Between closed libraries, closed community centers, and closed parks, I am beginning to wonder why I bother to live in the city at all.

MAKING FAMILY MEMORIES

Thanks for a superb story about the Batali family ["A Batali Family Christmas," Dec. 25]. It was quite timely as I prepared a Tuscan Christmas dinner for my 27-member family in an effort to show them exactly the quote you used from Mario, "The hours we spend dining don't count against our lives." Although my family didn't quite see the need for a 3.5-hour dinner, I think when they look back at Christmas 2002, they will at least have shared more stories and memories than any Christmas prior.

Larry Snyder Jr.

TIME FOR A TAX STRIKE

Thank You, Geov Parrish, for you recent article [Politics, "The List," Dec. 25]. It appears that it may be long past high time for a nationwide tax strike by all U.S. citizens that refuse to bow down to this latest batch of escapades by corporate-greed-fed powers that be.

Ricard MadGello

Bellevue

OPEN UP, SEATTLE

I completely agree with George Howland's observation that our apathy about services suspended at local libraries will result in further service reductions—and it's our own damn fault [All Politics Is Local, "Outrage Overdue," Dec. 25]. If we can't get off our butts long enough to make a phone call or e-mail the Mayor's office (mayors.office@seattle.gov), we deserve it.

This past summer many local community centers were closed for entire weekends—the only time families could enjoy a community asset as a family. In West Seattle, both the Southwest and the Delridge Community Centers were closed for Saturdays and Sundays the entire summer, while Hiawatha, in the more affluent part of West Seattle (closer to the mayor's house), remained open. During the winter, most are closed on Sundays, except Hiawatha, which is open seven days a week. Folks living in Delridge, Highland Park, and other neighborhoods in the southern portion of West Seattle are cut off from their "free" community benefits and are a complicated and lengthy bus ride away from the open community center—more than 45 minutes by bus thanks to Metro not knowing how to travel east-west.

It is my opinion that the mayor and the rest of our fine government are making SURE we feel the pain of our decision to rein in their ridiculous spending habits. Between closed libraries, closed community centers, and closed parks, I am beginning to wonder why I bother to live in the city at all. I certainly am not getting my money's worth!

To add insult to injury: The Mayor and our fine utilities have asked We The People to further conserve water in this season of little rainfall and minimal snowpack. And what should I see for the last two mornings? Sprinklers watering invasive, evil, evil ivy, planted along the bike path below the West Seattle bridge. In December. In the middle of a rain storm.

Wendy Hughes-Jelen

West Seattle

IF NOT RAIN, THEN . . .

Glad to hear someone finally talk about rain [Mossback, "About Rain," Dec. 25]. The few days it rained this fall, people around me still complained. As a Southern California native (you were probably expecting this), I'd like to respond to the unhelpful tangent you traversed regarding "you" Washingtonians, and "them."

First: How many of your readers do you think are Washington natives? I know I grew up surrounded by people from the Midwest and the East Coast.

Second: True, California exports the blue-sky culture. But Hollywood doesn't feed people what they don't eat. Which, sadly, for now is permanent paradise seen from a SUV.

Third: Though California—along with Phoenix, Albuquerque, Houston, Atlanta, the entire East Coast—has built a mighty car-oriented infrastructure, California is now leading the nation in response to global warming.

Fourth: If we are going to compare places, I'd like to add that in my five years in Eugene, Ore., I don't recall hearing a single complaint about rain. Really! I was surprised when I moved to Seattle eight years ago to hear everyone talk about how much rain there was as they rolled their eyes in annoyance or disgust. In Eugene we all got wonderfully soaking wet on our way to work, dried off while we were indoors, and then went home again in the rain. Lovely. And in California, at least people recognize how valuable rain is.

Anyway, I was glad you got back on track to talk about the real problem of our national (and global) culture. The belief that we should have everything perfect now is capitalism at its most sinister. I think I read somewhere that the devil offered such things to potentially wayward souls.

Here's my gross generalization for the day: The same people who bitch about a single raindrop are the ones who would build a golf course in the tropics. So, our job is to remind people of what creates a distinct place. And not just Seattle, Wash., or the Northwest, but also our planet. How rare and generous it is, and what a gentle environment we have, courtesy of our atmosphere and forests. The alternatives? The moon, Mars, Venus. Or, in a more likely vision, extreme weather as we have never seen, exacerbating the already murderous cycle of flooding, deforestation, and desertification.

Carol Shenk

Seattle

PACMED ALWAYS TROUBLED

Pacific Medical Center (PMC) has been plagued by conflicting goals and poor leadership since its inception ["PacMed Discharged," Dec. 18]. Envisioned by Sen. Warren Magnuson as a poor man's Virginia Mason built from a discarded Public Health Service hospital, PMC's Public Development Authority (PDA) board was loaded by Mayor Charles Royer, County Executive John Spellman, and other political appointees with little or no health care background.

PMC was charged with building an efficient health care system to serve both the region's community clinics and its suburban yuppies, military dependents, Native Americans, and merchant seamen, and with providing large but undefined levels of uncompensated care paid for by fee-for-service revenues from affluent, insured groups. PMC's base was 250,000-300,000 outpatient visits annually, the associated hospital admissions, and its $26 million legacy from the Feds.

PMC's medical staff was UW faculty physicians, often more invested in their academic duties than in seeing clinic patients.

Early PDA board meetings were nightmares of conflict, with management arguing for reasonable flexibility and the PDA's political appointees (including the Bob Kaplan quoted in your article) demanding impossible actions and strategies. Endless bickering and multiple hidden agendas made conflict resolution difficult and generated many stiff, unproductive board/staff retreats. Management consultants billed huge fees—including one fellow hired by the PDA to teach the new CEO (after Dick Tompkins, M.D., was forced out) how to be a CEO! And, yes, PMC's auditors were Arthur Andersen.

Then PMC management delegated the development of its Pacific Health HMO to the marketing department, which produced a series of tragicomic decisions that often failed the tests of operational realities.

Rather than investing $26 million wisely in growth areas, PMC, goaded by the Seattle mayor's office, blew millions of dollars on cosmetic improvements to its geographically isolated Beacon Hill campus, a decision which later forced committing even more capital to Beacon Hill (the $12 million bond issue) for seismic improvements.

Today, what could have been a unique regional legacy of a health care system oriented to public service and the provision of ready access to care by the poor has evaporated, leaving a pathetic PDA with a real estate mission and another rudderless group of physicians scrapping for a decent living. Sen. Magnuson, I'm so sorry!

R. Queisser

Mercer Island

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