July 27, 2007
You have undoubtedly noticed our new, temporary, home page. We believe that its content is sufficiently important that it should be the first thing that people see when they click on to our web site, at least for a while.
Open letters have long been used, particularly as a means of calling public attention to great injustices or incompetence by governments. In some cases they have been highly effective. Among the best known examples are some of the epistles of the Bible, J'accuse by French author Émile Zola (1898), and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s letter from jail in Birmingham, Alabama (1963).
The Eastside is faced with a situation in which a handful of politicians are attempting to do something that is not only highly unpopular, but which could also be very harmful to our future. To add insult to injury, they want us to pay for it not only in terms of the long-term damage to our region, but also directly out of our pockets.
(The officially estimated $66 million that would be spent to scrap the railroad and build the bicycle trail in its place would superficially be provided by the Port of Seattle. However, the Port, in turn, obtains its surplus funds for projects such as this from a property tax, which all of us pay either directly or in the form of higher rents.)
It may initially seem like a bit of overkill to compare Bill's letter with some of the great open letters of history. But perhaps it is not. It has become increasingly apparent that taking positive action about environmental and transportation problems is one of the most critical issues of our time. And if a supposedly progressive region such as the Seattle area continues to make such obviously short-sighted and dumb blunders, how can we expect those in other parts of the world to make wise decisions? Needless to say, we can't. We should be setting an example for the rest of the world, not blindly repeating the failed policies of the past.
This open letter has been sent to leading elected officials in the state of Washington. We expect some of them will take notice. This includes those busy and well-meaning leaders who were at first impressed by the supposed "creativity" of the complex airport-railroad swap deal and were not initially aware of its true consequences.
William Bailey is a founding member of Eastside Rail Now! A resident of Bellevue and an artist by profession, Bill has long been an advocate of reducing poor planning, waste and corruption in the public sector.
Thank you, Bill!
Note: The open letter has been moved to www.eastsiderailnow.org/open_letter.html.
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