|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.
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.
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.
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!
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.