A Case of Caseys

"If I continually tried to provoke my landlord, a lot of crap would hit the fan."

Be Nice to Your Landlord

After reading your article on the Conor Byrne–Casey ordeal ("A Case of Caseys," May 24), I had to ask myself what the motive was. It seems pretty clear that this is a tenant-landlord situation. Why does this story warrant such a lengthy article that clearly portrays the Caseys in a negative manner?

I have known John and Kathy since I arrived in Old Ballard several years ago. Kathy was my biggest cheerleader, and as far as I can see, one of the biggest cheerleaders for the growth of Ballard—I don't follow the same opinion, but then I came to Ballard for its low-key charm and realness. But alas, everything good must change.

I am not taking sides on this battle, just voicing some pretty simple ideas.

When you are a tenant, you should really attempt to get along with your landlord. I know it is not always easy. Really, I do, but I also know that life is too short to go against the grain. I would imagine if I continually tried to provoke my landlord, a lot of crap would hit the fan—not worth it to me!

I will tell you that the Caseys are Seattle Originals. Kathy has donated so much of her time to charities throughout Seattle over the years.

You should feel pretty crappy about writing such a one-sided story. Just because someone is a celebrity is not a reason to write such a biased piece. I would have expected more from the Weekly!

Kirsten Burt

Owner, Madame K's

Seattle

Caseys Go Home!

First, I would like to applaud Mike Seely for exercising incredible restraint refraining from using as many four-letter words as I would have used to describe Kathy and John Casey ("A Case of Caseys," May 24). The battle between the Caseys and their tenants, Kathleen Kinder/Conor Byrne's doesn't surprise me in the least. This is, sadly, all too typical of how greed continues to play a factor in so many real estate and business deals.

I have been an artist, bartender, and business owner in Seattle (Ballard in particular) for 10 years. I would like to state my support for Kathleen, the management, and staff of Conor Byrne's.

All the Caseys had to do was wait until the lease was up or buy out the tenants. I understand they own the building and feel entitled to do as they please, but they are also not considering that businesses with longstanding history and respect in the community, like Conor's, have made historic Ballard Avenue a viable place to have such a business in the first place.

Ten years ago, one couldn't walk a block on Ballard Avenue after dark without being verbally or physically assaulted by a drunk fisherman. Now, one can't walk a block without nearly getting run over by some Jetta-driving hipster babbling on a cell phone.

By attempting underhanded techniques to evict their tenants on completely absurd pretenses, they are only serving to lose whatever spot of respect they may have had from a majority of the other business owners on the street.

Michael O'Driscoll

Columbia City

Seattle Police Guild Code

It was fitting that Rick Anderson's article ("Cops Jumping the Gun," May 24) was released about the same time as the film The Da Vinci Code. Both take a few facts and weave them into a fictional story.

As president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, I am appalled at this style of journalism. Only those who are very familiar with the cases know how one-sided and inaccurate your descriptions truly are.

You treat as "fact" a version of the incident supplied by someone that you refer to as a "dope smoker." What officer is going to place his fingers in the mouth of someone who is equipped with a full set of teeth? Think about that! Neither officer knew the person was trying to swallow a marijuana joint until after the encounter was over. You failed to mention that he apologized and shook hands with the officers. The claim that a gun was held "one inch from his head" was absurd and not supported by any evidence.

Your account of the off-duty officer at 12th Avenue and East Pike Street is equally troubling. The street thug escalated a panhandling situation into a felony when he maliciously harassed the officers with vulgar name-calling and then slammed the officer's partner over the head with a bottle. The officer gave chase and dropped her off-duty weapon. You failed to mention that even the suspect confirmed this happened. The officer's weapon accidentally discharged as she picked it up. The officer was disciplined for not following the proper procedures when reporting such a discharge. To imply that there was evidence that she fired at the suspect is untrue.

I challenge Seattle Weekly to handle these kinds of stories in a more balanced and fair manner, or just label them as fiction.

Sgt. Richard F. O'Neill

President, Seattle Police Officers Guild

Rick Anderson responds: The union's account is far different from the official record of findings that was the basis for discipline and our story. To quote the official record about the park incident: "The evidence in this case supports that . . . officer [blank] inserted his finger in [suspect's] mouth . . . [he] also used force in putting his fingers inside of subject's mouth. . . ." The internal investigative report also says "the evidence provided by the officers does not support a justification for [the officer] to have his finger on the trigger and the firearm so close to subject's head. . . . " The measurement of "one inch" is used throughout the findings.

As for the 12th and Pike incident, "The preponderance of evidence tends to support that she shot at him and did not have an accidental discharge. . . ."

If these facts are fiction, the author is the Seattle Police Department.

Start Search for Maestro

I am writing in response to Roger Downey's recent article ("Schwarz Surprise," May 17) regarding the announcement of a new contract for Seattle Symphony Music Director Gerard Schwarz. Mr. Downey's article is an accurate depiction of the orchestra's reaction to Maestro Schwarz's new contract and the history of events within the symphony. The vast majority of Seattle Symphony musicians are shell-shocked and dismayed: They recognize the need for change.

The issue is not Maestro Schwarz personally. If anything, I'm biased in his favor. He's a friend, was my teacher at Juilliard, and he hired me for this job. He has brought a lot to the organization and is enormously popular with our major donors. However, it is time for fresh artistic leadership for the symphony, as well as new challenges for Gerry. Everyone loses when music directors stay too long. Orchestras become artistically stagnant, as do music directors. Judging from our attendance these past few seasons, so do audiences. This is why the average tenure for music directors in modern orchestras is in the seven-to-10-year range, not the 25-plus this contract represents for Maestro Schwarz. We are fortunate to have so many new, younger musicians who have raised the bar on performance quality and brought fresh musical and professional approaches to the organization, but that is not enough.

Simply put, we need a new music director to take us to the next higher artistic level.

I believe that the contract extension was an appropriate decision for the board to have made, but it is time for public acknowledgment that this will be Gerry's final contract here and a music director search committee should be formed immediately. Finding the ideal next music director can take substantial time, with so many leading conductors under long-term contracts elsewhere and booked years in advance, but that search should reignite the musical excitement that has become less consistent at Benaroya Hall recently. Seattle needs to see all potential music directors in performance here, and that won't happen without the board's commitment to change and their dedication to a smooth transition.

With that commitment from the board and from Gerry, we can spend the next five years looking to the future with excitement and celebrating the considerable good that Maestro Schwarz has brought to the symphony.

Geoffrey Bergler

Trumpet, Seattle Symphony

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