Letters to the editor

Only half the story

Your article, “UW, Western deny top students,” tells only half the story as to why so many good students are being rejected by the University of Washington. The article says that growth in the number of applicants makes it more difficult to get into the UW. That’s true. But what about the other side of the equation? Everyone knows the number of applicants is growing. Why not increase the size of the UW, along with Western and other state schools, to meet the demand? The answer is obvious. Public higher education is subsidized by the taxpayers. Expanding universities will cost more. The citizens and legislators of Washington state have considered the tradeoff between higher taxes and access to universities, and have chosen lower taxes. Other states have decided differently; Washington state is close to being the worst in the country with regard to access to public four-year institutions of higher education (the last time I looked, only Florida was worse).

It does take a village (or an Island)

The MIHS PTSA Staff Appreciation Committee would like to acknowledge and personally thank the following donors for their tremendous support and contributions in helping to make this year’s MIHS staff appreciation week a great success. Thanks to MIHS boys varsity baseball players and their families for donating Mariners tickets, George Stokes/North end Shell service station for providing car air fresheners, Suzy Skone/M.I. Auto Spa for car wash gift certificates and more air fresheners, Noah’s Bagels for breakfast bagels on the first day, Starbucks Coffee for what else but fantastic coffee and creamer, and thank you to the many wonderful PTSA parent volunteers for generously offering your time and culinary contributions throughout the year and particularly during this year’s staff appreciation week.

Thank you, all.


admissions story

Congratulations to reporter Elizabeth Celms for her articles on how tough it was for our students to be accepted at leading colleges this year — including the ones Mom and Dad attended.

I do have a footnote for your readers. Almost as if the director of admissions from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (my alma mater), was reading your stories online about how my son, Ari, was wait-listed there and chose instead to attend the University of Michigan, last night (after seeing the article in print) we learned that UNC had offered Ari admission.

Too late! Ari is committed to being a Wolverine after being escorted around the campus by Mercer Islanders Abra Jacobson and Brandon Fellows.

Oh, well, it is UNC’s loss, but I do have two more kids who will apply in years to come.

Thanks for your stories.

Cartoon insults Microsoft

I can’t resist writing about the recent Opinion page cartoon that commented on Microsoft’s abandoned purchase of Yahoo. As my 8-year-old child put it, “Why is the cartoon showing Microsoft like a fat, angry cat, and why is the cat chasing that scared little Yahoo bird?” My sentiments, exactly.

The message is clear, of course. It’s trite and superficial. Microsoft is menacing. Yahoo, which rebuffed a $40-plus billion offer, is shown as vulnerable. What I don’t understand is the possibility that the paper’s editors buy into this shallow view of the Internet industry and this stereotype of Microsoft.

There are likely hundreds of Microsoft employees past and present who call Mercer Island home. I am one. I’m sure none of us thinks of our company as menacing. Just the opposite, in fact. While many of us may have a competitive streak, we also see ourselves as creating products, services and businesses that make the world better. And going a step further, we give back to the community like few other companies do, including giving back to the Island.

I’m not suggesting that the editors hold their tongues if they truly view Microsoft in the way the cartoon depicted. But given the prevalence of Microsofties on the Island, I would have hoped that before publishing a cartoon like this one, the Reporter might have looked closely at what was at stake in the Yahoo deal. There are a number of Islanders who are very knowledgeable on the subject. And if the editors had looked closely at the deal or talked to local sources, I’d have been surprised to see the Reporter paint Microsoft in such black-and-white terms.

I guess what really bothers me is my fear that the cartoon was published without any deeper thought at all.

Call for

a master plan

The PEAK proposal elicited strong views from many Islanders — both supporters for an expanded Boys & Girls Club and opponents — and citizens from the neighborhood who believe that the impacts of the facility are more than the neighborhood should absorb.

IslandVision was established to further the mission of sustainability — that our actions take into account equity, environment and economy — the triple bottom line. Viewed from this perspective, the superblock that contains Youth Theatre, children’s schools, Mary Wayte Pool, the high school and possibly PEAK, is our education district and a major Island asset. Planning for its future in a holistic way that takes into account present needs and future considerations is in all our best interests.

The current layout and design of the high school superblock does not consider the resulting carbon footprint of the building and vehicle traffic nor the life-cycle costs of operation and maintenance. In the case of Mercer Island, reliance on cars is a dominant factor. The campus has limited internal pedestrian connectivity through the site, pedestrian hazards for safe access and difficult pedestrian traffic across Island Crest Way; and few, if any, incentives to encourage our teenagers to bike or walk to school.

Now is the time to take stock of the superblock and consider how it might meet the requirements of Islanders now and in the future. A larger community conversation and a master plan is in order, not unlike the current conversation about Luther Burbank Park.

IslandVision calls for and agrees to host a series of public conversations to frame expectations for a master plan.

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