Your letters: September 2017

Readers write back.

Mr. Mayor, indeed

“When I was a young staffer at the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro) in the late 1980s, my manager decided that I was the right person to brief the Metro Council about the financial impact of a project gone wrong. In that meeting room full of scowling elected county and city officials, I must have faltered. Looking down at those seated a few feet away, only Norm Rice (Mr. Mayor, June) was smiling and nodding at me as if to say, ‘Go on, you’re doing fine.’ I’ll never forget that bit of respect and encouragement. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

—Peggy Crawford Leonard, ’82, Sedona, Arizona

Community college 

“Sorry to burst Dave Ramstad’s bubble (Readers, June), but Centralia College is the oldest in Washington, founded in 1925. Everett Community College is much younger.”

—Marian Osterby, ’65, ’67, Centralia

“Yakima Valley College was started by the school district in the 1920s and Wenatchee Valley College was started in 1939 by private donors. I don’t know if they specifically defined themselves as ‘junior colleges,’ even though they may have operated in such a capacity.”

—Greg Dziekonski, ’85, ’89, ’94, Shoreline

Corraling horsetail 

“Campus gardener Kandis Byrd (Character, June) implied that she had no method to control horsetail. I, too, have much horsetail on my city lot. I have tried Roundup, Crossbow, etc., only to see four to five new shoots for each I sprayed. Then I learned of MCPA—the same herbicide used by cocoa farmers in Africa for weed control. Horsetail has deep roots but MCPA attacked deep. Yes, I have to apply it two to four times each spring and summer but at last MCPA takes the fight to horsetail.”

—Dr. Don Fell, ’72, ’76, Astoria, Oregon

Mighty Mountaineers 

“Thanks to Hannelore Sudermann for the nice article on mountaineering in Washington’s wilderness (Mountaineers, June) and the connection to the UW. It should be noted that it is not ‘a’ North Cascades Conservation Council but ‘The’ North Cascades Conservation Council. We’re still alive and well, and very much connected to the UW, especially considering that the president and one board member of the N3C are currently employed at the University. By the way, nice photo of Joan Burton—I told her that her smile hasn’t changed over the decades!”

—Tom Hammond, ’89, President, North Cascades Conservation Council

“The lead picture on pages 24-25 shows how crazy and tough people had to be to ‘climb’ in that era. The women in their dresses, shoes and sun hats is amazing. I wonder if they had spikes in their shoes?”

—Steve Washburn, Columns Online

A terrible toll 

“Can you see a connection between the prison article (Imprisoned, June) and the article on microaggressions (Micro-Damaging, June)? We will never know the terrible toll ‘ … indirect, subtle discrimination against a marginalized group and being on the receiving end of it can make your blood boil.’ With proof from communication professor John Crowley’s blood test that looks for biological markers of immune health, we will have more facts. What will happen then? Studies have shown the value of Head Start but our governments—local, state and federal—don’t provide Head Start for all children. Smaller classes make a tremendous difference but our governments can’t afford them, either. Lastly, many persons die because of no health care or inadequate health care, yet governments say they can’t afford health care for everyone. Why should I be hopeful? As I write this letter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is determined to reduce oversight of policing, return to draconian sentencing, and continue relying on the privatization of prisons. Think of all the persons who now suffer the results of ‘overt discrimination’ and ‘microaggression.’ This harms all of us.

—Georgia S. McDade, ’87, Seattle

“It is great to see this book. We need hard data on this terrible situation. Like the ‘State Hwy speed trap’ system of paying for police in the tiny town where I grew up, the fees and fines system used by most jails and prisons in the U.S. places courts and corrections in the position of depending on the commission of crimes for their paychecks and overhead. This has always struck me as pretty backwards. And the situation is getting more horrific with the ever expanding use of private companies to run state prisons. All of this, of course, does not even start to address the fact that these fees and fines essentially make ALL incarceration a form of debtors’ prison in this country. A country that has, as a founding principle, the abolishment of such institutions. Now what are we going to do about it?”

—Meghan Lancaster, Columns Online