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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM

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Letters to the Editor

Fireworks, the afterglow

Not to be a dud, but could we have some quiet reflection?

Editor, The Times:

President Adams gave us permission and we mucked it up. 'Twas he who suggested "illumination" [of Independence Day celebrations] and, as is our "American" way, we took it to excess. No doubt, he is spinning in his grave.

What would he think of the emergency-room injuries, runaway or drugged beloved pets, scorched lawns and, in general, being held captive in one's own home ... or dodging the night by finding a safe haven where civility is still in order?

Here, in the land of the supposedly informed and polite, July Fourth begins before the 4th and ends after it. In between are the "neighbors" who make the lives of those they live near miserable. At 1 a.m., my home nearly rocked off its foundation, and at 2 a.m., one of the tortured yelled out "Quiet!"

Who are these people and how did they become so arrogant, so self-absorbed, so uncaring and selfish?

Equally as important, they illustrate this behavior for the next generation. "Here, honey, hold this rocket for Daddy. Isn't this fun?"

Go. Have fun, I say. Have it somewhere else. We are just trying to make it through the holiday, as are our tortured pets. We pay taxes, we are good people. Treat us that way.

And have some respect for President Adams and the boys. They gave you the right to do it, not the right to destroy it.

— Andy Helman, West Seattle

Pocket boosters misfire

Regarding the festivities on Lake Union at Gasworks Park on the Fourth of July: The pyrotechnic designer, Eric Tucker of PPA Spectaculars, did a fantastic job. The fireworks were an astounding engineering feat, the most artistically beautiful and imaginative display I have ever seen.

But as I was watching the display, I was distracted by a huge banner, lit up brighter than the Seattle skyline, reading: "WaMu Family 4th." It should have been a giant American flag. Also at the park were three oversized WaMu banners that nearly engulfed the two American flags between them.

The event and festivities seemed to be flooded with corporate sponsorship. Minutes before the fireworks display began, an announcer welcomed us all to "WaMu Family 4th" — not Independence Day, the Fourth of July, or America's birthday — but "WaMu Family 4th."

It's only a little ironic that as we celebrated independence, we were consumed by corporate marketing. It seemed like WaMu saw America's independence as an advertising opportunity. It's just too bad the whole event was [trivialized] by corporate sponsorship when it could have been a beautiful cultural gathering.

— Brent Holland, Everett

Couldn't hear for days

The public is certainly getting a mixed message regarding the violation of Seattle's ordinance banning fireworks: On the one hand, "Holiday fireworks blamed in fires and injuries" [Local News, July 5] was a reminder that shooting them off violates the law. On the other hand was the lack of police response to complaints of incessant shooting over a three-day period, including rocket- and flare-launching from the grounds of the Burke-Gilman apartments on the night of the Fourth.

Case in point is my experience in trying to elicit a response from the North Police District after midnight the first night: "Office closed at 11 p.m." The following day, as firing continued during the day as well as the night: "Not an emergency," if nobody hurt and no fires started. The third night (firing still going on from the same source): "Duty officer not at the desk, please call again." Same answer after third try.

Must somebody get hurt and nearby houses or the grounds get set ablaze before an officer of the law intervenes — or even answers the phone?

— Murray Meld, Seattle

Ow wow

My dog is a very sensitive being. Since I first found him years ago, he has been very fearful of thunder and fireworks.

I know people love the fireworks show. I, too, used to love to go see the display every Fourth of July. But why do people need to have all the noise and smoke in the neighborhoods? Do these people have animals? And if they don't, can they look beyond their immediate experience and desires to understand how the noise they are creating might not be so wonderful for another being on this Earth?

I would be all for banning the fireworks in the neighborhoods. I think the big celebrations on Lake Union and in Elliot Bay are more than enough, and I'm sure these also create great turmoil for our animal friends.

Please think of our animal families and their wonderful sensitive beings. Dogs have hearing so much greater than humans'. Perhaps we could make July Fourth a celebration not only for human beings in the U.S., but for all creatures that inhabit this wonderful place and their right to be at peace.

— Rosemary Veilleux, Burien

Turning on the charm

Nice place to get lost

I have just come back from a week in your beautiful state. I had a wonderful time, I was able to celebrate July Fourth in Bothell and watch your parade and fireworks display. You definitely know how to celebrate.

My concern is your road signs. I found myself missing exits and entrances due to not seeing the signs because of overgrown brush and trees, which made it difficult to make the turn at the right place.

It isn't a problem for the people who live around there, because they know where to make the turns. But for someone coming from a small town, it was very frustrating.

I hope the next time I visit, the signs will be more noticeable. I did have a great time and definitely will come back.

— Geri Robertson, Mission, B.C.

Hello iPhone

So long, slime

Well, I didn't stand in line, but I did succumb to Apple's siren song and walked out of the University Village store on the June 29 launch day with an iPhone in hand, and a $600 dent in my wallet ["iPhone review: Hype meets reality," Business & Technology, July 2].

Six hours short of a full week of bliss, I lost my iPhone while walking around Green Lake. OUCH!!

Fortunately, a fine Seattle citizen named Brian found my precious device, found me in the contacts list, and I and my iPhone were reunited Saturday afternoon.

One interesting thing I have found in my first week of life in the iPhone zone: I frequently wash my hands to avoid smudging the beautiful screen. So will Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs now get credit for improving the personal hygiene of American consumers?

— William Valenti, Seattle

Tough questions for Rossi

Editor, The Times:

I believe there is an answer to "questions for the quasi-candidate" Dino Rossi ["Rossi's race: questions for the quasi-candidate," Times, Editorial, July 2].

You asked why Dino Rossi's Forward Washington organization can raise money and promote Dino Rossi for governor without adhering to campaign-finance laws. Obviously, Dino Rossi and the Forward Washington Foundation are part of the new Department of Dick Cheney.

-- Bill Taylor, Renton

In "Rossi's race: questions for the quasi-candidate" [Editorial, July 2], you neglected to ask Dino the most basic of all questions about his participation in our democracy. Namely, has Rossi apologized for crying "fraud" at every opportunity after the election counts started to go against him in 2004?

Although a battery of Republican heavy-hitters with all the resources of the National Republican Committee could show no hint of malfeasance or fraud, the damage caused by Rossi's cynicism persists. It is an article of faith in Eastern Washington's right-wing circles that the 2004 election was stolen by Gov. Chris Gregoire's Democrats.

Again: Has Rossi apologized for the harm he has done our culture of democracy? I haven't heard a syllable.

-- Don Sly, Seattle

Impeach the VP

"The secret's out on Cheney" [syndicated column, July 1] doesn't even begin to discuss all that Vice President Cheney has done to make President Bush the most impeachable president of all time. Our legislators refuse to take up the issue of impeaching Bush because most fear a President Cheney, although Cheney is already the master puppeteer pulling Bush's strings, so it wouldn't make any difference.

Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich has already sought the best solution to the problem by bravely introducing HR 333, calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. We must now all support the Impeachment of Vice President Cheney to render Bush relatively harmless in his dead-end presidency.

-- Duane Grindstaff, Kent

Defending the secret ballot

It was a bit unnerving to read "Union bill dies; asbestos ban advances" [Local News, July 2], about Sen. Patty Murray pushing for a bill that would prohibit secret elections in the workplace during unionizing campaigns.

I've nothing against unions, and was once a proud member of the Newspaper Guild, but what does removing the sanctity of the secret ballot have to do with protecting democracy, or the rights of workers?

Will she next propose that we do away with the secret ballot for our primary and general elections?

Why would she remove the very hallmark of democracy -- the sanctity of the secret ballot -- from the worker? Does she feel as if workers are incapable of exercising such a responsibility?

George Orwell and his book about a totalitarian takeover, "Animal Farm," introduced the propaganda concept of "new speak" in which right becomes wrong, and good becomes bad. Sen. Murray certainly proves to be an Orwellian orator as she defends her attempt to remove the secret ballot for workers as "standing with our nation's workers and strengthening their voices, rights and protections."

If the senator truly wants to strengthen their "voices, rights and protections," I'd suggest a good place to start would be defending everyone's right to the sanctity of the secret ballot.

-- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

I do not see why Sen. Patty Murray is so proud of her vote for the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act." The bill is precisely the opposite. The bill would have taken away the employee's true free choice, the right to a secret ballot on union representation.

When union representatives approach a worker and ask, "You wanna sign the union card, don'tcha pally?" it takes a lot of courage to say "no." Only a secret ballot, as current law provides, gives a worker a truly free choice.

Sen. Murray says "the Republicans walked away" -- but from what? They walked away from labor-union coercion, to preserve free choice, not to take it away.

-- John Carlin, Edmonds

Letter writer Jacob Clark proved the liberal compulsion to twist facts, and indeed lie ["Middle class the loser," Northwest Voices, July 2]. Clark gave the impression that those awful, nasty Republicans blocked a bill that would have given workers "free choice." The name of the bill was "Employee Free Choice Act," which in itself is a lie.

The bill would have taken away the secret ballot in union-organization elections, and replaced it with a system in which a union organizer brings a union authorization card for the workers' signature. The union official is free to intimidate a worker until the card is signed. The intimidation could occur at the workplace or even in the workers' homes.

Blocking this bill in no way stops workers from organizing unions, it just stops the intimidation of workers who don't want a union.

-- Bill McColl, Everett

I don't commend today's Republicans for much, but for preventing passage of the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," all freedom-loving citizens should thank them.

Apparently, the Democrats, notably including our Sen. Patty Murray, seem to think possible corporate harassment of employees voting upon whether to unionize will be worse than the union harassment. But with secret voting it is difficult for anybody to determine whom to harass.

Under the proposed act it would be clear to the unions, but not the companies, where to apply harassing pressure.

Sure, under current law, with secret voting, the corporations can hold meetings to express their points of view -- but so can the unions.

With the proposed act, allowing unions to organize companies' employees using signed cards collected by the unions, with no secrecy at all, the unions' opportunity for harassment would be greatly increased. History has shown many unions are not reluctant to use almost any method to force their control.

If we want a fair system, we should have a right-to-work law, allowing any worker to choose or reject union membership without fear of being fired or refused employment. And if he must pay union fees (which I object to) for representation in wage negotiations, the unions must be required to obtain his permission under an opt-in system before any of his required contributions can be used in political activities.

-- Spencer M. Higley, Edmonds

Preposterous panel

Well, accountability certainly stops well before our sorry mayor's office. Mayor Greg Nickels said the publicity surrounding the leaked report prompted his decision to form a panel to investigate the actions of Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske ["Mayor forms big-name panel to scrutinize police oversight," News, June 1].

Let's see, that's on top of the 1999 panel that formed the Office of Professional Accountability, and the "advisory group" formed by City Council President Nick Licata.

Nickels said, "I will certainly take their recommendations very seriously, but I will need to make my own decisions."

Ahhh, yes, Mr. Mayor, of course. We're proud of your strong leadership. Read the news and form a panel and what a panel it is. They all seem to be liberals, possibly without affection for law and order.

I am sometimes embarrassed to be from Seattle.

-- Theodore M. Wight, Seattle

New definition of "pro bono"

So Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine will extract over $1 million from Seattle Public Schools for "pro bono" work in the recent legal battle over Seattle's admissions policies ["Income not always perfect tiebreaker," Local News, Jun 30]. This will punish the district for honest efforts to comply with the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which was the law of the land until last week.

Law partner Harry Korrell claims that this money "will allow the firm to do more pro bono work." But if this future pro bono work has been paid for in advance by the Seattle Schools' $1 million, it will hardly be pro bono, will it?

"Pro bono" means "for the good of," and is usually short for "pro bono publico" -- for the good of the public. In Mr. Korrell's use of the term, however, it is evidently short for "pro bono Davis Wright Tremaine."

Until now, I have associated the firm's name with sponsorship of local public television. For me, this made them one of the good guys. They could restore some luster to their name by reconsidering their intention to require a payment that will have a serious impact on Seattle's schoolchildren.

-- Beret Carlson Kischner, Seattle

Adjusting school funding

The Supreme Court's ruling is sending America backwards to a time of inequality in education ["Will income be the next tiebreaker for schools?" News, June 29].

The approach to funding the public schools needs to be changed. Inequity is inherent when you have neighborhood property values funding neighborhood schools. We have been attempting to force equality by busing kids.

As I see it, the way that school funding is collected and disbursed needs to be changed. If school-funding money were pooled in one account, then divided by the number of students in the state, and then that amount funneled to the neighborhood schools, children would get more of a "fair" allotment of money. Levies for additional funding would have to then be approved by the voters of the whole state, not just the district.

As most people pick where they live based upon the school district, if you move the funding source to be statewide we might enjoy a more diverse community in our neighborhoods.

It is just a thought. Let's think outside the box, folks.

-- Martha Monkman, Bainbridge Island

Chew on this

Here's a modest suggestion for the sporting folks at the International Federation of Competitive Eating: Schedule an eating contest for the day that the 850 million people in this world who are currently undernourished have enough to eat on a regular basis [See "Champ speaks frankly about jaw pain," News, June 26, and "Food Fighter," Sports, July 5].

Hold it in a place (probably somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a third of the population now suffers from chronic hunger) that can no longer find citizens to count as hungry persons. And donate part of the profit from the event to an organization such as Bread for the World, just in case there is another famine at some future time.

-- Dick Nelson, Seattle

Immigration agreement

There are many major problems with immigration and protecting the borders [See "Senate immigration bill fails; issue 'is going to have to wait'."News, June 29]. Surely, the government must understand these problems are critical to both business and citizens.

You would think Congress could put party differences aside and create a bill that would satisfy both parties. Instead, they limit amendments, then offer a 300-plus-page set of amendments the evening before the vote.

Why in the world do the majority leaders think they can solve the problems that have been escalating for many years with no joint committee hearings, little or no debate and limited floor amendments?

The whole Senate should be sequestered during their summer break until they jointly work out the details for an agreed upon immigration bill.

-- Bob Hardy, Bothell

Bad Apple?

Your critique of Apple's iPhone ["iPhone: How Apple created a frenzy," News, June 28] has me gasping once again for a breath of fresh Northwest air.

Seattle's almost fanatical reliance on Microsoft has always amazed me. Apple produces outstanding products, with a reputation for quality and performance, sleek and innovative design and engineering. Microsoft produces products that continually fail to deliver on even the most basic promises, yet it is Apple that you constantly criticize for its bold moves, while you laud Microsoft in spite of its mediocrity.

If you applied even a resemblance of fairness, you would be chastising Microsoft for its successive list of product and service failures, not Apple for its bold leadership.

-- Larry Hewitt, Centralia

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