Letters to the Editor

Letters

Strongly objects to addition of name

You, the editor of the Review, altered a letter to the editor by my husband, Captain James Olsen, published Saturday the 5th by adding my name as a parenthetical to the body of that letter.

While I would be most happy to meet with Review staff and provide an interview concerning the nature of my historical film work, I strongly object to an editorial addition of my name to the letter as if it were part of the original letter.

Be honest: The pages of the Review are entirely yours to do with as you wish. You have a free hand to make editorial comment – but keep the “Letters” honest.

MARY VICTORIA DOMBROWSKI

Producer, “War & MAGIC”

Bicyclists should be last to disembark

In regard to your article titled “Change afoot at ferry terminal,” I have a simple solution that would not cost a penny and the $460,000 can be better spent on more needed projects. The solution is: unload the bicycles last.

M.C. HALVORSEN

Bainbridge Island

Island coordinator valuable resource

“An emergency becomes a disaster when help is not on the way.” With that sobering distinction, Ed Call, the Island Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, began his presentation to representatives of our neighborhood last fall.

Ed reminded us of what we have repeatedly had occasion to practice: “Your most immediate source of help are the neighbors living around you.” Our goal was to move beyond intuitive, hit-or-miss neighborly reaction to thoughtful preparation and planning.

Over the winter, a small group applied the Map Your Neighborhood program to more than 100 families. We have identified resources, skills and equipment, prepared contact lists and identified neighbors who may need some extra help. We have a plan of action and volunteers to implement it. And an added bonus: our community is more neighborly and cohesive as a result!

Ed has presented this program to nearly 200 island neighborhoods. Based on our experience, we encourage others to call Ed at (206) 473-7818. See how he can guide you to be better prepared for an emergency, and, if need be, a disaster. An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

JULIE SHYROCK

Washington Avenue

Councilman favors $20 car charge

Our island isn’t immune from the dark clouds of our national economic downturn.

At our City Council public workshop on the city’s financial picture last Wednesday, we reported that certain city taxes and fee revenues are already declining below expected levels. Our finance director estimates we’re likely to end the year about $1 million to $2 million below this year’s $37 million target for operating revenue.

How should we respond? First, our Council Finance Committee is monitoring revenue trends monthly with our finance director. Furthermore, council, mayor and staff have taken a huge step by paring down capital projects to the most cost-effective level — such as our recent $7 million reduction in optional features for the proposed Winslow Way utility repair and street project. Next, council last month started cutting costly but lower-priority 2008 capital projects, eliminating the Wyatt-Madison roundabout project and one other. And I see a willingness to find more efficiencies and manage down our city expenses, with guidance from the benchmarking study of city operations.

But, with less surplus revenue to fund council-approved bonds for capital projects, what else can we do? How do we fund our island’s essential multi-million dollar roadwork projects to avoid shut-downs and tie-ups, to keep traffic flowing, and to achieve safer conditions for drivers, bicyclists and walkers who share the road? Bainbridge is the state’s fourth largest city by land area. That’s a big road maintenance challenge for our small population.

One action I’ve heard several islanders suggest is for council to adopt a $20 annual charge per car. Collectively, we islanders own nearly 21,000 cars — almost as many cars as people of all ages. Those yearly $20 contributions at annual car registration time would enable us (with leveraging, through city bond issuance) to fund about $6 million of transportation infrastructure work while we rebalance our city budget to our new financial constraints.

Those $20 contributions could help fund several much-needed multi-million dollar projects to relieve traffic congestion and achieve greater safety for cars, bicyclists and road-side walkers — such as on North Madison and Wing Point Way. It could stabilize the storm-damaged Rockaway road and other partially undermined roads. It could improve congested and complex intersections such as Ericksen and Winslow Way.

As a council member, I’m looking for a fair way to fund our road safety improvements and emergency repairs at a time when the city’s other taxes and fees are declining because of the recession.

Several of our taxes in Washington are regressive. For example, our sales tax impacts lower income families the most. And our property tax can be a burden for a person with a fixed income living in a house with increasing assessed value. Twenty dollars per car is a fairer way to fund our essential roadwork. It enables our car ownership to help pay for the roads we use. And perhaps we can create a low-income hardship exception similar to the property tax.

Under state law, the most the council has the power to approve is $20. And all of the $20 charge must be applied solely to transportation projects on our island. Let’s let our car use contribute to repairing and maintaining safer roads for cars, and for bicyclists and walkers who share our roads.

BARRY PETERS

City Council member

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