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Letters to the Editor - June 3, 2013

  • Written by Readers

Letter sent to Woodinville City Councilmember Liz Aspen
 

I am sorry to hear that the Woodinville City Council voted to approve cameras in downtown Woodinville. 

According to the polls, the majority of people polled disapproved of the cameras and the money could be better spent on other things.  It sounds as if the council has another agenda that does not involve listening to the people they represent.
 

I will have to take my business in downtown Woodinville elsewhere to a city that doesn’t spy on their community “in the name of safety.” Cameras do not stop crime. We need to find other ways to deter crime. This is just the lazy way to do it.
 

I will be contacting Massage Envy, TJ Maxx, Top Foods, Office Max, Jamba Juice, InSpa, Starbucks, Petsmart, the post office, Aaron Bros, BECU, Albertsons, Target, Regis, AMC Loews, Molbak’s and McLendon and let them know I will be taking my business elsewhere with the decision the council made.  These are all establishments that my family and I frequent almost daily.
 

And when the election comes up again it is way past time for a change in Woodinville.
Susan Milke, Woodinville

Armed with antibiotics, throat lozenges and tissues, I left my sick room to attend the May 21 Woodinville City Council meeting as they were discussing an issue of vital importance: the government use of video cameras in public spaces. Woodinville’s online survey resulted in a rejection of this idea by 56 percent  of Woodinville respondents yet five of the six members present voted to move forward with implementation. 

Regretfully, we know from the current IRS scandal what happens when personal or private information gets into government hands. Several council members shared personal stories about the use of cameras on private property. 

I wholeheartedly support the right of homeowners or business owners to use surveillance cameras or other legal means to protect their private property. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a branch of government that will have a video archive of what its citizens did, where they did it, when they did it and who they did it with.  Of course, this information will not be limited to only the current government and public safety officials, but those that may come after.  As a matter of fact, with a simple Public Information Request, anyone can have access to these videos. That includes felons that may like to see a pattern of traffic into a business, pedophiles that want to watch young teens hang out in front of the ice cream shop or a disgruntled boyfriend that wants to find out when his “ex” visits her favorite coffee shop. One member that avowed principled objection was Mayor Bernie Talmas. He didn’t waffle or equivocate. He stood clearly against government intrusion into personal privacy. As I watched the other members of the council each say in their own turn: “I believe in privacy but …”, I was reminded of the saying engraved in the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  I hope the citizens of Woodinville let the council know that they are not willing to give up their liberty.
Ann Streit, Woodinville

The following statement from NSD communications staff Leanna Albrecht in the article “NSD Considering Schedule Changes” on May 21 is incorrect:  “Albrecht said parent representatives met with school staff to discuss starting high school later, but mutually agreed to stop discussions once the proposed cost of transportation for the later start exceeded $200,000 to $300,000.”
 

Representatives from PALS (Parent Advocates for a Later Start) met with the superintendent and NSD Board members last June to discuss later start times, as well as NSD transportation staff last July to run later start scenarios.  The representatives DID NOT mutually agree to stop discussions once the proposed cost of transportation for the later start exceeded $200,000 to $300,000 as Albrecht stated.  
 

Rather, the mutual agreement was as follows:
 

Transportation staff would run a scenario in their software program for a 20 minute later high school start, a 15 minute later junior high start, with minimal adjustments to the elementary start times. It was also mutually agreed between NSD staff and the PALS representatives that documentation (printouts from the software, cost analysis, etc.) would be provided for all scenarios.  To date, PALS have not received this documentation despite the fact they have requested it several times. Rather, they have only received an email stating that the above scenarios would exceed $300,000 to implement (with no actual documentation attached).  Before this, in a March 2012 meeting between NSD staff and PALS representatives, a cost of $45,000 was quoted for a scenario to shift all secondary and elementary start times ahead 15 minutes.  A year later a very similar scenario will “exceed $300,000.”
 

PALS is printing this correction so that the 1600 + Later Start supporters (from an online petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/northshore-school-board-start-high-school-later?share_id=kqhGNQKOEM&pe=d2e) will not be misled by the miscommunication from NSD. There has never been a mutual agreement to stop discussions; in fact the Later Start campaign is growing each and every day and discussions are continuing.  PALS representatives have documentation of the above agreement.
 If you support a Later Start time, please sign the above petition, and email the superintendent and the school board:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Larry Francois
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Julia Lacey
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Janet Quinn
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Dawn McCravey
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - Sandy Hayes
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -Todd Banks
PALS  - Parents Advocates for a Later Start

Once again the school district is trying to make changes to our children’s schedule that will adversely affect our kids without including parents and community members in the decision-making process.  At issue this time is the district’s decision to shorten the school week by turning one day a week into a half day. We, the parents, were NOT consulted.  It was rudely presented to us as a fait accompli, or as school board director Quinn so happily announced, “a done deal.”   
 

A survey purporting to seek community opinion on which day we would rather have as a half day, (the union wants Friday, so Friday it shall be), was sent to parents, but it is deliberately skewed, and only one response per household is allowed. If you have more than one adult, and only one computer in your home, only one voice will be “heard.” If both adults respond from the same computer, Superintendent Francois may decide to throw out both responses, decrying your voice as a “cheat.”  This is unacceptable.
 

It isn’t simply parents and community members who are upset about the half days: teachers and principals have also voiced disapproval of the decision that the district is forcing upon them.  Teachers need our support!  I encourage parents to talk to their teachers and encourage them to vote “NO!” on any contract that includes the weekly half-day off for students. Our children deserve MORE educational time, not less. Most teachers understand this, and need your support and encouragement to stand up to the district. Just say “NO!” to half days, and “YES!” to kids!
R.E. Miller, Woodinville

The survey is closed and yet the NSEA is  still negotiating!
 

So, why wasn’t the community asked whether we wanted any of these changes, rather than just our opinion on a 2-hour early/late release? I also understand that most of the teachers only knew about this at the same time as the parents! This all seems like it is being rushed; why is that? As the survey asked for comments I hope that the district will provide them to us as well as the costs involved with all these changes.
A Whelan, Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - May 13, 2013

  • Written by Readers

A HAMPER FULL OF LAUNDRY AND A GROCERY BAG
Two common household items that seem easy enough to empty or fill. Easy enough for people who don’t need long-term services and supports.
As a home care aide, I provide vital services for seniors and people with disabilities – people whose laundry requires special treatments and whose dietary needs can’t rely on whim, but require careful planning.
The current State Senate budget proposal for the 2013 to 2015 biennium would cut funding for home care services including laundry and shopping.  
 

Some lawmakers believe – wrongly – that volunteers will come fill in to help my clients do their laundry and will drive them more than 45 minutes to pick up groceries or medications.  Home care clients have already lost an average of 15 percent of their home care hours through arbitrary budget cuts. More cuts to hours are penny wise and pound foolish because they will cause vulnerable seniors to go to more expensive settings like nursing homes.
 

If caregivers don’t caregivers don’t do laundry, shopping, or provide vital home care services, thousands of vulnerable Washington residents will have rubbish pile up, laundry overflow and cupboards go bare.
Under the Senate plan, big corporations and special interests get priority over vulnerable adults though costly tax breaks.
 

There’s a better approach. Eliminate tax loopholes and use the money instead to help seniors and people with disabilities.
 

Richard Ross, Kirkland

DONATE, REUSE, RECYCLE
 

Waste Management North Sound has over 250 employees who are committed to creating sustainable communities.
 

Our mission is to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Our goal is to be part of the solution to the problems that sparked the original idea for Earth Day, and while that is a 365-day-per-year job, Earth Day is a good reminder of our commitment.  
In honor of Earth Day which was April 22, Waste Management (WM) of North Sound would like to share a few helpful recycling tips for residents and businesses in Woodinville.
 

 These few simple changes can go a long way in helping to do our part in preserving the planet all year long:   
• Recycle paper and packaging: It’s an easy way to do your part.
• Compost food scraps and kitchen waste: Set-up your own backyard compost or utilize your food/yard waste services.  
• Don’t forget about e-waste: Computers, electronics, batteries and light bulbs are all recyclable today. To find out where and how, check out online resources including King County website and Waste Management’s Lamptracker.
• Donate, reuse and recycle items before throwing them into the garbage
• Harmful materials like chemicals, batteries, electronics should be taken to local hazardous waste depots or recyclers.
 

Jeff McMahon, District ManagerWaste Management-North Sound, Woodinville

Guest Editorial - Light a Fire for Learning

  • Written by Larry Francois, Northshore School District superintendent
On March 28, over 300 supporters of public education gathered at the Northshore Schools Foundation’s “Light A Fire For Learning” luncheon and raised over $120,000 to support students and teachers across our district. As an all-time high fundraising total for the luncheon—one of two major annual fundraising events for the foundation—these funds will go a long way towards fulfilling the foundation’s mission of “Making An Impact, Everyday.”

Since 1995, the Northshore Schools Foundation has partnered with the district to support, enhance and extend learning opportunities for our students and staff. Through investments in innovative classroom grants, teacher excellence, new curriculum, extended learning opportunities and, most recently, strategic investments in S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, the foundation positively impacts tens of thousands of Northshore students multiple times throughout their school career.

The foundation has built relationships with over 65 regional companies and partners that contribute generously to their mission and initiatives. But the backbone of the foundation is the hundreds of community members, parents, staff and kids who give of their passion, energy and resources. From the volunteer board of directors, to the students who inspire and entertain at events like the luncheon, to the parents and community members who answer the call to give, the foundation’s strength comes from the collective and shared commitment of those personally invested in a world-class education for the young people of our community. Northshore is rightly recognized as one of the top school districts in Washington state and across the nation. Organizations like the Northshore Schools Foundation play a key role working with the district to make that happen.

If you are not already a part of the foundation’s network of supporters, I encourage you to learn more and get involved. A good place to start would be visiting the foundation’s website: www.Northshore SchoolsFoundation.org.

Letters to the Editor - April 29, 2013

  • Written by Readers

On April 19, Neighbors to Save Wellington Park filed a complaint in Superior Court challenging the proposed development of the Wellington Hills Park and citing the Land Use Protection Act (LUPA). The City of Woodinville filed a similar appeal in Superior Court.

In a recent Herald article about the appeals, the parks director claims that “the public has been actively involved in the process throughout” and says that the Parks Department “will continue to work with the neighbors on shaping plans.”  Don’t believe him. The public has been ignored and shut out of the planning process for Wellington Hills Park from the beginning, even though the Brightwater agreement, that provided funds to build a new park, required input from the community.

Decisions about the new park design were made well before the first public meeting; the only parties who had real input in the design process were special interest groups.

Once the design was presented to the public in May 2012, numerous objections have been voiced by community members, but  no substantive changes to the design were made to reflect their concerns.

We have asked the Parks Department at every opportunity to scale back the design: fewer fields, no lights for night games, and concentrate on the type of amenities people will use and enjoy.

The current park site doesn’t provide enough amenities to keep people enjoying the open space in the ways that our favorite parks do. If the Parks Department had bothered to actually change their design to fit the site and our community, we wouldn’t have to wage such a battle. It’s unfortunate that our message to please build us a community park has gotten lost.

We had to file an appeal to be heard, and to stop a design that violates Washington land use law. The Parks Department needs to scrap its master plan for a commercial sports complex and start working with us to design a park that fits its surroundings

Tina Stewart,  Woodinville

Letters to the Editor - April 29, 2013

  • Written by Readers

I was very surprised when I read the April 8th Letters to the Editor. All us 5th graders were very upset to hear that someone thought we had been forced on our positions because of the very advanced vocabulary we had in our letters. My father even disagreed with my position! I hope you know that we are very active in our writing and take it as a compliment that you think we couldn’t have written it.  I’d like to thank you for voicing your opinion and telling us what you thought of our letters.

Sarah Hickey, 5th grader at Wellington


In response to Dennis Dearing’s letter to the Editor published April 8, 2013:

To my students’ credit, they came to their own conclusions without coercion by their parents or teacher.

Educators seek opportunities to connect their classroom lessons to their students’ world so learning is authentic and personally applicable. In a unit about persuasive letter writing, what could be better than a chance for students to research a local topic that affects them and provides a real way for their young voices to be heard by their community?

The students took personal interest in the issue of the Wellington Hills County Park, near which many of them live. Over a period of several months, each student thoroughly researched the park’s design features. They read articles written by those for and against the park. As a result of that work, they formed their own strong opinions.

By researching a topic thoroughly and using well-documented facts, logic, reasoning and powerful words to persuade others, they learned lessons that will serve them as they progress in their classroom education and beyond. They also gained the experience of allowing their individual voices to be heard in a public forum. These young community members boldly risked putting their voices out into a public (mostly adult) audience —many for the first time. Some of their parents disagreed with their child’s opinion, but felt it worthwhile to give their child permission to publicly voice their own opinion. I hope these students will remember these lessons well.

They will also remember the unintentional lesson of being misunderstood and misrepresented. I’m encouraging my students to take what was not intended as a compliment and think of it as a tribute to their efforts. When children write so persuasively, using their own dynamic vocabulary and passionate voices, that they are perceived as having been coerced into their views, that is very high praise indeed. I hope they will continue to learn to use their voices, vocabulary and passion in ways that will shape their world and ours.

Well done, students, well done!

Karen Zehm, 5th grade teacher, Wellington Elementary


What’s so wrong about a Value Village? Surely it’s not the storefront; it looks like any other store in that strip mall. It’s not ugly; it’s better than an empty storefront and it’s not even in the Woodinville downtown. It seems to come down to the store’s offerings: low-price items.

Apparently, affordable stores and the people who shop at them just aren’t part of our vision for Woodinville. Instead, our vision is about exclusion. It’s clear that not all residents live in expensive houses, especially since 16.7 percent of district students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Still, we ignore the economic needs of low-income individuals. Still, we insist on making our city more expensive under the guise of “beautification.” Why do we act like our rich residents are the only people who matter?

Taking issue with Value Village and concerning ourselves with “sprucing up our city” sends the message that low-income residents don’t belong and, in fact, are making the city uglier.

If we really want to spruce up our city, I would start by adopting a more inclusive attitude. Until then, I will not be proud of Woodinville.

Celina Gunnarsson, Woodinville

 

... As many remember,  the old Northshore School District administration center was located in the Ricketts building in downtown Bothell.  The Ricketts facility was originally an elementary school constructed in 1948.  As the district grew, this building no longer met our needs and was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.

In 2002 the school board asked voters to approve a $12.5 million bond for a new administration facility.  Once approved, the Board received reports on possible locations, vacant land and building design. Construction and land costs came in at $18 million, above what voters approved. Then the Monte Villa property became available: large facility, ample parking, centrally located.  This 6-year-old property had originally been built for $17.5 million.  The district was able to purchase it for $6.4 million, well below its original value and well below what voters had originally approved.

It is a beautiful building, which includes many “extras” we would not have approved on a new construction. This deal was definitely a win for our schools and community.

As co-chair of the 2014 levy/bond committee, I hope this purchase serves as an example of how our district and Boards are excellent stewards of our tax dollars.

B-Z Davis, co-chair Citizens for Northshore Schools


This month the Northshore Community Kitchen — a joint Northshore Council PTSA/Northshore YMCA program — will celebrate its first anniversary, made possible by generous and on-going support from several local businesses, community organizations, PTA units, individual donors, Northshore School District and a wonderful group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers.  Over the summer, Farms for Life will be providing weekly deliveries of fresh produce, and we’ll be harvesting the benefits of two YMCA-spearheaded mini gardening projects.

Since it began in April 2012, the Kitchen has prepared and distributed almost 3,000 once-a-week ready-to-eat meals to 37 families (141 people), and since October 2012 over 600 once-a-week sack snacks to 25-30 students attending the after-school Hang Time program at Kenmore Junior High. Since February, the Kitchen has also provided some of the items for the 595 sack snacks going to the 85 students who attend Hang Time at Northshore and Skyview junior highs.

In addition to the weekly meals, the families who’ve enrolled with the Kitchen have the opportunity to pick up a bi-weekly “extra” bag of non-perishable food items courtesy of the Y’s participation in the Totes To Go program.

The Northshore Community Kitchen is part of the Northshore Nourishing Network, a collaboration of local groups working to alleviate hunger insecurity in our community. On  Monday May 20 members of the public are invited to attend a presentation by registered dietitian Susie Fox about the links between hunger and obesity and how hunger can hurt children, families, and communities. Following the presentation there will be an opportunity for everyone to connect with Northshore Nourishing Network groups, learn more about what they are doing, and find out how to help.

The presentation will be held at the Bothell United Methodist Church, 18515 92nd Avenue NE, Bothell, 98011, May 20  from 6- 8 p.m.

For info: (425) 844 8923 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Julie Jacobson, senior director, Northshore YMCA, (425) 286-6122 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sue Freeman, Social Services Chair, Northshore Council PTSA