JOSH: I'm a planner, historic preservationist, grant writer, and Main Street Manager for a small city in Northwestern Pennsylvania. I read with interest your piece on outside consulting costs and fiscal responsibility in local government ["Look Within," Josh Feit, Oct 25].

"Outside consultants" are often dragged out as the villains in government overspending, but dig a little deeper and you will find that it's local government and politicians who are creating this problem for themselves. Just as big business loves to hire contractors and temp employees to do the dirty work, city and county governments would rather pay one-time (often huge) consulting fees rather than hire and pay qualified staff to do the work in-house. The city I currently work for doesn't want me on their official payroll; nor does the county or the Chamber of Commerce. So instead, I'm paid a flat salary (from a state grant), and am not eligible for the group retirement, health [insurance], or union benefits that my taxes are paying for! My job security is only as tight as the next grant application I write. Keep on this story! When the politicos start "flagging" issues, there is usually more to learn.

Swan Johnson, Pennsylvania


EDITORS: In response to Michael Hood's letter in the last Stranger [Letters to the Editor, Oct 25], in which he whined about my coverage of the Seattle Slam, let me say that what I did almost a year ago was to offer a critical perspective while listing the Slam in the literary calendar. I hardly took exception to the Slam's existence (after all, I LISTED it), but instead questioned the patronizing atmosphere and lack of rigorous artistic standards applied to much of the work appearing there. Bob Redmond, the man who has done most of the hard work toward ensuring the Slam's continued survival, has generously contributed to my campaign.

Mr. Hood's attempt to put a racial slant on my candidacy offends me and patronizes Council Member McIver. The phrase "angry white male" is not usually meant to indicate those whose anger is over mistreatment of our ecosystem and the helplessness of the poor, the erosion of the commons, and the supremacy of the automobile.

Richard McIver's weak positions on transit, public housing, police review, and corporate welfare are hardly beneficial to those who struggle hardest to survive in this city (and who are also disproportionately non-white).

McIver had his last fundraiser at Gogerty Stark Marriott, the PR firm that brought us Mr. Allen's private stadium election, the recent spin on Sound Transit's $4 billion streetcar-to-nowhere, and much else that will benefit McIver's wealthy contributors. His contributors' list is a Who's Who of downtown players who have a vested interest in the decisions of the council. Voting for McIver strictly because of his race is a purely poetic gesture, and as W.H. Auden wrote, "Poetry makes nothing happen."

Seattle's political air is full of self-congratulatory praise for diversity, which allows the powerful to smile and do nothing. There are those like Michael Hood for whom the mere presence of a black council member is far more important than anything that council member might do. But the people of our city who ride the bus, work tough jobs, and suffer from poverty need real change, not mere symbolism. If you want to support racial diversity on the council AND support someone who will represent the citizenry of Seattle, vote for my officemate, Michael Preston, in the race for Position 2.

Grant Cogswell

Candidate for Seattle City Council, Position 8


EDITOR: I was beginning to think that there weren't any queers out there with real balls. Then, in the October 25 issue of The Stranger, comes [State] Representative Ed Murray's piece encouraging other liberals to vote for Mark Sidran ["Don't Listen to The Stranger"]. It was heartening to see that the "gay guy who represents Capitol Hill" isn't afraid to endorse diversity. Who says that I can't be compassionate and liberal on social issues without having to put up with people who pee in front of my business, harass me for nickels, do their fuckin' dope deals in front of me and my kids, make me climb over them to get into my apartment or office building, or shoot each other in late-night parking lot piss-offs?

John Primeau, via e-mail

DEAREST STRANGER: Say what you want, but Mark Sidran speaks plainly, and he routinely speaks the most painful truths. We all have to look beyond our myopic, personal views. I am counting on the leftist likes of The Stranger to take the excruciating lead and communicate the toughest truths during hard times. Mark Sidran is the human-man. Demonizing him or any other mortal with awful, finger-pointing labels like "Satan" only gives extremists a license to do awful things that shame any democracy.

Stuart Colman, via e-mail

TO THE EDITOR: I couldn't agree more with Ed Murray's support of Mark Sidran. Mark is not what The Stranger consistently makes him out to be. Sidran has support from MANY liberal Democrats, and from people of all walks of life, all colors, all ages, all tastes in music, and all income levels. And he's gaining in the polls while Nickels is losing ground. It seems to me that the more popular Sidran's "common-sense" approach to politics becomes with the voters, the more hell-bent The Stranger is in trying to stop him.

Jeff Lehman, via e-mail

EDITORS: Please add me to the list of those who echo Ed Murray's endorsement. I, too, am a "gay guy" in Seattle who endorses and will vote for Mark Sidran. I have dealt with him on several issues and find him to be reasonable, fair, and decisive.

It is your right as a publication to reflect the views of your editors. I am hoping you will also have the insight to show that your views are not held by all citizens here.

Gary Howse, President

Downtown Seattle Residents Council

STRANGER: Your publication was losing credibility with me because I have attended debates and listened to the candidates for months, and I have never seen the ruthless, heartless side of Mark Sidran that you have portrayed.

With the issues facing our leaders in the near future, it is all the more reason to vote for someone who is confident in his own decisions and willing to take responsibility for them. There are probably a lot more Sidran supporters reading your paper than you think.

Kelly Saulsbury, via e-mail

EDITORS: I would like to commend Rep. Ed Murray for his recent endorsement of Mark Sidran for mayor. It takes courage to challenge the caricatures and distorted views of Mark promoted by Greg Nickels, The Stranger, and other media.

Mark Sidran has consistently told people what he believes. It may not be what they want to hear, but his position is well-reasoned, and reflects existing political and fiscal realities. I don't always agree with him, but I find his honesty and candor very refreshing. With Mark you know where you stand, and I think Ed Murray's experience and endorsement confirms this.

I encourage others to get beyond the campaign rhetoric and learn more about Sidran.

Tom Eckmann, via e-mail


DEAR LAST DAYS: I realize The Stranger is not known for political correctness, but I particularly hate the phrase you used when referring to Stephen Hawking: "wheelchair-bound" [Last Days, Oct 25]. As a wheelchair user, I am not "bound" to my chair. No chains or ropes restrain me, although I do wear a seat belt. My chair is my legs. It is my freedom.

I am bracing for some kind of smart-alecky [response] in next week's column (which, by the way, I read and enjoy each week). Keep in mind, however, that we wheelchair users can be a rather militant lot when riled, so be forewarned, and watch your toes!

Anne in West Seattle


In the article "Roast the Competition" [Pat Kearney, Oct 11], we incorrectly identified Starbucks' spokeswoman as Audrey Libby. Her name is Audrey Lincoff.

Also, in an In Other News item ["Koukasen Un'yu Kaisha," Pat Kearney, Oct 18], we incorrectly stated that Peter Sherwin authored the original monorail initiative. Sherwin wrote I-53, the second monorail initiative. Grant Cogswell and Dick Falkenbury wrote I-41, the original monorail initiative.

Finally, thanks to a typo, last week's Five to Four column ["Money Talks," Josh Feit, Oct 25] stated that City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck proposed imposing a parking tax on "downtown lofts." We meant "downtown lots."