The Vulcan Swap
George Howland Jr.'s article about possible collusion between the city and Vulcan to force the sale of the Pong properties in South Lake Union has me concerned, too ["Seattle Monopoly Board," April 5]. Wait a minute—we are requiring the submittal of bids and proposals for the sale of all the sites remaindered by the defunct monorail project. Why weren't bids and proposals required for the city's sale of these three Valley Street lots in South Lake Union? Don't tell me it's because Vulcan promised a land swap—that could have been a feature of their proposal in a competitive process. I fail to see why an open process for highest price is required sometimes (so we can't allow former owners to regain their businesses at cost) but not in others (so we can assist Vulcan in land assembly at less than market value). Let's assist former property owners along the monorail corridor if we are going to assist the largest property owner along the streetcar line.
Immoral or Not unethical?
In George Howland Jr.'s story about the eminent domain ruse by Greg Nickels and Vulcan to screw a property owner, Howland writes: "City Council President Nick Licata finds the city's behavior troubling, but not . . . unethical." ["Seattle Monopoly Board," April 5]. Howland then quotes Licata in the final paragraph of the piece: "Licata says he is unhappy about the outcome of the city's actions. 'It raises serious doubts in my mind about whether this is the morally right thing to do, even if it is legal.'"
Which is it, George?
Forget Dixon's Tickets
While I usually agree with the insights of Seattle Weekly columnist Geov Parrish, I was deeply disappointed in his willingness to join in the smear campaign against Aaron Dixon's Green Party candidacy for U.S. Senate ["Aaron Dixon's Voting Record," April 5].
I think Parrish is blowing Dixon's past legal troubles way out of proportion. If being a former cokehead or going AWOL from National Guard duty is not enough to prevent someone from running for (and even "getting elected") president of the United States, why should unpaid traffic violations prevent someone from running for U.S. Senate?
Maybe it's true that nobody in Congress has ever driven without insurance or gotten behind on child-support payments, but it would surprise me, even though most Congress members are millionaires. Obviously, candidates coming out of the grassroots activist community are not going to have the same benefits and privileges as your average senator. And as the Jack Abramoff scandal—just the tip of a very large iceberg—demonstrates, many Congress members are guilty of transgressions of far greater public import. Not to mention the way Democrats like Maria Cantwell have enabled an illegal war killing over 100,000 innocent people and the decimation of the U.S. Constitution by the Bush administration, which are the real issues in this campaign.
A multiracial, multigenerational crowd of several hundred people, including many progressive community leaders, at Dixon's campaign kickoff last weekend made clear they are much more concerned about the dismal Senate voting record of pro-war, pro–Patriot Act, pro-CAFTA, Alito-acquiescing Sen. Maria Can't-represent-us-well than they are about Dixon's traffic tickets.
Aaron Dixon is a longtime, highly regarded community activist who represents a challenge to the increasingly narrow spectrum of political discourse and electoral choices offered to voters in Washington state and across America. No wonder some people want to discredit him.
Geov Parrish's comments on the Aaron Dixon U.S. Senate candidacy were much to the point ["Aaron Dixon's Voting Record," April 5]. Certainly, many of us who preferred Maria Cantwell in 2000 wince at the thought of voting for her re-election. But Dixon, with all his own baggage, is not the answer to our prayers.
The senator has an opponent in the Democratic primary—a thoughtful young man named Mark Wilson (formerly a Green Party candidate), who makes the same criticisms of her support of the Bush invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act that many other Democrats do.
It would be much more sensible to support him in the primary than go for the Dixon "spoiler" campaign, which in a close election could turn over the seat to a GOP supporter of President Bush and deprive the Senate of one of its most effective environmentalists. The Green Party used to think that protecting the environment was worthwhile. I wish it still did.
Encore on Authors
Your issue profiling local authors ["Local Authorpalooza," March 29], many of them not well-known, was inspiring, and I hope it is only the beginning. I wonder how many letters you received asking, "What about me? I'm a published local writer." How about a regular feature profiling three or four more local authors in each issue, or at least each month?
Club Safety Rules
Nightclub owners and operators may be concerned about how quickly they may need to install automatic sprinklers as a result of the passage of House Bill 1401 last year ["Hot Water," March 22]. Fire safety officials who testified at public hearings in the House of Representatives and the Senate repeatedly said that an automatic sprinkler system was the primary difference between a fire in a nightclub in Rhode Island, where 100 people perished, and an otherwise similar fire in Minnesota, with no serious injuries. We believed Washington nightclub patrons are entitled to those same protections.
We set out to address the public health concern, have the appropriate administrative oversight, and alleviate some of the financial burden on businesses for installation of sprinkler systems through a special property tax exemption.
The Legislature decided against establishing a three-year implementation schedule in favor of delegating this important aspect to the rule-making process. Because there was significant interest in assuring that such rule-writing be given a high priority, the 2007 deadline for rules adoption was included in the bill.
We believe that, with the involvement of the stakeholder groups, there is sufficient time remaining between now and the 2007 deadline to receive additional input from the affected industry and revise the rules with a reasonable implementation schedule.
The Fire Protection Policy Board will be convening a meeting on April 26 to discuss this issue, and we hope that this will be an opportunity to confirm that all parties remain committed to this goal.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rep. Geoff R. Simpson
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