NO MORE WEST DENIAL
I want to offer a large thank you to Merilee D. Karr for her excellent article, "Killer Mosquitoes" [June 4]. I sent the article to my apartment owner with a letter requesting that he get back to me on how he will be dealing with the pond (standing water) in our garden area. Merilee's article gave not just the reason to be proactive but also the contact phone numbers for further information and assistance. This is the kind of article that I find so positivenot just the fear factor for ratings, but the facts and contacts, in order to take action.
As a public educator, I'm glad when local media become allies in helping to educate the public about important issues such as West Nile virus. I'm torn and disappointed, however, when the stories are presented with unnecessary sensationalism especially by a free weekly paper that shouldn't have to resort to headlines such as "Killer Mosquitoes" [June 4] in order to sell papers.
Although people need to be informed of the risks of West Nile virus, we should also be careful in contributing to a public health scare. While the arrival of the virus in the Northwest is sure to grab headlines, it is important that the media participate in the effort to place the virus in a context relative to other everyday risk factorsand present the public with good, science-based information and practical, effective methods to minimize the risk of exposure to humans and domesticated animals.
West Nile virus, unlike SARS, does not spread from person to person. A person is far more likely to be killed by cigarette smoking or a motor vehicle accident or influenza than by West Nile virus. Local agencies are structuring their response (including use of insecticides and monitoring of storm water areas) accordingly.
City of Springfield Environmental Services
Knute Berger has come to the conclusion that libertarians and other fans of extremely limited government came to a long time agothat government should be restricted to things like defending the country, maintaining a system of justice, and delivering the mail [Mossback, "Boeing 7$7," June 4]. Berger tacitly makes a brilliant case for extremely limited government, something I am not sure he set out to do.
The current efforts by Gov. Locke, Sen. Cantwell, and County Executives Sims and Drewel to keep Boeing in the area showcase many, many horrible aspects of some in government: elected officials deciding which company or industry or group of people should thrive at the expense of many others; elected officials exploiting the fears and greed of many people; elected officials groveling for taxes. . . .
Berger makes many good arguments against the power of elected officials, but then he does a 180-degree spin and suggests that they should have more power by suggesting that the power of bureaucrats and elected officials should be institutionalized by nationalizing the company, and perhaps the industry. That is like suggesting that the best way to put out a fire is to add more propellant. The best way to wrest thuglike control from elected officials, no matter if Democan or Repubilcrat, is to articulate the message that libertarians have been singing for years: governments of all jurisdictions severely limited by the wisdom found in the U.S. Constitution.
Boeing's too important to leave in private hands [Mossback, "Boeing 7$7," June 4]. Most thinking people know that you can't sell airplanes if workers can't afford to buy tickets to fly in them. But Boeing's profits risealong with executive salarieswhen they lay people off. CEO Phil Condit and other corporate officers in Chicago have no interest in the struggles Washington workers are having just to keep food on the table.
Gov. Locke, who should protect the public, is instead caving in to business interests that, under the guise of the Boeing crisis, are pushing anti-worker laws they've long dreamed of.
If Boeing is as important to Washington as Gov. Locke and the Seattle City Council tell us, then the state needs to take it over, run it as a state enterprise, and ensure it will stay here forever. This Boeing retiree calls on the state to "nationalize" Boeing in order to keep the jobs in Washington.
HENDIE ON M'S
I just read Mike Henderson's article regarding the Mariners' broadcast team ["Swung On and Belted!" June 4]. I listen to or watch upwards of 150 games each season and know exactly what he means. He left out one thing, though: We've got to find a way to stop these fellas from saying "grand slam home run." Is there such thing as a "grand slam triple"? It makes about as much sense as saying a "run-scoring RBI." Every time I hear Rick Rizzs define the grand slam, I want to cut off my ears with a dull knife.
Mark D. Fefer's article about Metro bus emissions [SW Behind the Wheel, "Bus-ted," May 28] contained misinformation and omitted some important information that was supplied to the reporter while he was researching the article.
First, Fefer inaccurately reported the number of older MAN buses in Metro's fleet. Currently, we have only 80 remaining in the fleet, not the 150-plus stated in the article. Those older buses, which will be retired by the end of the year, account for less than 5 percent of the buses Metro has on the street. Fefer also chose to ignore the 147 all-electric, nonpolluting trolleys that are the backbone of Metro's system inside the city of Seattle and carry 22 percent of all Metro passengers.
The article overlooks public transit's role in reducing fossil fuel consumption. Using the example cited by Fefer of a MAN bus with 32 passengers, based on actual fuel consumption, each of those bus passengers is getting 128 miles per gallon. While the Explorer, with 1.1 passengers, gets 19 mpg per passenger.
Metro is viewed as having one of the cleanest fleets of any urban transit system in the nation. Ultraclean hybrid- electric buses being introduced by Metro in 2004 will be even cleaner, with emission levels equal to, and often lower than, compressed natural gas-fueled buses.
As noted in the article, Metro's entire fleet is fueled with ultralow-sulfur fuel. The buses that will remain in the fleet the longest and all new buses are fit with particulate filters. Our fleet is 90 percent cleaner than 10 years ago, our newest vehicles are 99 percent cleaner, and the new hybrid buses we take delivery on next year will produce 99.5 percent less particulates than the buses they replace.
With constant encouragement and support from Executive Ron Sims, King County has made a major commitment to upgrading our equipment and put Metro ahead of most transit agencies in exceeding the national transit emission standardsand in advance of the federal mandates.
Unfortunately, Fefer chose to cloud Metro's clean reputation with outdated information and hazy comparisons.
King County Metro Transit
Mark D. Fefer responds: The number of MAN buses that was given in the story157came from Metro's own Web site.
Mark D. Fefer missed the mark with his poke at Metro buses and the Washington State Department of Transportation's ad campaign [SW Behind the Wheel, "Bus-ted," May 28]. Fefer said that mile for mile, a Metro bus pollutes nearly 60 times
more than a new passenger car like a Ford Taurus or a Nissan Sentra. That might be true if every Metro bus was a MAN diesel, an old-timer in the fleet that dates back to the mid-'80s and is being replaced by the end of this summer with new diesel buses that are the cleanest in the country. Soon Metro will also be replacing the old Breda buses that run on tunnel routes with ultraclean hybrid buses that meet the new 2007 engine standards and get fuel economy at least 40 percent higher than the best regular buses.
It's also unfortunate that Fefer chose to bury in the last three paragraphs all the good work Metro is doing to clean up its fleet. Metro is a nationally recognized leader for its work to bring clean buses to our region. For almost two years, the transit agency has been using ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel and installing advanced emission-control devices on its buses, which reduce emissions of fine particles and air toxics by 90 to 95 percent. Last year, Metro won a Clean Air Excellence Award from the EPA's national Clean Air Act Advisory Committee for its leadership role, in partnership with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and others, in bringing cleaner diesel fuels and diesel retrofits to the region years before the national deadlines of 2006 and 2007. Metro will soon have one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, urban bus fleets in the country. The Weekly should be headlining that story and not burying it behind a critical lead.
So rather than discouraging people from riding buses, we should be encouraging more to climb on board. That would mean less traffic congestion and cleaner air for all of us to breathe. Let's hear it for transit, and let's hear it for Metro's efforts to protect the air we breathe.
Dennis J. McLerran
Executive Director, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
Mark D. Fefer responds: As stated in the story, the "60 times" figure does not apply to the old MAN buses but to a year-2000 buswhich would, in fact, be younger and less-polluting than virtually all the buses in Metro's fleet. Metro's MAN buses are much worse.
Q13 NEWS @ 1
I question a statement made by Philip Dawdy in his article from Feb. 26, "The Trouble @ 10." He states: " . . . Q13 was mired in last place after last fall's sweeps. To judge from its performance during this month's sweeps, that's not likely to change."
In fact, Q13 has led the 10 p.m. time period since we began our newscast. In the February 2003 ratings period, according to the Seattle-Tacoma Nielsen Station Index, we were in first place vs. our time period competitor. And in the just-completed May 2003 ratings period, we were No. 1 against two 10 p.m. competitors.
The favor of a response is requested: Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to letters@ seattleweekly.com. By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.