Blame the Board
Nice piece on Joel Horn ["Joel Horn's Blank Check," July 13]. I especially like his concept of "transparency" as explained by Susan Secker: Keep everything secret from everyone, even the board. Architects have a term for this type of "transparency": We call it "opacity."
But Rick Anderson was way too easy on the board. Finance Chair Secker needed someone to tell her to look at the forest instead of the trees? She doesn't know "whose feet" to lay this at? Just look down, Susan. The board members are responsible, and no one should accept any excuses from them, including the ever-popular "We didn't know!" refrain. Either they are competent or they are incompetent. If they are competent, then they are guilty of nonfeasance. Either way, they should all resign.
Joel's Horn Blowing
Thank you, Rick Anderson, for writing an article exposing Joel Horn for the huckster that he is ["Joel Horn's Blank Check," July 13]. While being a proponent of mass transit, I've been against the pie-in-the-sky, out-to-lunch, wild-eyed monorail scheme since I learned of the idea to finance it with a huge vehicle excise tax. As an engineer myself, I've always been leery of new untested technology, and Joel Horn's incautious and arrogant attitude was a red flag to me from the first time I heard him open his mouth. I'm glad Seattle Weekly focused on his role in the wreck we now have on our hands; it's just too bad it doesn't really change anything.
Thank you for Rick Anderson's excellent article, a profile of the breakdown of the monorail board to exercise its prime directive—accountability to the community ["Joel Horn's Blank Check," July 13]. We owe a debt of gratitude to OnTrack. As the monorail finance chair put it, monorail supporters have been so hypnotized ogling the pretty trees, facts from the forest have not been sufficient to break the spell.
Like 52 percent of my fellow citizens, I've watched and grown increasingly dismayed at the constrained environment, à la George Bush's "you're either with us or against us," fostered by not only the charismatic Joel Horn but also many board members, some of whom I count as friends. From these friends and from public comments, I have gotten the unmistakable message that they would regard as stupid, anti-green, anti–public transit, or, worse, hopelessly mired in Seattle-way process anyone who would wonder aloud about the scaled-back plan or do anything other than clap along with the monorail cheering squad.
There are many monorail board members who bear as much responsibility as its dethroned executive for inducing the public to "just trust us." The board's claim that the staff was less than forthcoming seems a pretty thin excuse.
I don't feel happy about this public spanking . . . well, maybe a little. What concerns me now is that the board has logged another strike against public confidence. We can't afford any more erosion of public trust. A first step is an accounting of how we got here. Anderson's article did a great service in this regard.
Paul's Commons Cause
The recent article by Rick Anderson ["Joel Horn's Blank Check," July 13] mischaracterizes Paul Allen's involvement in the Commons. Here is what actually happened: Mr. Allen was solicited by the Commons organization. Convinced that the Commons park would be a wonderful amenity for Seattle, his hometown, Mr. Allen made a major commitment to the vision. He loaned approximately $28 million to the Commons for purchase of parcels of land for the park—a loan secured by the parcels themselves. The well-publicized agreement was that if the park was approved by the Seattle voters, Mr. Allen would forgive his loans, making them a gift to the city and its citizens.
It is true that Mr. Allen contributed to the election campaigns for the Commons park, but they had nothing to do with gaining value for himself or Vulcan in the South Lake Union area. During the campaigns in 1995 and 1996, neither Mr. Allen, Vulcan, nor any of his other entities owned any property interests in South Lake Union. Mr. Allen's motives for contributing to the campaign and the park gift were purely altruistic. (In fact, had the campaign succeeded, Mr. Allen would have forgiven his loans and been left owning no property in the neighborhood.) It was well after the Commons vote failed and the properties acquired with Mr. Allen's money were transferred to his City Investors entities that Vulcan was required to figure out what to do with the properties. It was only then that the current vision for South Lake Union began to evolve.
Michael A. Nank
Media Relations, Vulcan Inc.
I had to comment on the article "Rich House, Poor House," by Nina Shapiro [July 13]. Regarding the new mixed-income developments such as Rainier Vista that will include affordable apartment buildings for low-income people, I am a bit incredulous that some express doubts about apartment living for low-income folks. It's just not reasonable to expect town homes or single-family homes to be affordable to those who make 30 percent of the median income or less. It would be wonderful if they could even qualify for a condominium opportunity. What we can do is create attractive designs that provide open space, porches and verandas, family-friendly layouts (with sufficient storage space), and the like to make these units as appealing as possible.
Fort Collins, CO
Thanks for Neal Schindler's great, in-depth article on Brandi Carlisle ["Fair Start," July 13]! I have been watching her grow these last two years, since moving to Seattle. In addition to her awesome talent, I have been much impressed with her mature business style. A former East Coast music agent, I worked briefly with Ed Shaw Entertainment here in Seattle. Brandi was one of the few "professional" artists who routinely advanced her dates, followed up to check on promotional listings, and called ahead with questions and equipment needs and to advise of impending changes.
She has been a professional since diapers, apparently, and I am so glad Schindler ended the article the way he did, by acknowledging her dues as paid in full. That woman is more talented and mature than half the 40-year-old veterans at the top of the charts. She deserves all the limelight and awards she wants . . . and to retain her creative freedom, I might add. It's only a matter of time until she is a national name!
Beck Is No Loser
I had never read Nate Patrin's writing for the Weekly before and am admittedly a longtime Beck fan. (I became one in a split second upon hearing "Loser," and in particular the line "Saving up your food stamps to burn down the trailer park.") Patrin's review ["Round the Bend," July 13] isn't so much upsetting as it is parasitic and condescending. He appears to be using the vehicle of an album review to bloat his portfolio with all kinds of cute turns of phrase and internally illogical comparisons (Beck sighing like Gordon Lightfoot?! I think not . . .) in his attempt to make some "sense" of the insensible, the visceral, the gestalt. Patrin is not the only one who exploits Beck's work in this manner, and it is annoying. There simply aren't enough pigeonholes in the world to enable the music critics' signature dysfunction as it applies to this guy. If Patrin (admittedly, to his credit) "feel[s] kind of dumb being put ill at ease by Beck songs," I rather imagine Dylan or John Donne would really make him feel uncomfortable.
That having been said, Patrin does have a way with words, and I hope he will decide to use this power for good and not evil.
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