Too-rosy power picture
The article by James Bush about the electricity crisis ["What power crisis?" 2/1] correctly identified that the situation may help encourage energy conservation for our region. In the long run, some renewable technologies may also be developed, which would do us all some good. Unfortunately, the writer paints a far too rosy picture for their future. Washington is not California. Our public utilities have become the laughingstock of the region, and our state's private utilities are the ones looking good.
Some items in the article in need of clarification:
Seattle City Light deserves huge kudos for maintaining its conservation programs over the years. But if our elected officials had so much "foresight," why exactly is City Light $340,000,000 in debt? The public utilities are in this situation because they failed to act fast enough at the first signs of trouble. Until a few months ago, they avoided contracts for long-term (BPA) power like the plague, and City Light even sold off some supply they had. Instead, the public utilities chose to play the stock market of energy, by buying too much power on the spot market.
The private utilities in our state are sitting pretty. PSE has played conservatively with long-term electricity contracts and is largely insulated from the crisis. Spokane's private utility, Avista, recorded massive profits last week.
If, as stated, "The main issue here is to reduce peak load," why has City Light virtually ignored the opportunity to raise its peak load (demand) rates, which are a critical component of medium and large business rates? Billing appropriately for demand would be both fair and a tremendous short-term catalyst for conservation.
Seattle City Light is horribly positioned to provide customer services such as time-of-use billing, particularly to residential customers. Meanwhile, PSE has already begun to provide many of its residential customers with time-of-use information, thereby educating its customers effectively about power costs and leading to the near-term possibility to bill according to time-of-use.
Keeping BPA power in the Northwest is far from a sure thing. We can all cross our fingers and sit around hoping our entirely Republican-controlled federal government will keep their hands off BPA.
The situation for the public utilities could get much, much worse as California moves into their high-use summer season, and as City Light continues to bring on tremendous amounts of new commercial load, largely absorbed by residential rate increases.
Public power in Washington state once had a purpose and was something to be proud of. We had low rates, cool services like inexpensive appliance repair, and good, thoughtful planning. In the last six months, the benefits of public power in our region have all but disappeared.
Blame the immigrant hordes
The Real Reason for Energy Shortages [see "What power crisis?" 2/1]: Throughout the 1980s and '90s, the United States binged on immigration both legal and illegal at some of the highest rates in our nation's history. This influx of mainly Third Worlders made Democrat politicians feel good because these people vote mainly for them. It made business leaders feel good because it gave them eager workers and lowered wages. And it made all of us feel warm and fuzzy inside, because we were taught all our lives to believe in the melting pot myth.
Well, surprise, surprise, all these people wanted to live like you and me with electric appliances, computers, TV sets, and cars to commute back and forth to work. Now we don't have enough power to go around. Without these immigrant hordes our nation's population would have remained stable and we wouldn't be in the fix we are today. Until we face reality on these issues, all fixes for our problems will be futile or at best only temporary.
"Lorries" is a cute word
Regarding your question "What's a tram?" [4th & James, 2/1]: Growing up in my birthplace, Glasgow, Scotland, trams were of course those public transit rail machines that operated at grade usually in the center of the available right-of-way traveling at speeds comparable to the other machines, cars, lorries, and buses, with which they shared the road. Double-deckers also.
Mmmmmhhh! Sounds suspiciously like the light rail that'll be built down my end of the city. Or that fine little tram down on the waterfront. If it's going to move folks, sounds like a good idea to me. All it takes are time and a lot of tax dollars. A lot of $.
Of course the tram lines in Glasgow were ripped out a long time ago. And their traffic sucks just like ours.
So stay not a regular reader
I am not a regular reader of the Seattle Weekly—but I was sent an article of interest which appeared in your most recent issue titled "Coin toss" [2/1] written by Rick Anderson which I felt compelled to respond to. I am neither a supporter of Mr. Craig Rhyne nor do I condone the actions which led to the closure of his business and his criminal conviction. However, the article was written is such a way that I'm prompted to ask if your Paper requires your journalists to at least have a GED? I don't believe I have ever read a more poorly written, bias [sic], and un-researched article in my life. "The rakish, one-legged former king of . . . precious metals"? Anderson's words are insulting at best. Further, anyone who knows anything about the Rhyne case knows there aren't any secret bank accounts overseas. To even suggest otherwise does nothing but give false hope to the good people who lost their gold and silver holdings. How does such irresponsible journalism get printed?
TODD L. IMHOF
Its not terribly surprising to me that the day after Amazon.com laid off 1,300 employees [see "Aging Amazon," this issue], WashTech comes out to question the intention of the cuts. Is it to squash the union efforts of customer service workers? No, it's not. It's about running a business. It's about having the foresight to realize that in today's economic climate, you have to learn to do more with less. And reducing costs is part of reaching profitability. Isn't that what you workers/shareholders want?
I heard some people were devastated that what they "built" they are no longer a part of. Hate to bring you down to earth, but answering angry phone calls didn't build anything. And yes, you are expendable. Why? Because if need be, Bezos can hire 500 hicks in Kentucky to pick up phones at half the cost—unionized or not.
The truth of the matter is that many Amazon workers (and others in the Seattle area) don't really appreciate the jobs they have. WashTech thought they were being unfairly treated and shorted. Well, you got what you wanted. Now you're just like so many others in the high-tech industry—jobless.
I get some of the criticism in Roger Downey's TV review on the PBS Jazz series that recently wrapped up ["It's alive!" 2/1]. The third Ken Burns project did watch like a funereal procession of duly noted history. I could've done with less still black and whites and more jazz samples, more live jazz performances caught in the still of round midnight. So could my husband, Eddie, who is a working jazz musician and watched with me, alternately pleased to see familiar faces of his heroes and some friends, alternately nodding off during the more historical lecture parts.
But what did Downey want instead? Just as he never got the clear sense of jazz in Jazz, I never got the clear sense of what he would've preferred. Critics—armchair and professional—revert to this all the time, poke holes in a creation, but leave out the solutions. Hell, give me a hint.
What the hell has Roger Downey done? As far as I can tell, he's written a scathing review of a series that did exactly as it intended, reached people beyond aficionado boundaries and maybe recruited a couple of additional jazz fans. But, to read Downey, this is akin to selling out to media conglomerates living off the dead. Would he rather contain jazz as an unknown harbinger of a dwindling territorially arrogant clique?
Or maybe a sequel to the series is in order, where more is devoted to today's jazz wonders? Hey, I don't mind that. Anything to spread the gospel of jazz around. THAT'S the coda, after all, as far as I'm concerned.
CAROL BANKS WEBER
The fish is good, though
As an ex-Texan, I have come to the conclusion that people in the Northwest, while having excellent taste in food, wouldn't know good Mexican food if it were brought to them at the office.
While Tia Lou's ["Chili nights," 2/1] does serve some fine food, it is not anything other than "Mexican style," lacking the authentic flavors and spices found in Mexico. The fact that the Rick Hansen is head chef (he came from an Italian restaurant fercryinoutloud!) really says it all. Do yourself a favor. Get on a plane and fly down to Mexico (or Texas, or Albuquerque, or even LA for that matter), find a bodega with a grill in the back, sit down at the counter, and have some REAL Mexican food.
P.S. You Northwesterners don't know shit from shinola about Cajun food either. The fish is good though.
Letter o' the week
Your "energy" piece ["Power trip," 2/1] and the Sound Transit "out of control" piece ["Who'll stop the train?" 1/25] were GREAT . . . keep the pressure on the "govt clown squad" and the "take from the needy for the GREEDY corporate interests"!! please!!
The average citizen is being "spunked" from all sides, EXPOSE IT!!!!!!
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