Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: March 26, 2008

FW traffic solutions hit gridlock

Bob Roegner’s comments were interesting about red light cameras (“Simon says stop...at city’s red lights,” March 19).

I wasn’t certain if he wants cameras or perhaps is trying something different like novel signs before you get to the intersection. (i.e: “Stop... do not pass Go. Pay $200,” or “Stop...The fender you bend might be your own,” etc.)

Good thoughts, Bob! Rest assured, our local council members will obviously favor cameras. How else can they get a raise and hire more employees for local government jobs? Look at Auburn, Lakewood, Seattle and Lynnwood.

Lynnwood and Seattle are installing more cameras. It’s a “no-brainer” money raiser. It’s cheap. No cost to the city. The third-party contractor installs and maintains the cameras for a percentage. Oops, I forgot! The city needs to provide a small room and another cop to watch the pictures on who should or should not receive the ticket.

Do cameras stop accidents? I think not! They create money for local government. Perhaps we should re-examine getting more to the root of the problem. Short of hiring new traffic controllers from L.A., try updating signal controls and better flow traffic light coordination. Maybe longer delay yellow lights. Dependent on one’s speed to the intersection, yellow lights turn red before someone in hurry just forces the issue and runs the light. Think about installing those flashing speed lights before each intersection. Flash warning signs advising the speeder that it is going to be too late to stop at the light — unless they slow down.

Bottom line: Let’s really think about hiring some traffic professionals with better ideas from really big cities in helping to solve our little growing city’s traffic problems.

Neil Corbin, Federal Way

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Truth about community involvement

Chris Carrel makes a very poignant point regarding those who choose to toss stones at the city, rather than work within the system. In his March 22 column, he states: “The truth is that the community isn’t run like some old-fashioned political machine; it’s built, like a house. And the people who show up for the work will shape what that house looks like.”

This statement can be applied to any organization, be it a school district, a city or a state. If you want to be part of a positive change, then get involved with the organization. Not just peripherally involved, but really commit your time. Promote (or become) a viable candidate for the system/organization you wish to affect change. Drive-by sniping, either at issues or at specific individuals, does nothing to better the situation.

Thanks, Chris, for stating the obvious. How we progress as a community is based largely on how we work together and collectively contribute to its function.

Larry Paterson, Federal Way

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Some people finally get tired of trying

I must first state my huge admiration for Chris Carrel and his excellent attitude and writing skills, which I eagerly await in every one of his columns.

However, I take gentle exception to his “old boys network” column March 22. In his usual clever and entertaining way, he lists all the ways citizens of Federal Way can put up or shut up by volunteering, getting involved, attending meetings, etc., labeling those who don’t as the loudly harping and yelling, perpetually dissatisfied individuals who at best achieve disruption.

The involved views have obviously been acquired by association with and support of the status quo group, but such an idealistic, somewhat uninformed and completely unfair opinion has been passed on, and I hardly know where to start. The people referenced so poorly were involved people who, in the past, have been active and interested “rule” followers that, after years of trying to assure citizen input be considered, finally simply quit trying.

For instance (and only because I have been labeled totally uninvolved in my community), I am a Golden Acorn Award winner for my volunteering in and support of our schools — not easily achieved, I might add. My name is on a brass plaque in my church vestibule as a founding member, and I volunteered as principal and teacher there as well. I and two friends were responsible for starting Cub Scouts in unincorporated Federal Way. I belonged to umpteen guilds, activity and sports clubs, etc., and others were far more active than I.

Many of us attended many council meetings and more, gave ignored input, and submitted many documents to be read into the record by the city clerk when we couldn’t attend. Pretty soon, people just give up.

Mr. Carrel is correct that hundreds of good people volunteer and are deeply involved for the betterment of our city. And, God bless them one and all. However, that is not the problem nor the target of the Accountability Comes to Town (ACT) group.

The seemingly unassailable, small power structure within the city council, including former council persons who make all decisions regardless of the will of the majority because as they put it, their judgement is far better than the majority rules factor — they have been the sole target of the people who voted for a strong mayor. Their decisions are, seemingly, arrived at with the quid pro quo (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), which is also likely how the mayorship-scratch is kept within the power group.

We’re told that if you don’t like it, they are un-electable, so un-elect them. What a clever and smarmy cop-out phrase that is. One political columnist hit the nail on the head when he said the problem there is that you have to un-elect a particular four people all at the same time to break their hold, which is statistically impossible, as they well know. Combine that with the strong support of The Mirror and the unbelievable stance of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, and any opposition might as well be tilting at windmills. Though the Chamber supported the council’s status quo position, they didn’t like the status quo, and now that the election is over, are going to work for their own change. Just how convoluted is that?

No, citizens who see the need for checks and balances in Federal Way government are not waging war, and as one former council person was heard to say, “It’s civil war.”

It’s democracy at work, or at least trying to work. And, those concerned would be wise to remember, it took four votes to incorporate Federal Way and, sure enough, we’re incorporated, aren’t we?

Clara McArthur, Federal Way

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Elections foster resentment

Back in horse and buggy days when a person might “go to town” only two or three times a year because of muddy or frozen or rutty roads, it made sense to pick one person who would go to town and cast your vote for you.

Of course, they were supposed to vote the way you told them to and not let somebody else talk them into changing your vote through them.

I suppose that was the way our complicated system of surrogate voting came about. Good news everybody: It is no longer necessary.

With our whiz-bang super fast electronic communication systems in place, everybody’s personal vote can be counted. Who needs the electoral college? Some of whom, we suspect, may be bribed or otherwise manipulated into voting in ways we did not anticipate or sanction. The popular vote can be and is properly counted and available for use. Why don’t we just dump the expensive cumbersome electoral college and go with the vote of the people? It would be pretty tough to buy off or sway the individual vote. That might be one of the reasons politicians are not wild about the idea of letting the popular vote rule.

While on the subject of elections, I am one of the disgruntled voters who really resents being told I must register with a party in order to vote. We are supposed to have freedom of choice. What happened to that concept?

Hurray for Initiative 26! Can I sign until my hand drops off?

Marjorie Seavers, Federal Way

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