpark, White Elephant Field, Fascist Follies, and Ellis False Tears Dream Factory. And from Jim Smith, Bite of Seattle II.

Though he's disqualified from the prize, our own Mark Worth proposes enough names for the whole AL West Division:

Freeloader Field

Yes-Man Yards

Payola Park

Handout Hangar

Boondoggle Ballpark

Make-Me-Sick Stadium

The Polo(shirt) Grounds

And the winner of the Sounders tickets is Richard Andresen for Feasco Field. Runner-up prizes—Seattle Monopoly games—to Doug Barnett for Fiasco Ballpark, and Curt Firestone for the cozy SoDo Field. If they'll call it that, we'll hold off on the wise-ass names.

Multiple sensitivities

Ordinarily, commemorative proclamations like, say, National Motherhood Day and Washington Apple Pie Week are as controversial as ribbon cutting and baby kissing. But Gov. Gary Locke stepped into an exception three weeks ago when he proclaimed the week of July 13­17 Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Week—and then rescinded his proclamation and re-proclaimed it in sanitized form a week later.

In its first version, it was a proclamation dearly appreciated by chemical-sensitivity activists, who have fought long and fruitlessly to get what ails them recognized as an environmental illness by medical and workers'-comp authorities. More than 100 activists had written urging that Locke match Connecticut's proclamation of a chemical-sensitivities week in May. Sure enough, Locke's original proclamation, issued on June 30, gave the MCS advocates just the validation they craved. It began by declaring flat out that "MCS is a chronic condition with no known cure" occurring "as a result of a single massive exposure or repeated low level exposures to toxic chemicals and other irritants in the environment." It listed the federal agencies that recognize MCS, and the symptoms, and social and economic burdens suffered by the afflicted. And, it declared most provocatively, "the health of the general population is at risk from chemical exposures that can lead to illnesses that may be preventable through reduction or avoidance of chemicals in the air, water, and food."

That groundbreaking proclamation lasted for a week. Then the governor's general counsel, Everett Billingslea, announced "a change" in the wording. Many changes, in fact. In the new, diluted, and rather garbled version, multiple chemical sensitivity doesn't necessarily exist; folks merely "report symptoms that have come to be known" as MCS. There is "no common agreement among medical providers as to the diagnosis." And "a concern exists" that chemical exposures may threaten the general health, but "more research and understanding into the causes of MCS is needed."

Billingslea noted the "medical and legal" controversy over MCS, possible litigation, and "inaccurate or unsettled" statements in the original proclamation as reasons to scrap it. This raised red flags among the MCS sufferers. They suspected the Washington State Medical Association, which refuses to recognize MCS, or the state Department of Labor and Industries, which regularly rejects MCS disability claims, of pressing the guv's office to change its tune.

Not directly, according to Locke spokesperson Chris Thompson. He says the original wording reflected an innocent oversight on the part of the staffer who handles such proclamations—not surprising when you consider that the office issues "500 to 600 proclamations a year" and had more than 2,000 proposed last year. The staffer checked the proposed wording with the toxicologist who oversees such matters at the state Health Department. Thompson says the toxicologist gave it the green light, so the proclamation went out.

Then, says Thompson, an "unrelated project" turned up information on the medical association's denial of the existence of multiple chemical sensitivity. "The Attorney General's office had concerns about that language," he says. No wonder: MCS claimants would doubtless use it to buttress their appeals for workers' comp. The proclamation was withdrawn and the new, neutered version hastily substituted.

"This rescinding illustrates the kind of discrimination we face," laments MCS activist Karen McDonnell, who lobbied for the proclamation. "If this illness didn't affect profits, compensation, and liability, we wouldn't be an illness without recognition."

Thompson says this is the first proclamation he knows of that's required such reconsideration. Doubtless Motherhood Day and Apple Pie Week will get closer scrutiny in the future.

 
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