EDITORS: As a former (and hopefully future) Ave resident, I completely agree with Sean Nelson's praise of the Ave and criticism of The Seattle Times assessment of the area ["Third Place," March 7]. Yes, the Ave may be a bit of a shithole, but I'd rather wade down it than through some sterile, picture-perfect, hair-sprayed mall complex any day or night! Reading his article made me miss Seattle even more than usual. And once again, Ellen Forney has done a brilliant job ["How D'Ya Talk About Drugs With Your Kid?" March 7]. I'm glad that at least one paper in Seattle has the guts to print sensible perspectives on drugs. Thanks for providing me with a weekly dose of Seattle here in Oslo, Norway!
Ellen O. M., via e-mail
STRANGER: CHEERS! To Sean Nelson's article on my hometown--the Ave. The first year I lived in Seattle I hardly left the U-District. Having grown up in the stultifying suburbs, I found that Seattle 98105 offered everything I never knew I wanted in a neighborhood--kabobs, home brew, and second-hand stores. I hardly left the comfortable confines of the Big Time and the College Inn during the Winter of the 100 Days of Rain. And somewhere in there I got a degree.
JEERS! To Amy Jenniges' nearsighted article on U-District panhandling ["Change to Spare," March 7]. So you only got hit up for 75 cents during your walk? Try living in the area and walking those streets every day. It gets old dodging a gauntlet of panhandlers every time you go to Safeway for your ramen and Rainier. But hey, that's America for you. I live in Australia now, where my meager pay as a university bureaucrat places me in the same tax bracket as Rupert Murdoch. I lose about 25 to 30 percent of my pay to taxes, but I haven't seen a single "Will work for food" or "I won't lie--it's for beer" sign since I've been here.
Ian Morgan, via e-mail
STRANGER: As the property manager of a handful of apartments in Seattle, I was rather disappointed to see the one-sided platform that Scott Winn took in his March 7 article, "A Handy To-Do List for Newly Empowered Tenants." Those of us who work hard to provide comfortable housing at realistic prices suddenly find ourselves lumped in with slumlords. As a professional, I will be one of the first to admit that there are landlords out there who need to be held accountable for their second-rate business practices. Scott Winn's article depicts all landlords as evil money-grubbing pirates who have no regard for their tenants. His approach even seems to encourage a "get even" attitude toward landlords as a whole.
There are good landlords and bad landlords, but renters also come in varying degrees of quality. There is a motto that circulates in the apartment rental industry that says, "Having no tenant is better than a bad tenant." I have several buildings full of good tenants who agree with me on this.
To Scott Winn and Judy Nicastro: Walk a mile in my shoes, and then we can talk. To everyone else: Give a landlord the respect they earn and deserve, and keep in mind that some earn and deserve more respect than others. Realistic housing is available and good deals are out there, but in the end, you get what you pay for.
Marty Warnke, Properties Coordinator
EDITOR: [Seattle City] Council Member Margaret Pageler is one of the hardest-working and most dedicated public officials I know. The Stranger and I may not always agree with her votes, but they are thoroughly researched, well thought out, and consistent.
It is unfortunate that in "Resign, Margaret" [March 7], Josh Feit did not print any of the positive comments I made about Pageler. Instead, the article implied that I believed there was a conflict of interest because she interviewed for the CEO position at the Chamber of Commerce. I do not believe there is. She has not voted or acted in any way to influence a potential employer.
Yes, I was disappointed that Pageler would consider the Chamber job, because I do not want her to leave the city council. I hope all of Pageler's supporters will join me in urging her to run for re-election next year. Not only is she a strong fifth vote on protecting renters' rights, as I told Feit, but she is smart, professional, and, most importantly, an ethical leader.
Judy Nicastro, Seattle City Council Member
JOSH FEIT RESPONDS: I didn't "imply" that Nicastro believed there was a conflict of interest. I said it. And Nicastro said it too: "It seems appropriate that if you don't wish to continue to be a public servant--to be a city council member--that you would resign or let the public know that you were not seeking reelection. Hence there would be no appearance of--or direct--conflict of interest in pursuing another job."
In fact, Nicastro is the one who suggested that--in regards to Pageler's secret job search--I check out the ethics guidelines in other cities, like New York City. Nicastro seemed sure that Pageler's secret job hunt at the Chamber of Commerce would be considered unethical in other places around the country. I checked it out, and as I reported, Nicastro was right.
If, after the article was published, Nicastro decided to change her opinion, that's her right. But it's not her right to mischaracterize our earlier conversations in an effort to discredit my reporting, and appease Pageler. (Maybe that webcam in Nicastro's office isn't such a bad idea.)