HELLO AGAIN, HILTON
As I picked up the recent Weekly and saw "Hilton's Hellholes" [March 12], I felt a sense of d骠 vu. I remembered a similar story in the UW Daily from 1987. What surprised me was that the subject of Erica Barnett's recent article was the same person, Eric Hilton. I had a friend renting from him back then, living in the same squalid conditions described in her article. In 1987, calls were made to the city and local media. My friend and I took the Daily writer on a tour of Hilton's properties. A report was aired on TV, and another newspaper article written. As I read, I shook my head. The testimonials were the same 16 years later. What amazed me was how Hilton managed to continue these tactics for all these years.
It was good to hear that the city had finally taken steps to remedy the situation. I recognize the need for affordable housing, but allowing Hilton and others like him to prey upon and take advantage of these people is not the answer.
FIRE CODE CRACKDOWN
I would like to see a push for regular fire inspections for the type of housing Erica Barnett highlights in her article ["Hilton's Hellholes," March 12]. It was my experience working at the Seattle Fire Department's Fire Marshal's Office for many years that a building that had deplorable living conditions invariably had fire code violations. I don't know if I was more aggressive, but as a fire code compliance inspector, I had a very high success rate when it came to compliance. I do know that a fire code citation is a criminal, not a civil, citation. My approach was very simple: left to compliance or right to the judge.
Dean E. Wingfield
I am writing to clarify that I continue to support federal funding of the monorail [Buzz, March 12].
There are two methods of attaining federal transportation funding. The first is to seek funding through the authorization and appropriations process. The second is to request funding for "high priority" projects. "High priority" funding is drawn from the Highway Trust Fund and is independent of the traditional authorization and appropriations process. Money for these requests is minimal for each member.
Seattle has several pressing transportation projects, some of which are much closer to completion than the monorail. For this reason, I am choosing to use those limited funds for near-complete projects that I believe will more quickly mitigate Seattle's transportation problems.
Nonetheless, I continue to support federal funding of the monorail and will push hard for federal appropriations.
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott
I've been reading Nina Shapiro's ongoing saga of the demise of KCTS with sadness, anger, and satisfaction ["S.O.S. at KCTS," March 12]. Sadness, because the region is in the process of losing what was a tremendous resource and platform for covering local and regional issues and culture. Anger, because the problems have been evident for years and the people entrusted with the reins of this public entity have failed to provide the leadership needed to preserve it. And satisfaction, because someone is finally digging deep enough into the dysfunction at KCTS to tell the story of the mess.
I worked at KCTS in the early '80s, when the station was a dynamic entity with leadership that pushed into new areas and drew a talented supporting cast of producers, technicians, and engineers. I again worked at KCTS in the early and mid-'90s, as the station began its long slide toward oblivion. This period was marked by endless attempts to go after the big project, to the neglect of the local audience and the core of talented people the station had recruited.
Of course, the landscape of broadcast TV has changed dramatically in the last decade, and running a successful public station is not easy. But, in that decade, KCTS squandered its two most valuable assets: the talent of its employees and its viewership.
Ultimately, the fault lies with the board of directors. It's a pity that only when these major financial problems erupt and KCTS is apparently in its death throes, management is called to account. The talent and morale drain at the station has been obvious for years. The erosion of the viewer base likewise. Why the board has not stepped in to address this and to remove Burnie Clark and recruit the kind of leadership that could reinvigorate the station is beyond my understanding.
GEOV'S COLUMN BOMBED
Whether or not his hatred of America is tied to self-hatred is irrelevant, Geov Parrish has finally come out and declared his desire that Seattle be on the receiving end of bombs ["Please Bomb Seattle," March 12]. The irony is that he may get his wish, although most likely from a suitcase nuke or dirty bomb or a full-sized nuke in the hold of a bin Laden-owned ship, triggered by a murderous "martyr," possibly bin Laden himself. The fact that Seattle is the city in the lower 48 that is closest to Asia should cause us to realize just how possible Parrish's flippant suggestion is. Apparently he's never heard of the law of unintended consequences.
Even more ironically, it is likely that the "anti-war" movement he supports, instead of making war with Iraq less likely, allowed Saddam Hussein to deceive himself into thinking that if he held out, the movement would come to his rescue.
I was elated when Parrish stated that he was moving to Phoenix, and hope it wasn't just more flippancy. Don't toy with my emotions, I've been hurt before.
R. Roy Blake
I loved Geov Parrish's letter to President Bush ["Please Bomb Seattle," March 12]. It's funny, ironic, and well-written. I especially appreciate the tactful way he unwinds the logic of war with a logic of his own that, as far as I'm concerned, is just as nonsensical as the impending war with Iraq. I just wish the latter was as delightful as his piece.
Rahul Krishna Gairola
ACT'S IDENTITY CRISIS
In his article about the failing theater, Roger Downey wonders why ACT should survive, but neither Downey nor ACT's plan even hints at an answer ["Balancing ACT," March 12]. It cannot be for the board to save face or to justify the effort of renovating a historical landmark. It cannot even be for the local artists who have contributed to ACT's success and relied on it for their livelihoods. There is only one reason that ACT should survive: for an audience. Unfortunately, the same audience that has not been filling the seats at Kreielsheimer Place is also absent from ACT's future plans.
This was not always the case. During my six years on the artistic staff of Jeff Steitzer, ACT was truly a community theater, a conduit for ongoing dialogue between a community of artists and our audiences, who continuously rewarded the theater's investment in them with generous donations and growing attendance.
The calculus of nonprofit theaters is pretty simple: An institution has a mission, an artistic director has a vision that flows from that mission, and the managing director develops the resources to support that vision. The key is that artistic vision must be embraced by an audience large enough and generous enough to support it. ACT had that vision and support, but squandered it when they chose to relocate to the Eagles Auditorium and traded an artistic vision for an architectural one.
As it struggles for survival, ACT must redefine what it is today. The list of plays proposed for the season only raises more questions: What is the artistic vision behind the plays, who is the audience that's going to fill a theater to see them, and why isn't anybody talking about them? Unless someone focuses on the audiencethe people who will truly be responsible for ACT's survivaltheir efforts will be for naught.
Steven E. Alter
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