Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Jan. 19, 2008

Support our schools

Vote yes on Feb. 19 to pass the Federal Way Public Schools replacement levy.

Our school district has proven over the years to be an excellent steward of our tax dollars. There is no school district in King County that spends a greater percentage of its budget on teaching and teaching support than our Federal Way schools. In addition, only one school district in King County spends less on administrative costs.

Our local levy buys additional teachers and para-educators, pays for the athletic and activity program, and allows our district to offer programs for our students such as AVID, the International Baccalaureate Program at Thomas Jefferson, the Cambridge Program at Federal Way High, the Advanced Placement preparation program called Springboard, and the Algebraic Thinking Program at all middle schools.

Those who participate in chess or debate or DECA or FBLA or music are all engaged because of the dollars provided by our local levy. Our community, and our nation, needs young people to develop the skills of teamwork, cooperation, collaboration, leadership and humility that are all essential elements of these programs.

In addition, our local levy allows students to take six classes in high school instead of five, provides a $3 million subsidy to student transportation, a $5.5 million subsidy to the programs for students with special needs, and at least a $500,000 subsidy to students who need English language support.

Despite being one of the lowest funded school districts in our state, our students outperform their counterparts in South King County on almost every measurement of achievement.

This replacement levy was last approved in 2004, and our school district has kept the tax rate promise made at that time. This replacement levy promises to not increase our current tax rate. I believe that promise and will be voting yes on Feb. 19. I urge all residents to do the same.

Thomas Madden, Federal Way resident and school board member

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Perils of panhandling

The saddest part about the Jan. 12 article “The perils of panhandling” is the pictures perceiving panhandling to be only white males who have a drug or alcohol problem.

Yes, that is the stereotype some people have of what a homeless person looks like, but there are women, young families, couples and children who are panhandling.

I don’t quite understand why Mayor Jack Dovey calls panhandling a “public safety issue with traffic.” Panhandling is a

problem that shows how desperate people have become to just survive. Mayor Dovey should be asking why there is an increase in the number of panhandlers in Federal Way, and how do I help these people get back on their feet?

As foreclosures increase and the recession continues to grow, there are going to be more homeless people. Poverty is a problem in Federal Way. Tom Murphy, superintendent of Federal Way schools, pointed out in his annual state of the school district address that nearly 50 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Energy and food prices are on the rise, but salaries are not keeping up with these increases. There are many families who are just on the edge of being homeless.

This amendment only shows that Mayor Dovey and the Parks, Recreation, Human Services and Public Safety Committee don’t want to deal with homelessness. They just want to hide the homeless problem. If you don’t see homeless people, then there is no homeless problem. Giving them citations and throwing them in jail is not going to solve the problem.

Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. We need to face this problem and help our fellow man, woman and child get back on their feet. Hopefully, the Federal Way City Council will be proactive and not reactive.

Paul Cooper III, Auburn

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Helping the homeless

In response to the article “The perils of panhandling” (Jan. 12):

What if we approached panhandling from another perspective? What if we provided a “boot camp” for the homeless to help them understand that they could overcome their situation?

We’ve all heard the expression “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” What if we offer the homeless a safe environment and help them renew their minds to something other than begging? What if we teach them something new, or at least new to them?

What if we show them the truths about the attractor factor? We are familiar with the saying “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” We attract what we think about, whether negative or positive. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Maybe they have never seen the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith. This is a true story about Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman struggling to build a future for himself and his son. They spent time on the street, even sleeping in public restrooms. What if we provided a safe place for them to read books, listen to CDs, and/or watch DVDs, etc., that showed the homeless that others had overcome their setbacks and they could too? What if we coached and encouraged them? What if this was available 24/7? What if they realized “if they could do it, I can do it?”

What if Federal Way started a program to help the homeless rather than enforcing the law or driving them out? What if we got out of our comfort zone and reached out to help these folks? Not just giving them a handout, but giving them a helping hand.

What if Federal Way were known as the city that cares? What if Federal Way had a Dream Center like Los Angeles has? What if we provided an opportunity for the homeless to discover their gifts and talents and encouraged them to pursue their dreams?

What overcoming stories could be written about their successes? What “chicken soup” type books could be written and shared with others to encourage them?

That’s what I see. Who else sees what I see?

Charlotte Jennings, Federal Way

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Support the troops by protesting

This article is to state there is not “cliché” that exists from our group, locally, in “supporting the troops” and to write in opposition, combatting much of what we are insulted by in the article by Angie Vogt from Dec. 29 (“U.S. soldiers witness another side of peace”).

We are up to the task of caring and being very concerned about peace and freedom. We are no sissies! Among us is a local veteran of two combat tours in Iraq who is an outspoken opponent to the occupation. In addition, there is another veteran with eight years of service.

We support the troops through praying for them, writing letters to them, visiting the hospital, showing each one care and love, contacting representatives and senators to call for an end to the war, supporting veterans organizations, showing support by participating in the Veterans Day parade, carrying signs, and organizing locally as well as nationally.

This is only part of what we do in supporting troops. All across America, supporters are sending care packages.

And to Vogt, we agree, we cannot have “peace on Earth” if we are fighting more than one country at a time. We can have peace by exiting Iraq. It is not our war; let the Iraqis stand up and defend their own. Let us defend our own borders and shores. Let us strengthen and empower our homeland security defenses. Let those who have responsibility and charge to enact and enforce those laws — defend America, not Iraq!

There were not, nor are there now, any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as we are all aware. Neither is there a Saddam Hussein and sons to terrorize and cause tyranny. It’s not our war!

We use the U.S. Constitution lawfully, not as President Bush does in his breach by ordering and maintaining this war. The soldiers may not be asking for support, other than for proper and safe gear and equipment that President Bush and his administration did not furnish them — until there were outcries for modern and much-needed equipment.

It is our country’s Commander in Chief’s personal vision and actions to take over the Middle East that has demonstrators hitting the sidewalks and corners of America. We are trying to put an end to the killings, amputees, the paralyzed and orphaned along with the left-behind widows and widowers because of a war that is not ours to be involved with. Among us, we have an Iraq war veteran officer who commanded troops in battle.

We could have avoided the shortage of troops by enlisting larger numbers instead of mandatory redeployment of three and four rotations with short stays at home. We are separating families, causing divorces, leaving homes fatherless and/or motherless. This is a shameful embarrassment of humiliation causing a consciousness of pain bared by our troops and their families.

The real shame will be that we cannot win this war. I might ask, “What is your definition of winning?” Remember in 2003, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of a battleship, in flight uniform, declaring victory. Yes, I agree, we have been victorious in what we had set out to do. That should have been the end of this war.

We owe it to our troops now to save them by bringing them home.

We invite you, and bring a friend or a neighbor, to show your support for our troops and rally an end to the war. If you wish, make your own sign, or we have plenty of extras at the corner of South 320th Street and Pacific Highway. We’ll be there from noon to 1 p.m. Sundays.

Let’s get together and show solidarity. It’s all peaceful.

Carroll C. Fisher, Federal Way

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