Opinion

Letters to the editor

City Council and public input regarding Tent City

Thanks to Maynard Smith for his letter in the July 9 Mercer Island Reporter that goes after Mayor Pearman and rightfully so. In the forum piece in the same issue, Pearman himself admits that he, the Council and the city have been studying Tent City for years. It would have been nice if the city had spent as much time consulting with the public on a potential Tent City as they did on the off-leash doggy area at Luther Burbank Park! I guess that shows where citizens rate compared to dogs. Shame on the mayor for being so careless with the citizens. Remember that next year, three seats are up for election and Pearman’s is one of them.

Tent City is

much-needed emergency shelter

Detractors use the tactic of setting up a straw man when they say that tent cities don’t provide a means of ending homelessness. SHARE doesn’t claim that tent cities are a means of ending homelessness; they offer much-needed emergency shelter, providing participants with a safe, clean, organized place to stay until they get on their feet. SHARE does this and has done it exceptionally well since 1990 in Seattle, where the city has funded SHARE shelters for over two decades. The other tent city, Tent City 3, has operated successfully since 2000.

The “10-Year Plan to End Homelessness” in King County recognizes, in its introduction, the need to support “interim survival mechanisms, such as tent cities,” until there is enough affordable housing for everyone. The committee acknowledges that we are far from having reached that goal. There are 8,000 homeless people in the county and only 2,500 shelter beds. An emergency undeniably exists; SHARE endeavors to alleviate this dire situation.

SHARE shelters are unique in being self-managed, not run by “group leaders.” Indeed, the very decision to accept the invitation to visit Mercer Island was discussed and put to a vote at a weekly Tent City 4 meeting, not foisted on participants by some “group leaders” whose motive was to “parade them through the streets.”

Beyond giving emergency shelter, SHARE works diligently to end homelessness with a representative on the Committee to End Homelessness, going to Housing and Homelessness Day in Olympia, the One Night Count, meetings with government officials, testifying at public meetings, and working with groups like the Interfaith Task Force. I’m proud to volunteer with SHARE, an exemplary humanitarian organization.

PEAK settlement

I would like to thank the Mercer Island Reporter for its careful and thorough coverage of the recent settlement among the Boys & Girls Club, the city, school district, Islanders for Common Sense and certain individual neighbors of PEAK. All parties to the agreement worked hard, in good faith, to reach an agreement so that the needs of the Island’s children could be served. One person in particular deserves credit for his tireless efforts to bring the parties to the table and keep them talking. Dan Grausz never accepted failure as an option. Despite a full work and travel schedule, Dan maintained the pace of negotiations and persuaded the parties to come to agreement. On behalf of the community, I thank you, Dan!

Park and Ride landscaping neglected by Metro

Shame on Metro for failing to maintain the landscaping at the much delayed, newly opened Park and Ride on Mercer Island. Since the facility was opened, the landscaping has been completely neglected and the weeds have taken over.

I really thought Metro was going to be a better neighbor.

City Council meeting a mockery

On Monday, July 7, I attended my first MI City Council meeting. I had no particular agenda item of interest; I just wanted to watch the process. What I witnessed was truly a mockery. As a 25-year resident of Mercer Island, I naively assumed that our Council members were acting in the best interests of their constituents. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

What I observed was a group of individuals (with the exception of Mike Cero) who are arrogant and dismissive of the needs of the community that they are sworn to serve.

The initial hour of the meeting was devoted to “appearances.” The only subject presented was Tent City. It was clear that prior to granting the permission to utilize the United Methodist Church as a site for Tent City, the Council had neither solicited nor considered the opinions and welfare of the community as a whole or the residents of First Hill, in particular. As in several other instances, this decision was rendered as a fait accompli, spinelessly avoiding any input from the community. In appearances, the residents of First Hill were kept to a strict three-minute limit, yet Mayor Pearman permitted alleged residents of Tent City 15 minutes to read a letter as a five-person relay. There were no MI residents speaking in favor of Tent City, yet this proceeds on schedule.

The watchword in the ’70s for government was: “Be careful you don’t radicalize the moderates.” The Council has done just that.

City Council meetings will be televised starting on July 21. I urge residents to watch and witness how poorly we are being served.

Summer

Celebration! 2008

Both my husband, Jim, and I would truly like to thank the City of Mercer Island, Parks and Recreation, the Mercer Island Police Department, Mercer Island Youth & Family Services and everyone who worked so very hard to make the entire Summer Celebration! a huge success!

I know I am missing any number of people with the City of Mercer Island. You are all wonderful! Thank you for a great weekend.

I volunteer at Youth & Family Services, and I know just how hard both YFS and Parks and Recreation have worked for months to make Summer Celebration! a success. Our city is amazing. What a great weekend! I also volunteer for another nonprofit organization: the Mercer Island Guild. We produce the MI telephone directory each year and had a booth for Summer Celebration. It could not have been as successful as it was without all the organization and help from the City of Mercer Island. Talk about “unsung heros” — the “heros” should be everyone who works for the City of Mercer Island. I wish I could thank each and every one of you individually. You are all amazing. I hope all of you finally got some sleep by Monday. You are the BEST!

From the “what were they thinking” department ...

During this year’s Summer Celebration! Parade, the giant party truck from Movin’ 92.5 radio came down 78th Avenue loudly playing music. The artist in the song proclaimed, “I am a sex machine!” — followed by lyrics not suitable for a family newspaper or a family summer celebration.

With all the wonderful songs and artists featured on Movin’ 92.5, why did the station choose an X-rated song for a G-rated gathering? Something to consider for next year’s festivities.

What happened to the Travelodge?

I lived on beautiful Mercer Island in the very early 1960s. I haven’t visited in six years, but I always stayed at the Travelodge at 7645 Sunset Hwy. I can’t seem to contact it. Did it recently close? I can still find it on Google. As I recall, it was the only motel in 1960 and in 2002.

Are there any other hotels on Mercer Island now?

I read all the opinions about the Tent City 4 dilemma. Oh, my! However, your mayor seems to be a man of character and integrity. I will follow your stories online in your newspaper.

My former husband and I really, truly did love Mercer Island. We were very involved with the Catholic church, couples’ bowling league, etc., and had many friends. We were very, very young Boeing employees. We always thought that we would move back. Staying at the Travelodge over the years was the best that I could do.

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