Rick Anderson's piece on Y2K missed an opportunity for true community service ("Millennial Panic!" 1/7). By highlighting the sensationalistic end of possible responses, the article

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Letters

Be prepared

Rick Anderson's piece on Y2K missed an opportunity for true community service ("Millennial Panic!" 1/7). By highlighting the sensationalistic end of possible responses, the article overlooks the great good that a middle-of-the-road stance toward preparation could provide.

After all, the truth is that no one can know just what effects will happen. Neither the survivalists nor the reassuring officials can know—our world is just too interwoven and complex. And burying your head in the sand and building a bunker in Idaho are both responses that can be destructive to society as a whole. Those who refuse to prepare will suffer if there are even minor glitches, and those who hoard will build even more isolation and fear into our society, no matter what befalls us.

There are a number of things that would be a good idea for people to do, which also serve to cushion against possible disruptions. For instance, everybody in earthquake country should have extra food, water, flashlights, etc. on hand. Being friendly with neighbors protects against crime and just feels good. Riding a bike is good exercise and cuts down on pollution. You get the idea.

I don't really think we're going to see the collapse of civilization with Y2K—but there are positive, commonsense precautions that we could all easily undertake that would make each family and each neighborhood more resilient.

Helen Gabel

via e-mail

Get serious!

Why must you sensationalize and marginalize serious topics? Your article on Y2K ("Millennial Panic!" 1/7), even by its title, trivializes a potentially serious problem and makes it seem like it is a creation of the crazies, survivalists, and "far-out" new-agers. Why not do some serious reporting and mention the local Y2K community meetings being held or mention serious, informative, balanced Web sites such as Tom Atlee's Co-Intelligence Institute (http://www.co-intelligence.org/Y2K.html) or the Cassandra Project (http://cassandraproject.org). Gary North may say it's too late and nothing can be done, but a lot of other people say let's discuss it and figure out how working together we can support each other and get through it.

mark pomerantz

via e-mail

Open wide for Y2K

Despite my growing distaste for Geov Parrish's thoughtless bashing of essentially good people, his list of issues that the major press fails to address indicates his well-tuned sense of our inability to see the big picture.

I want to take exception, however, to one item in his 12/31 Impolitics column: the Y2K problem, which he calls a fraud. I've been working with this for several months, now—exploring its full dimension and trying to get the complex social threat of it across to others. It is much more than a simple technical problem, when one considers the growing likelihood that up to half of society's interlocking delivery systems are not going to be compliant by the deadline date. Life is going to change, and there is nothing we can do except be prepared for that.

I've discovered, along the way of trying to understand this thing, that the politically oriented mind simply can't seem to grasp its scope. I suppose it's because it doesn't fit any known category of social problem.

We are about to experience a whole new category, and it would be best to approach it with an open mind.

Irv Thomas

Seattle

Survival at sea

It was great to see the Weekly cover the involvement of the massive groundfish trawl fisheries in the unprecedented declines in Steller sea lions and other marine species in the North Pacific ("Steller Performance," 1/7). I'd like to clear up a few points:

1. The headline about "attacking" the trawl industry seemed mismatched to the more balanced report in the article. Although there is much that is uncertain in the North Pacific, it is undisputed that the precipitous slide of Stellers toward extinction has coincided with the growth of the trawl fisheries, that lack of available food is the leading explanation of the Stellers' endangered-species status, that the trawl fisheries catch the same fish that Stellers depend on, and that these fisheries are concentrated in the areas identified as critical for Stellers' feeding during the winter, the time of the year most difficult for the animals to survive. Rather than attacking trawlers, environmental groups are working to conserve Stellers and other declining resources of the North Pacific. We also hope to improve the long-term health of the fisheries.

2. The reasons for the Stellers' demise are not "either-or" between fisheries and nature. Instead, NMFS and other credible researchers have agreed that several factors likely are at work. Thus, even if nature is playing some role in the Stellers' declines, the sensible response is not to "leave the fishery alone," as the article stated. To the contrary, if nature is making food scarce for sea lions, that is all the more reason for humans to limit their catch of what food remains for these magnificent animals. Stellers have survived, and thrived, for several million years, so one must ask what has changed in the North Pacific to drive a roughly 90 percent decline in this species in the last 30 years. The only answer to that question is industrial trawling, which catches billions of pounds of the same fish that sea lions eat, from the same areas where sea lions eat.

Our concern is that fishery management decisions often threaten numerous creatures and are geared toward short-term exploitation rather than the long-term health of our oceans. We will continue to press for measures that will help assure the long-term survival of Steller sea lions and a healthy North Pacific.

David Younkman

executive director American Oceans Campaign

Light rail, heavy price

We who live in the Rainier Valley value it for its vitality and diversity. We are a neighborhood of rich and poor, immigrants and first-nation peoples, blue-collars and professionals. Among us are the greatest number of poor, the most elderly, the youngest, and the most disabled of the entire city.

Decades of dedicated struggle and hard work by Rainier Valley residents and business owners has brought the valley to its current level of economic and social stability—albeit a fragile one—that has been unknown for more than a generation. Now, Sound Transit's proposed light-rail system through the Rainier Valley may change all that. (See Quick & Dirty, "Where the Train Takes Us," 12/17; Impolitics, this issue.)

Sound Transit staff has recommended to the Sound Transit board that an at-grade/surface light-rail route be built along the entire length of Rainier Valley. This means that 20 hours a day, trains longer than a football field will travel through our neighborhood every four to five minutes. This means that 40 out of 50 streets crossing M.L. King Way will be blocked from east-west travel creating unimaginable traffic congestion and gridlock at the remaining 14 intersections and forcing traffic onto residential streets. This means increased noise levels that may well require "mitigation" of 6- to 8-foot-high "sound walls" along nearly 3 miles of M.L.K. Way. This means the unimaginable loss of many longtime family-owned businesses and homes.

Of the entire city of Seattle, the Rainier Valley neighborhood is being asked to shoulder the disproportionate share of light rail's adverse impacts:

Of a total of 198 businesses projected to be lost or directly impacted in the city of Seattle, 125 of these will be in Rainier Valley.

Of a total of 123 single-family homes to be lost of directly impacted, all will be in Rainier Valley.

Of a total of 26 multifamily units to be lost or impacted, 26 will be in Rainier Valley.

Of the 40 cross streets blocked in the entire city, 40 will be in Rainier Valley.

We who live and work here and know the valley best believe that the currently proposed light rail will severely damage, if not destroy, our hard-won economic and social stability. As Rainier Valley residents and business owners have learned what the currently proposed surface light rail could mean to us, our families, our children, neighbors, and business, we have come to realize that a tunneled light rail the entire length of Rainier Valley is the only way to minimize the devastating effects of a light-rail system on our neighborhood, while ensuring a fast, first-class system for everyone else.

In the name of fairness, I ask all concerned people to call key Sound Transit board members King County Executive Ron Sims, Mayor Paul Schell, County Council members Cynthia Sullivan, Greg Nickels, and Seattle City Council member Richard McIver today and urge them to support tunneled light rail throughout the entire length of Rainier Valley to the Boeing Access.

Angela Ford

rainier valley resident/Save our Valley board member

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