Wheel of Fortune coming to Seattle to film a few shows, I admit, is not breaking news, but this article reads like a sleazy love novel.

LOGGING FLOGGING

In his [Aug. 15] letter, Bruce Mackey claims the Washington Environmental Council did not raise concerns before challenging the state's extension of its forestry plan [see "Darth Doug," Aug. 1]. As a senior official at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), he must know that less than two weeks before extending this plan, his department announced: "There is no comment period for these actions." This was hardly an invitation to dialogue.

But the heart of the matter is not process, it's substance. Is DNR managing our state forests sustainably—in a way that minimizes harm to our land and water? They are not. The state fails to address environmental impacts that come from multiple clearcuts, over time, in the same watershed. Our lawsuit aims to correct this.

We are not opposed to logging in most state-owned forests. But we want it done in a sustainable way that protects the environment and benefits all our citizens.

Joan Crooks

Executive Director

Washington Environmental Council

VILLANO IS DELUSIONAL

The story on Vanna White by Matt Villano ["White Night," Aug. 15] was an insult to journalism. I picked up your paper because I was interested in the city I live in. Wheel of Fortune coming to Seattle to film a few shows, I admit, is not breaking news, but this article reads like a sleazy love novel. Maybe that's what you were going for, but I fail to see the journalistic merit in Vanna White's bathrobe and perfect toes. I understand your paper advertises adult content, but I would still be more comfortable reading this article in Penthouse. I was hoping to read about an interesting woman; instead I read the sexual fantasies of a delusional young journalist. I admit Villano was somehow able to squeeze a few interesting facts about Vanna in between ramblings of how she looked in Playboy. Is this the kind of story your paper always runs? Does Matt Villano have a special "Dream" column? Because to add insult to injury he ended the article alluding to a day he spent with a dreamy women's basketball player.

Christie Ryba

via e-mail

STOESZ IS STUPID

If David Stoesz is unable to conceive "the greater whole" after seeing [artist] Jim Woodring's work ["Control Creep," Aug. 15], perhaps it is due to a deficit in Mr. Stoesz's abilities to extrapolate and interpret from groups that contain three or more items.

If Mr. Stoesz is uncomfortable dwelling with childhood feelings and prefers something "of greater substance" that is crafted with more "conscious artistic choice," how about a fine collectible dinner plate with a snowy, Christmasy covered bridge?

In this case, there is no room for the "play of the viewer's own imagination," because Mr. Stoesz is seriously devoid of this attribute.

Puleez! Get a reviewer with a brain and some taste!

Steve Bouchard

via e-mail

LAWYER SPEAK

Thank you for covering the events at the Peace and Justice Alliance ["Peace Out," Aug. 8]. Both my client [former staff organizer] Fred Miller and I see the organization as one that is vital and more necessary than ever.

One thing we must clarify is that Fred's primary goal is not to recover money but to insure that the organization can be made healthy again. In the letter we sent to the board in July, we stressed that Fred's hope was to meet with the board in mediation to discuss how best to preserve this organization's health in ways that could be agreeable to all parties. Fred has so far refrained from legal action for claims for either the unpaid wages or the thousands of dollars he has loaned, because such conflict would have a negative effect on the organization.

It remains our hope that this matter may be solved by all parties meeting in this manner. This would best be in keeping with the values of the organization.

Paul Richmond

Attorney for Fred Miller

BRAIN FREEZE

I want to thank Erica Barnett for her article "The Hiring Freeze That Wasn't" [Aug. 8] highlighting King County's very real budgetary problems. Unfortunately, Ms. Barnett's confused review of the hiring data and her lack of knowledge of how government operates resulted in misconceptions that must be clarified.

Our Current Expense budget of $500 million dollars is only about 17 percent of the total county's budget. It funds mandatory services like law, safety, and justice services, some public health, general government services like records, elections, and licensing, and nonmandatory services, like parks, and health and human services. This fund that has been crippled by reduced revenue, limited to 1 percent annual growth by the voters, faces a $50 million shortfall, which is why some of these services must be reduced. (The remaining 83 percent of the county's $3 billion budget funds transit, sewers, roads, and solid waste and is in good financial shape, but it is NOT available by law to help fund Current Expense services.)

In November 2000, I imposed a hiring freeze-but not, as Ms. Barnett states, over "the entire county." As she was told, I imposed a freeze over executive agencies only. That does not include separately elected agencies, like the sheriff, assessor, prosecuting attorney, County Council, or courts. Yet they are taking cuts, too.

I exempted certain classifications of employees from this freeze because their public health- or safety-related work is essential. Removing those hired by separately elected agencies, non-Current Expense hires (like bus drivers), and exempt employee classifications, 264 employees were hired over two years—for an average of 11 employees hired a month in the Current Expense Fund. This is a far cry from the 86 a month Ms. Barnett claims.

We do give first consideration to recently laid-off employees. Why hire new, untrained individuals into essential positions that are vacant when we have a pool of former employees who are familiar with county processes and practices? We will not fill positions unless they are critical, and I will attempt to place laid-off county employees in remaining essential vacant positions.

Ms. Barnett's article correctly sees "no end in sight" to this financial crisis. But our hiring freeze and policies are working. Yet what she missed is the real story of King County government. That is the story of how its remaining employees, with fewer resources, continue to provide outstanding service to more people than ever before through their innovation, commitment, and dedication.

Ron Sims

King County Executive

DON'T SLAM BAM

I have been keeping tabs on the Bellevue Art Museum since it reopened. Patience, my critic friend, patience ["When Art's Not Enough," Aug. 8]. I have visited several times, and yes, I have been disappointed, but they are doing something different. BAM is really an art center, not a museum (a mistake on their part), and the school is a fantastic feature.

Art presented within the "establishment" typically reinforces set ideas. A 26-year-old curator is more likely to take risks, breaking these structures. I would gladly visit an art center that is taking risks over a tired old museum feeding critic's expectations. Look at the Seattle Art Museum. It puts on safe shows, and you go shoulder to shoulder with a hundred people who shuffle by the art with glazed-over eyes.

It's great that BAM is recognizing this 15-second trend in their audience and doing something about it. If you can intrigue even the most art-illiterate person and change their mind, you can keep them coming back. The more people you get excited about art, the better. So not everyone has a deeper understanding or is buzzing with cranial provokement; rest easy in your superior intelligence and expert ability to understand art.

Liza Keckler

via e-mail

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