I was a bit disappointed in James Bush's look at the first year of Mayor Paul Schell's administration ("Where's Paul?" 12/10). I wish he would have mentioned how the mayor has gone against the will of the citizens on two key issues: the Olympics and the monorail. Schell had gone against the will of the people and City Council by siding, along with Ron Sims, to try to continue the push to bring the 2012 Olympics to Seattle even though many citizens spoke out against it, and had better reasons for their opposition than its proponents.
As for the monorail, I was disgusted to hear Schell state on Channel 28 that the monorail initiative would probably not happen because private support isn't there, yet he can manage to drum up corporate support for an Olympic bid that a majority of residents oppose.
What happened to Seattle's idea-a-minute mayor? He sold out to corporate interests.
Just the facts
I gave up reading the Weekly more than eight years ago, because your reporters and editors didn't fact-check your stories and you continually confused fact and editorial opinion. My husband recently brought the paper home, and I thought I would give it another chance.
Your story "Stealth Nonprofit" (12/10), which characterizes the purchase of Security House by the Housing Resource Group (HRG) as a "conspiracy" that will lead to the gentrification of low-income housing, is absolutely outrageous. The HRG has created and preserved more low-income housing in the downtown area than any other nonprofit organization or government agency. The board of HRG is completely autonomous from the Downtown Seattle Association; the only connection is that some financial support comes from downtown businesses that are also members of DSA. HRG is in fact trying to preserve the housing in Security House for low-income people and has been encouraged to do so by the city of Seattle.
It would behoove your reporters and editors to get the facts before going to press with a story. You do a disservice to your readers and the community. Maybe I'll give the paper another try in 2006!
Board member Housing Resources Group
"Paranoia Strikes Deep" must be the new marketing theme of the Weakly, er . . . Weekly. Is Mark Worth really Oliver Stone? "Stealth Nonprofit," combined with the other articles written by him in the 12/10 issue, proved that you don't have to worry about getting the facts right when all you need is good ol' fashioned fabricated conspiracy. Too bad. If he had done even a little research he might have uncovered shocking, hard-to-believe stories such as: The Housing Resources Group has produced and preserved more than 2,000 units of affordable housing valued at $100 million plus during the past 19 years—all primarily in greater downtown Seattle—and all developed during a time of dramatic decreases in government funding. But congratulations anyway on this masterpiece of Worthless friction, er . . . fiction.
Your 12/3 article "SHA-na-na" contained several inaccuracies:
1. The East African community has not taken issue with the Seattle Housing Authority about the wisdom of redeveloping Holly Park. In fact, Efrem Seyoum, whom you and John Fox used to substantiate your claims, was on the stage at the grand opening of NewHolly the same day as Mr. Fox's news conference, celebrating the fact that his will be among the very first families to move into NewHolly. Mr. Fox's efforts to create conflict led HUD Secretary's Rep. Bab Santos to call for an end to the attempts to divide people. He encouraged people instead to focus on the cooperative work of Seattle's ethnic communities, which have worked in solidarity for decades to achieve common goals.
2. Employment issues raised by Mr. Seyoum do not relate to SHA. SHA has never been his employer. In fact, while you state that a US Department of Justice employee attended Mr. Fox's event, you failed to note (although you had the documents) that the Seattle Office for Civil Rights has dismissed charges raised in your article, saying that SHA had no jurisdiction over the matter, and therefore could not have had a role. A second charge was dropped by the plaintiffs, noting that SHA had no role and should not have been named.
3. While the African and African-American populations of Holly Park make up approximately 17 percent of the households in Holly Park, 40 percent of the job placements have gone to these populations. African and African-American residents have constituted at least half of the enrollees in training.
4. SHA has met every single commitment in its agreement with the city of Seattle to replace one-for-one every dilapidated unit removed from Holly Park—we are doing so not by creating another ghetto of poverty, but by scattering attractive, low-income housing throughout the city in partnership with other nonprofit low-income housing providers.
5. SHA is thoroughly audited by HUD on a regular schedule, and each time we have demonstrated that the federal funds we receive are used fully in accordance with what was intended. Additionally, our most recent audit by the state of Washington came back with no findings and no recommendations for improvement, and we just received a national Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Financial Officers Association.
6. SHA does not run the public housing resident councils, nor do we run their elections. We monitor their elections for compliance with their own bylaws and with HUD's provisions. If corrections are necessary, the residents have recourse in accordance with HUD's rules governing resident councils.
7. The assignment of space to the East African Subcouncil is determined by the Holly Park Community Council, not SHA.
Contrary to your report, SHA has had a stellar year. We became the largest housing authority in the nation to receive a perfect score in HUD's performance evaluation; we were one of 24 housing authorities in the nation selected to participate in the Moving to Work Demonstration Project—a program designed to encourage innovation in low-income housing; we competed for and won a $17 million HUD grant to redevelop Roxbury Village and Roxbury House in West Seattle; with the input, ideas, and guidance of residents, we created a long-term financial plan for the Seattle Senior Housing Program to preserve the program for years to come; and on November 18 we opened the first beautiful units of New-Holly, to the cheers of more than 500 people in attendance, and to the delight of the low-income families who will be moving in, including Efrem Seyoum's family.
Executive Director, SHA
Perhaps Downtown Source should be flattered by Mark Worth's suggestion that we have the power to marginalize someone like Nick Licata (Media Culpa, "Isolating Licata," 12/10). But we would just be happy if he read the entire story and didn't comment on headlines alone.
Our story made no suggestion that Licata is some kind of "wacko" (Worth's word) whom council members avoid like the plague. In fact, all the things he praises Licata for in the column were covered in our story: Licata was the council's most vocal opponent of the 2012 Olympics and "paved the way for other surveys and a flood of constituent e-mails" opposing the summer games; his very public scolding of the Pike Place Market PDA for proposing changes to the Hildt agreement; and his opposition to doing business with Burma.
The point of the story was that Licata is more willing than his fellow council members to go out on a limb and take very public stances in a city that is used to polite political discussions. Worth seems to feel that this assessment has somehow eroded Licata's power, and yet he offers no evidence to back up that claim, no proof that Licata is suddenly "less effective."
In fact, considering that Licata describes himself as a community activist, perhaps Worth does him harm by suggesting Licata is "as consensus-minded as anyone on the City Council."
Editor, Downtown Source
To James Bush and Rick Anderson:
Bravo. Just read through the 12/10 Seattle Weekly.
Bush, your piece on the canonization of John Stanford by the fawning local media was superb.
Anderson, a nice postmortem on the brutal murder of a great hometown news department.
Guys, both of your pieces should be required reading for every J-school under-grad now studying over at the U-Dub. Ya done good.
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