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Originally published Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Light rail deserves more than comic book consideration With the release of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight," countless denizens of...

Editor, The Times

Batman and the train

Light rail deserves more

than comic book consideration

With the release of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight," countless denizens of the Greater Seattle area streamed downtown to see the modern masterpiece in its most glorious form, IMAX. Certainly, they were not disappointed.

But if all those Batman fans are anything like me, they were also forced to deal with a difficulty that has plagued Seattle for years — elusive parking spots and inadequate transportation alternatives. Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father, understood this problem when he built his monorail-like rail line to bring Gothamites from far and wide straight into the city's heart.

This got me thinking: Why not in Seattle?

I looked into it, and, in fact, Sound Transit is deciding whether or not to put an extension of their Link light-rail system on the ballot ["Light-rail proposal may make fall ballot," Local News, July 18]. The new lines would service Seattle's outer suburbs, and would get more people out of their cars than any other transportation project being considered nationwide.

They would save millions of dollars on gasoline, drastically reduce our air pollution, and do far more to alleviate traffic congestion than any cockamamie scheme Tim Eyman could cook up.

It's time, Seattle. Show Sound Transit that you support these extensions. The elder Wayne would approve, and so do I.

— Derek Rutter, Olympia

Mercer Island ire

Residents should welcome homeless

As a three-year resident of Mercer Island, I have spent more time correcting misperceptions of my city than any other place I've lived. Island residents are stereotyped as shallow at best and racist at worst, uncaring about anything beyond their next tennis game.

While there are certainly people here who fit those stereotypes, my knowledge of my neighbors is of committed, thoughtful, open-minded, generous and caring people who give a great deal of their time and money to make the world a better place. With great pride I greeted the news that Mercer Island would be hosting Tent City 4.

This is an opportunity not only to learn from people in different walks of life, but also to teach our children that although our circumstances may differ, all people are fundamentally the same. My family recently had the opportunity to share a meal with the residents of Tent City 4, a positive experience we hope to repeat many times.

It is extremely disappointing to me to hear of the small group of Island residents who have sued to prevent Tent City 4 from coming here ["Mercer Islanders fighting Tent City," Local News July 24]. Why it is more difficult for them to look at Honey Buckets in use by the Tent City's residents than the numerous examples in constant use for residential remodels is beyond me.

Though I had hoped that hosting the encampment would help dispel some of the negative stereotypes people have of Mercer Island, I fear this lawsuit will instead help to confirm them. I believe the vast majority of Islanders are welcoming of Tent City 4 and hope that news gets out, whatever the outcome of the lawsuit.

— Jean Greaves, Mercer Island

Do-gooding boomers unite

Working people give back, collectively

I am one of those "graying do-gooders on the march" [guest commentary, July 22], since 1967 when I joined other students in Normal, Ill., to campaign against housing discrimination for blacks. Like many women now in our 60s, we have always worked two or three jobs — one or two to pay the bills and one to keep the struggle alive for civil, women's and labor rights.

To that end, I am helping to organize the Radical Women's 41st Anniversary Conference in San Francisco, Oct. 3-6, where youth and boomers will gather to plan how to secure nationalized health care, 24-hour child care and full reproductive rights. We don't have millions to give away. What we have is our tenacity and commitment to fight for a better world.

Billionaires, such as Bill Gates, may have the option of retirement or an "encore" career. Most of us will continue working because corporate dynasties make profits by paying workers wages that don't keep pace with the cost of living.

The best "give-back revolution" I can imagine is a socialist one, replacing capitalism with a humane economy where the wealth workers create benefits them and their children instead of the top 2 percent that rule the world.

— Mary Ann Curtis, Seattle

The last green space

Bellevue park plan benefits big business

The Bellevue Parks & Community Services Department plans to develop a new 27-acre park in the Eastgate area ["Bellevue seeking 40M for parks," Local News, July 24]. This planned park is within walking distance of two existing parks, plus the Phantom Lake trails area and is not really needed. This planned park will destroy the last really green area remaining here.

Two large office buildings and a parking garage have been completed adjacent to the 27 acres within the past month. This new park will only benefit the business occupying those offices. That business is Microsoft.

Before the start of construction this area was residence to quail, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, geese and an occasional deer and coyote, most of which no longer remain.

Progress? Yes. Tax base? Yes. Do the citizens of Bellevue have to provide an open space for Microsoft employees to spend lunch hours? The parks department seems to think so. Let's forget the park, and leave these 27 acres alone. They are special.

— Gunnar Anderson, Bellevue

Not getting no respect

McCain's whining distractingly old school

In what is beginning to sound like a broken record, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain accuses the media of favoritism toward Sen. Barack Obama.

What is emerging from the McCain campaign sounds more like whining and sour grapes than presenting the best case before the American voting public for why his policies would be in their best interests, and not those being advocated by Obama. McCain is beginning to seem more like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield of "I Don't Get no Respect" fame than a serious contender for the Oval Office.

The latest political ad to be released from his camp is a parody of news correspondents and anchors swooning over Obama as Frankie Vali's "I Can't Take My Eyes off of You" plays in the background. Frankie Vali? How many people, except those around McCain's age, even know who Frankie Vali is, let alone get the seriousness, if any, of the parody?

The only thing the montage might have shown is that McCain is out-of-touch and "old school," a relic out of some remote past; people are more forward-thinking and are looking to a brighter tomorrow. McCain is reminiscent of Bobby Ewing from the old "Dallas" television series of the 1970s.

In one episode, Bobby Ewing complained to his dad, Jock Ewing, the CEO of the Ewing Oil Company about how his brother, J.R., got control of the company by outmaneuvering him. Instead of being sympathetic and supportive, this rough and tough former Texas wildcatter told Bobby, "Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take."

Instead of McCain crying in his beer, he needs to have a good plan that will help restore the economy, shore up the mortgage crisis and subprime lending practices, have a universal-health-insurance plan, talk more about immigration, make the case for global-warming legislation, and come up with a better plan for solving the energy crisis as well as bringing the troops home.

If McCain does some more homework and comes up with a realistic solution, not just a different one from Obama's plan, the media will inform the public. Until then, McCain should just relax, sit back and have a few cold ones.

— Robert Randle, Tacoma

Bag taxing cyberspace

Fee might be hard to enforce online

I support the plastic-bag tax in principle ["Council panel OKs bag fees," Local News, July 23], but as currently conceived, I believe it would make grocery shopping impossible for me.

As a handicapped man, I pick out groceries online and have groceries delivered. The Web site I use does not and cannot know how many bags will be needed for my delivery, but charges my credit card for the products I buy.

Currently, with each delivery I return the bags used in the previous delivery, so the store can recycle them, but a per-bag charge might be impossible to implement for online grocery shopping.

— Danny Goodisman, Seattle

Paying for parks

They're worth it

Your recent article about the Seattle Parks levy suggested that economic uncertainty, rising food prices and $4-per-gallon gasoline make this the wrong time to put a parks measure on the ballot ["Seattle council puts $146 million parks measure on Nov. 4 ballot," Local News, July 21].

Many of us would argue that in hard times our parks and playgrounds become even more important, because they provide access to nature and recreational opportunities that are close to home and affordable for all. For all those who can't afford pricey athletic clubs and have to think hard about the cost of driving to the coast or the mountains, our park system is becoming more important with each upward tick in the price of gas.

If the park levy passes, the average household will pay less than 25 cents per day. For that, they will get more neighborhood parks, safety improvements and upgrades at more than twenty playgrounds, major improvements to the most heavily used sports fields, three big new parks on reservoir lids, more bicycle trails, an expansion of the city's P-Patch system, preservation of greenbelts and natural areas, and more.

Voters can judge for themselves whether these things are worth a quarter a day.

— Tom Byers, Seattle

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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