Letters to the Editor

Letters

Ferries

Yard needs to relocate

I want to thank the Review for the Sean Roach front page article (“WSF gets OK for second round of projects,” Sept. 24) about the WSF plans for the $18 million work of maintenance at the Eagle Harbor Ferry Maintenance Facility.

It’s hard to believe that the city has been working on the issuance of a building permit since last February and approved the WSF building permit Aug. 26.

The mayor found out on Sept. 2 that the permit had been approved. This basically is the first step in an estimated $40 million project and decides the use of this critical piece of Winslow waterfront for at least the next 30 to 50 years.

Why was the community not involved in this process? Why no press release to the community that it is a “done deal?” And what happened to the COBI promise to provide a community boatyard that is required by law by the 1974 State Shoreline Hearing Board as mitigation to build the Eagle Harbor condos next to the Ferry Terminal? Or the one-acre boatyard that WSF signed with COBI in a Memorandum of Understanding late in the 1990s? The main WSF plan for the 7 1/2 acres entered in the permit application shows no community boatyard at all, only a 135-car parking area for WSF employees.

The processing of this permit follows the same form of “non-transparency” that started when Mayor (Darlene) Kordonowy in early 2004 agreed with WSF managers that they could expand the maintenance facility without knowledge of the City Council or the community until late 2004.

Out of the now aborted Winslow Tomorrow community involvement came a group of citizens that formed Reclaim Our Waterfront (ROW), including this writer. ROW has been able to delay WSF for four years. In that time, all ferry communities began to pull together and work with WSF. As a result, state legislators passed a bill cosponsored by Rep. Christine Rolfes that requires WSF to prepare a 20-year operating and capital plan that is due to be published by the time the State Legislature’s 2009 session begins in January.

Why not wait to issue this permit until the state has a chance to deal with the 20-year WSF plan due in December? And what about the community boatyard?

In this time of a predicted $3.5 billion state 2009/2010 budget shortfall, why are we wasting money on a facility located in the wrong place? There are rumors that the U.S. Coast Guard in Seattle would like to move to Everett to be near the U.S. Navy facility, making the present Coast Guard facility available. And there are rumors that the Navy Yard in Bremerton would like to have the facility there with a separate gate to make sure that they have enough business if we ever reduce our U.S. military expenditures.

Merrill Robison

Vineyard Lane

Respond to WSF plans

There was a public meeting Thursday night in Winslow regarding the future of the ferry system. It is clear that there is a significant gap in funding the ferries and the state Transportation Commission is going to recommend that operating costs be funded primarily from the fare box. The gap for operating funds exceeds an average of $60 million a year. Only two runs – Bainbridge and Kingston – have revenues that exceed their operating cost, which means that those runs are supporting the rest of the system, all of which require subsidies.

WSF is proposing to use strategies such as reservations and peak-period pricing to control demand – encouraging vehicles to move to nonpeak runs. Originally these strategies were described as “revenue neutral,” but that is obviously not consistent with what the Transportation Commission is proposing.

For Bainbridge, “demand management” means shifting riders from Bainbridge – where demand is already starting to exceed service needs – to places like Bremerton, where excess capacity exists. This can occur only if they apply higher fares to Bainbridge and discounts or extra service to Bremerton. Since the Bainbridge run carries more than 25 percent of the riders for the system, such an approach also raises revenue, even if ridership drops.

The strategy of peak-period pricing would essentially shift even more of the burden of paying for the system to Bainbridge. What do we get for this? WSF would say we avoid even more congestion, at least on the boat. We need to determine if we as a community feel that the tradeoff is worth the price they will ask us to pay. But hey, according to the Transportation Commission’s survey, we can afford it.

Is it time for others to provide more support for this system, which, after all, serves our entire state? Even the Transportation Commission acknowledges that there is no way to adequately fund the existing system, much less the improvements necessary to meet future growth without significant state funding. That has to be addressed by the Legislature.

The timing for the meeting on Thursday was poor and few people showed up to hear what the Transportation Commission and WSF presented. But we can still provide feedback to them – and should – before it is too late.

Martha Burke, chair

Bainbridge Ferry Advisory Committee

PAWS

Cute kittens seek homes

If you’ve been thinking about adding a feline to your family, now is the time to visit the PAWS Cat Adoption Center at 8820 Miller Rd.

Whether you want black, white, calico, orange or tiger tabby; male or female; longhaired or short, you’re bound to find just the right pet among the 22 kittens now awaiting their families.

And if you don’t find what you want, PAWS has about 30 more kittens that will be old enough to adopt in the coming weeks.

All kittens are spayed or neutered and vaccinated. For their health and safety, as well as to protect the environment, kittens adopted from PAWS must be indoor cats only. Call 780-0656.

Judy Hartstone, PAWS executive director

Ancestry

We are everybody

The latest Sunday Times featured interviews with people who are proud of their mixed ancestry. They all said they were half this and half that, as we refer to Barack Obama.

They aren’t. They are everybody. The only difference between one person and another of our species is our ancestors’ culture.

I myself wanted to know something of the father I never knew, and the only way was to have my DNA tested. The results: Dad was from Ireland.

His ancestors were from England, Italy, Basque territory, Spain, Portugal, American Hispanics, Brazil, Switzerland, China, Belgium, Austria, Africa, Denmark and Columbia. And going back further, they found North and Central African, Bangladesh, India, Tibet and Japan – that is, the regions which go by those names today.

Race is really a stupid myth; we are all everybody. So next time your neighbor crows that he’s “Scotch-Irish,” tell him to check his DNA and be proud to be simply human.

Raj Shivapriyan

Parfitt Way SW

Election ’08

Playing the blame game

Blame. Comeuppance. It’s happening. In Congress. On City Council. With last week’s failure of the island’s savings and loan bank. From the local media and email reports, as they give way to the better detailing of it from sold-out N.Y. newspapers.

In the Veep choice offered of Sarah Palin: a Madonna, an affront, or a partisan opportunity for and against the symbol she supposedly is nominated to represent. You can get an overall whiff of an almost whimsical lapse in the nation’s mystique for excellence.

And that the Republic for which it stands was not anointed from on high to be foolproof or necessarily wise in its options.

Earlier this week, a few Eastside radio street interviews of pedestrians reflected almost a uniform astonishment that our elected officials could claim to know enough to bring off the money bailout fix-up well.

But how did this hubris gel on so many levels all at once? Maybe disinformation is infectious and using Google does tend to make us stupid.

Or did we get lazy about studying carefully the bone fragments around us? Admittedly we’ve gotten inattentive about granting others responsibility when they can then blame the public for our troubles by being too demanding with our lists of competing needs. Since when were these easy-to-read, short lists?

But since when did we vote for a politician who at the start said we are confusing to lead and so beware. I can’t recall electing anyone who promised beforehand they would get confused and have to stop weighing priorities when they had trouble deciding what to do about our every wish.

Is “the buck being passed” without acknowledging Harry Truman’s pithy truth as to where it should stop?

R.O. Conoley

Sunrise Drive

Return trip for Rolfes

As she did as a Bainbridge City Council member, Christine Rolfes continues to champion families and veterans, improved ferry service and environmental sustainability issues as our representative in Olympia.

In just this past year, she sponsored legislation to improve and monitor state funding for passenger-only ferry service (HR 2273), set up a challenge-grant program to help communities provide adult day-care services (HR 2789), allow crime victims to advise Department of Corrections on placing specific offenders in work release programs (HR 2436) and include National Guard members in Washington State’s veterans assistance programs (HB 2595).

As a cyclist, I’m also heartened by her sponsorship of a bill (HR 2732) to establish officially the “3-foot rule” as the safe distance for vehicles to pass a bicycle.

Her position as vice chair of the House Ecology and Parks Committee and her membership on the House Transportation Committee have given Kitsap’s 23rd District the representation it needs to have its voice heard in Olympia on ferry issues and Puget Sound clean-up and restoration.

However she fares in next month’s election, Christine deserves praise and a hearty thank you for representing our interests so successfully in the House of Representatives!

Rob Jacques

Madrona Drive

Jewish New Year

Holiday is important

I was more than a little disappointed the Review did not see fit to take special note of Jewish New Year 5769 that occurred this past week. The cultural, religious, culinary and other aspects are of importance across many groups.

A small but extremely active Congregation Kol Shalom on Bainbridge Island not only treats the religious and cultural needs of its membership but is a steady and generous contributor to the community at large in terms of philanthropy and in other ways.

The holiday is part of the Ten Days of Awe culminating with the fast of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement when Jews the world over take time for intensive introspection of their lives.

It might have been nice for some small acknowledgment of this very special occasion by the medium that covers the community.

Joseph J. Honick

Olympus Beach Road

Bailout

Give us all $1 million

If the problem is the failure in the mortgage sector – there are 305 million people in America – give each one a million dollars and let them pay their debt off. That should resolve the problem I would think

Barry K. Cross

Lynwood Center Road

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