Seattle's oldest public-housing complex—a prerequisite of residency is that your income is just 30 percent of Seattle's median—is headed for "redevelopment" and community groups are getting nervous. The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), which owns Yesler Terrace at Yesler Way and Broadway on First Hill, wants to replace the 561-unit, 1939 building with a mixed-income development.
SHA is holding the first meeting of its citizen review committee for the project on Wednesday, October 25. Resident Kristen O'Donnell worries the project will result in a net loss of low-income housing. "A lot of people here, given our druthers, would prefer they leave us alone and fix the plumbing and the roof when we need it," she said. "Just keep up the maintenance and leave the community the way it is." ANGELA VALDEZ
Goofus and Gallant
Frank Blethen, the estate-tax-obsessed owner of the Seattle Times, made a royal fool of himself on KUOW's Weekday on Monday, October 23, where he went head to head with philanthropist Bill Gates Sr. on the merits of the tax. (The progressive state estate tax falls on families whose estates are worth $2 million or more, and exempts farmland and timber if they make up more than half of the estate. The money from the tax pays for public education and student loans.)
After both multimillionaires acknowledged that they would personally pay the state estate tax, Blethen explained his opposition: "The problem with this tax is this tax renders Washington State at a serious economic disadvantage... which is going to come home to haunt us if we don't repeal this tax." Already, Blethen claimed, "I'm doing the unimaginable and actually advising members of the Blethen family... to move out of state." He went further, blaming the estate tax for the consolidation of industries from media to drugstores to funeral homes.
Gates gave a calm—and devastating—response: "It's a recycling of funds. When the end comes and one has had the enormous pleasure of a life full of discretion and the interesting things that you're able to do, the choice between passing [wealth] along to heirs or the choice of paying something back to the society that made what happened to you possible... doesn't seem to me to be much of an argument."
The state estate tax affects a whopping 250 households in Washington State, whose tax system is otherwise one of the most regressive in the nation. ERICA C. BARNETT