Geov Parrish's article ["Everyone's Streets," Jan. 17] highlights a problem that even so-called Constitution-loving conservatives should be up in arms about. Why are our public streets the domain of the moderate and conformist? I have never been a protester, or one who publicly attempts to rock the boat, but I am very thankful that those people exist—if only to offer up alternatives to conventional thought and help elevate the collective consciousness of those fortunate enough to regard these acts of selfless patriotism. Our government is in place to hear, and sometimes even change in response to, the opinions of the people. Suppressing these voices is contrary to the very idea behind a free and open society. The Seattle police have been able to set themselves not only above the law but apart from their neighbors by helping to create an environment where their voices will be silenced in a similarly brutal fashion should their opinions ever swing away from the popular or their nightstick-wielding arms ever weaken.
[Re: News Clips, "Railroaded," Jan. 17]: Consider the current cost estimate for monorail—about $100 million per mile. Consider Sound Transit's projected cost for light rail—about $100 million per mile.
Now consider the characteristics of light rail in cities where it is successful—say Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake, and Denver. Light rail in those cities runs in the downtown area on the streets, right in the face of those with cars—not below in a tunnel like ST's proposal here and not above like the monorail. The lines [for the most part] radiate out of the city heart ON THE SURFACE and into the suburbs. Portland actually has a branch line to its airport. The average cost of these lines is from $25 million to $50 million per mile.
Transit should not be hidden—either in the air or underground. It should be on the surface, where it can been seen and is a part of the conscious mind. Speed is not the only question when taking transit— accessibility, comfort, convenience, and safety are more important.
I agree with the critics of Sound Transit that it is too little for far too much. I disagree that limited local projects like the monorail are any kind of solution. I firmly believe that a regional (west of the Cascades) integrated approach using every available transit solution is needed. The only way to do that is to create a "super agency" with directly elected officials who will provide for the fast and efficient movement of people and goods. Separate entities like highway departments, ferry systems, bus lines, etc., should be in one single agency with a regional, not local, viewpoint.
We are 20 years behind other regions of the U.S. in providing for good non- automotive transportation. It is hurting us and will continue to hurt the region (Boeing's president just said so—it must be true).
I must complain about the work of your new-to-Seattle transportation reporter, Erica C. Barnett, who hasn't been here long enough, or done enough research, to understand Seattle transit. Taking a break from carping about Metro buses' statistical incident rate and "smell" (welcome to city living; try visiting New York in August), Barnett gives a shoddy half-analysis of the contrast between "light" rail and monorail [News Clips, "Railroaded," Jan. 17]. "No one in their right mind will argue that any mass transit system will relieve congestion," writes Barnett. This is the kind of low-expectation mongering that allows Sound Transit to get away with delivering so little for so much.
The real question, Barnett surmises, is "How fast do buses go in rush-hour traffic?" Damn slow, is the answer, as it will be for light rail: Both travel on the surface and are obstructed by the rest of us in gridlock. This is why monorail can be the first step to a transit system that will cover long distances fast and be convenient (and pleasant) enough to get people out of their cars. It won't do it alone, though. Buses are still the best solution for local neighborhood trips.
The most curious conventional wisdom Barnett would do well to question is our new mayor's support for "light rail for the region and monorail in the city." Monorail makes sense as a regional system, but there will never be the money to get Sound Transit to Northgate, not to mention across the lake.
Ms. Barnett, make yourself at home. Please go back and take a closer look at the dance Sound Transit officials have been doing for the last several years and the Elevated Transit Company's public-driven process, which is making crucial decisions right now.
I read your article about the UW hospital ["Medical Problems," Jan. 10] and thought I'd add my two bits. The last time I had blood drawn there, the lab tech had blood on her lab coat. You'd think they could put on a clean coat. I kept staring at that, wondering just how clean things were there. What if the last person to have blood drawn had AIDS? I'm also appalled sometimes to go into exam rooms and see wads of (used) cotton wool and gauze that someone threw toward a waste bin, missed, and left lying on the floor for the next patient to see.
I felt compelled to contact you [Laura Learmonth] with sincere thanks for your kind words toward us in preview of [our] Sit & Spin show [Music Calendar, Jan. 17]. In a music scene [where it] has become increasingly harder for new bands to get themselves heard, it is comforting to know that there are still local journalists out there making the rounds and paying attention. Seattle is thriving with new talent, all hard at work and trying to bring their musical passion to the people. I'm sure that I speak for many of us when I compliment [you] on your positive and informative writing. Thank you, and keep up the good work!
Let me thank you from the bottom of my worrisome heart for Mr. Kurt B. Reighley's clarity and potent voice. In one of those awkward moments of intuitive dissonance, I stumbled across his brutally clear self-examination and I was moved [Two Ears & a Tale, "See Also: the Woodentops," Jan. 10]. I also find myself only able to think about the application of conviction in any creative endeavor. I have nothing concrete to show for all the shards. Nonchalance is grace, after all. . . .
P.S. What does that fancy book [The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll] say about Nico? I think Iggy Pop nailed it when he said she will be considered one of the most seminal artists of the '70s. I remember seeing a few Woodentops videos on 120 Minutes when Dave Kendall was still a terrifying enigma. I cite the day he came out of the dark as the beginning of the end. . . .
In flames I run,
WHO ASKED FOR IT?
Last week's article "Tax Cuts Now!" erroneously stated that the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce commissioned a report through the Washington Research Council calling for reforms to the state's tax system. In fact, the report was commissioned by the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County. Seattle Weekly regrets the error.
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