Letters to the Editor

Tough to 'buy local' when shops close early | Federal Way Letters to the Editor

Stores close too early in Federal Way

Federal Way Chamber CEO Tom Pierson’s encouragement to “buy local” (June 25) is really hard to do when Federal Way merchants don’t stay open long enough for residents to get home from work.

I am committed to buying in Federal Way to support my community — three times in the last few months I have passed up doing business in Tacoma where I work only to arrive in Federal Way to closed stores. In one situation, it was a shoe store that closed at 6 p.m. — I pulled into the parking space right in front of the door a couple of minutes before 6 p.m. and saw the clerk get up from behind the counter, come to the door and lock it right in front of me.

Another time it was a car wash that closed at 6 p.m., but when I rushed home to get there it was to learn they had let the staff go home at 4:30 p.m.

And a third time, it was to purchase travel items at a specialty travel store that turned out closing at 5:30 p.m. I can purchase in Tacoma or online, and I pass a car wash in Tacoma every night coming home from work. I want to buy local — but the Federal Way Chamber needs to work with its businesses to get creative in having some hours for workers coming home while still letting the businesses meet their needs — perhaps at least a couple of days a month (such as the first and fourth Wednesday, or such) could be identified to stay open until 7 or 8 p.m.?

If they want residents to buy local, please consider how many work elsewhere and come home during that 5:30 to 7 p.m. timeframe and find a way to help us buy local.

Proud to live here – would like to do business here too!

Judy L. Harmon,

Federal Way

Fireworks ban is a big joke

Chris Carrel is right — the fireworks ban isn’t working (“Fight fireworks with an aerial super soaker,” July 5).

The police and fire departments know it, which is probably why I’ve never once seen it enforced, despite the nice shows that go on in my neighborhood every year. The city government knows it. The citizens in every part of the city know it. The Mars Lander probably knows it.

So why then is there an insistence on standing behind a law with the effective authority of a shield of tissue paper? If a law cannot and realistically will not be enforced, what is the point of having it at all? Its only dubious accomplishment is to lower the respect for law in general, and for those who put the law into effect.

Why don’t our city leaders come up with a solution that can have a positive effect on public safety, in exchange for one that does no good and makes them look like a joke every summer? These “zero tolerance” polices really should be renamed to “zero imagination” or “zero intelligence.” It seems ludicrous to think that a $40 device that sends showers of sparks and goes “BOOM” carries the same amount of inherent risk as a box of party poppers or a little green smoke ball. Why then are they treated the same from a legal perspective?

When a child asks why we are allowed to purchase fireworks in the city that they won’t allow us to use here, I have to wonder why the city leaders continue to allow such a contradiction. Change the laws to allow reasonable use in reasonable situations, and reasonable people will follow them.

Here’s how I would like next year’s law to read:

“Sale and use of fireworks that fly, explode or are bigger than a certain size are illegal. Below that threshold (i.e. party poppers, things that make sparks or smoke only), it’s OK to use, provided that you follow the common sense instructions on how and where to do so safely (i.e. driveway OK, lawn not OK, adult supervision, bucket of water nearby, etc.).”

That’s it, plus the inevitable legalese.

If people want to use bigger stuff, why not do what society does already for some other fun but risky behaviors — skateboarding and race car driving — give them a few safe places around the city temporarily set aside for that purpose? Open it up July 2, 3 and 4, have the Boy Scouts help prepare the sites, supervise them with fire and safety officials to keep the really irresponsible from hurting themselves and others, and unless a device would violate other existing laws (i.e. military explosives, dynamite sticks, etc.), grant exemption to the rest of the law for the use of otherwise illegal fireworks while there.

Help people have fun and celebrate safely rather than assuming, as the present law does, that we’re all too stupid and irresponsible to do so in any way whatsoever.

Yes, fireworks can be dangerous, even when used responsibly. And I understand the city’s risk-averse nature being reflected in the current total ban. But a lot of things that are not banned (at least not yet) are also dangerous, and no set of laws can remove all risk from life without removing the purpose for life. Let’s replace a law that treats us all like children with one that recognizes that the city’s role in reducing personal risk has practical limits. A law that partners with citizens to balance the legitimate desire to celebrate our nation’s birth with the need to do so responsibly. A law that restores some respect for our city leadership that I would like to think is deserved.

Rick Cook,

Federal Way

Another way to extinguish fireworks

Chris Carrel’s article (July 5) on bombing the fireworks scofflaws with water balloons from a helicopter would be fun.

Unfortunately, this would be breaking the law and we would all be in jail. The firebugs would still be busy creating havoc in the sky, burning up things and/or hurting themselves.

This Fourth of July, as in years past, indirectly started with fireworks shooting two weeks before July 4 and will no doubt continue for another two or three weeks. This year was somewhat different, however. We felt like we were in a real war zone around our neighborhood. The sky bursts and major explosions shook our house until the wee hours of the morning. Our dogs were panting and glassy-eyed, and jumped into bed under the covers for safety. We thought for certain the poor things would not last the night.

The good news: We all woke up Saturday morning and everything was calm and quiet. The dogs were wagging their tails and we were one happy family again until — until after 7 p.m. The fireworks started all over again. Once again, we had to endure the sky bursts and the really giant explosions until early morning. These are professional fireworks, folks — now in the hands of the public.

I remember my adolescent years and shooting off firecrackers. In those days, we had sparklers, mini-firecrackers, regular firecrackers, cherry bombs and a few bottle rockets.

The loudest illegal fireworks at that time were M-80s. We used to watch in awe: The real pyrotechnic people working the Ivar’s barge in Elliott Bay and other areas.

The days of shooting off our own fireworks were short-lived. My friends and I grew up rather quickly after one of my friends almost blew off his hand. We came to realize that fireworks created major fires and serious human injuries. We did not, at the time, understand the great public expense in all this.

My wife and I yesterday were trying to understand the current reason for fireworks at Celebration Park. The original concept, we agreed, was for families and responsible others to enjoy “one” great safe and sane evening.

Currently, it really appears somewhat irrelevant why Federal Way would want to spend huge sums of money on fireworks? It seems that one can see huge home-oriented fireworks and drop in for a good time at any redneck beer blast somewhere right in your neighborhood. Or drive within 8 miles any direction to a Indian reservation of your choice for a great fireworks experience.

We and other responsible neighbors currently need to stay home on July 4 to comfort our pets and have garden hoses handy to protect our roofs and property from fire. Our neighborhood is left every morning with a huge mess. Unfortunately, it does not stop there. The Indian reservations continue to sell fireworks for weeks after July 4.

Why not shut down the source of the problem? After all, statistics on fireworks report more than 1,000 fires and serious personal injures annually. This — at a cost of thousands in taxpayers’ dollars!

We can’t shut down the source of the fireworks at the Indian reservations. The loss of revenue and jobs would be disturbing. The federal and state government would step in. Yes this is true; we really do protect the Indian nations. To prove how generous our state is, Gov. Chris Gregoire rejected any notion to collect sales tax revenue from our state’s Indian casinos. The “Gov” of course does not believe in Washington state receiving tax monies from gambling dollars. In order to show good faith of course, the casinos all chipped in for the governor’s re-election. Maybe this is a good thing to a lot of people and we should take the next step in this money giveaway to solve the fireworks problem.

Here’s the deal: We currently give the Indian casinos a lot of backdoor money and other advantages. So let’s take this situation a step further. Let’s gift the tribes directly with state funds — say $5 million or $6 million — not to sell fireworks.

This could be a “novel” idea. Our fireworks problem will go away. The police and fire department budgets would be slashed. The insurance companies would be thrilled — and it is a “win-win” deal for everyone.

Neil Corbin,

Federal Way

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