Press Editorial

July 6, 2010

Names on public petitions should not be hidden

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in an 8-1 decision that petition signers in Washington state do not have a constitutional right to anonymity. But it left room for lower courts to consider whether special circumstances in any case warrant exceptions.

The court upheld two of democracy’s critical attributes: transparency and responsibility.

Washington’s initiative process has a low threshold to get on a ballot. It cannot take place in the shadows but must be conducted — and verified — in the public light. People should think before signing every petition — do I want my name publicly attached to this petition?

The case in question, Doe v. Reed, began last year when opponents of a domestic partnership — or “everything-but-marriage” — law began a petition drive to repeal the law.

Supporters of the law threatened to put the names of petition signers — which are public record — on the Internet. Fearing intimidation, opponents sued to protect the privacy of petition signers.

Read more

Police dispatcher agrees to hair-shedding fundraiser

July 6, 2010

Issaquah Police Chief Paul Ayers takes the first swipe at emergency dispatcher Jacqueline Kerness’ hair, which she volunteered to have shaved off to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walk in September. By Chantelle Lusebrink

The Eagle Room at City Hall buzzed in anticipation as police dispatcher Jacqueline Kerness nervously sat down in a chair at the center of the room.

Stepping behind her, poised with a set of buzzing electric clippers, Police Chief Paul Ayers made the first swipe through Kerness’ hair, sending the brown locks to the floor.

“Here we go,” he said, taking a swath of hair from the base of her head. “I think it’s looking good.”

Shedding her hair June 30 was all for a good cause, said Kerness, who bravely volunteered to have her colleagues cut away. She has been interested in helping battle cancer since high school, and she had her hair cut in February 2009 as a donation to Locks of Love, the organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.

This time, Kerness’ colleagues bid to take a turn with the clippers, each time raising money for fellow dispatcher Carma Mathieson to participate in September’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walk.

“I have been bountifully blessed with health, so I walk,” Mathieson said. “It takes a huge commitment, because it is a lot of time away from my family, but they support me.

“I’ll do it every year, until cancer is done.”

Both of her parents, Francis Bingham, 70, and Helen Bingham, 73, died from cancer within the past 15 years, she said. Her aunt also died of cancer. She said she has had several friends and colleagues — during her 24 years as a city employee — who have been diagnosed with different cancers and have fought the disease. Read more

Off the Press

July 6, 2010

Is that a famous person? Quick, get the camera!

Issaquah is not in Southern California, if all the rain and forests didn’t give it away. But our town on the edge of the greater Seattle area is linked to its fair share of recognizable and famous people. Some have moved here, others used to live here and some just drop in from time to time.

So, just who are these famous folks who graced Issaquah at one time or another, you ask? Modest Mouse front man Isaac Brock; Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki; sportscaster Rick Rizzs; former Mariners Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr., Paul Sorrento, J.J. Putz, Omar Vizquel, Dave Valle and Jeff Nelson; former Seattle Supersonics Detlef Schrempf and Ray Allen; Pulitzer-winning playwright Brian Yorkey; authors Deb Caletti and Serena Rolan; actress Cynthia Geary, who played Shelly Marie Tambo on “Northern Exposure”; Lockergnome founder Chris Pirillo; and Red and Rover comic strip artist Brian Basset.

Also, don’t forget Colin Curtis, who graduated from Issaquah High School and now plays for the New York Yankees. Oh, and Train lead singer Pat Monahan lives somewhere up on Lake Sammamish as well, although that may be just out of city limits.

Others who have been said to live here include The Decemberists’ bassist Nate Query, NBC news correspondent Margaret Larson and filmmaker Phil Lucas, who passed away in 2007.

Many of the city’s notable residents have been featured in The Issaquah Press before, and it may not be unusual to see some of them around town. However, the more famous people in the area aren’t seen around town as often, and their exact whereabouts can be hard to pinpoint.

Read more

Teachers’ union leader takes many memories with her into retirement

July 6, 2010

Neva Luke, who is retiring as Issaquah Education Association president, sits in her office with a picture of her and husband Pat Ciairelli, and a framed Rosie the Riveter World War II poster. By Greg Farrar

Neva Luke, 60, cleared the treasure trove of memories from her office at the Issaquah Education Association in the days leading up to her retirement from the Issaquah School District.

Photos of her travels to Versailles with her husband, Pat Ciairelli, the framed placard of Rosie the Riveter saying “We can do it!” and a card from her sister of Gilda Radner’s “Saturday Night Live” character Roseanne Roseannadanna, whining that “It’s always something,” — all are mementos of a life dedicated to helping children and advancing public education.

Read more

Rapid Response

July 6, 2010

How can the city best encourage owners of undeveloped land/open space to preserve their property for conservation?

Pass an ordinance that says we’ve met all our growth targets, and then stop granting permits for new construction.

Bryan Weinstein, Issaquah

Have environmental groups, such as Conservancy and Mountains to Sound, purchase the land. Provide tax incentives and donors with public recognition through statues, plaques, sitting benches, etc. Provide incentive for projects willing to preserve open space.

Mark Bowers, Issaquah

If it is zoned for development, the only honest thing to do is to buy it from them or purchase development rights to keep it as open space. Anything else is stealing.

Fred Nystrom, Issaquah

Read more

Passport fees at City Hall will increase next week

July 6, 2010

Expect to pay more for a passport soon at Issaquah City Hall and other passport sites nationwide.

Starting July 13, updated fees from the U.S. Department of State go into effect. Most international travelers will pay $135 for passports — $110 to the State Department, and $25 to the city for processing.

The local site — on the second floor at City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way — provides information about passport procedures and acts as a liaison between applicants and the U.S. Passport Services Agency.

Though federal fees will rise, the fees the city charges to process passports will remain the same. Learn more at the city website, www.ci.issaquah.wa.us. Follow the “Departments” link to “City Clerk’s Office” and select the item labeled “Passports.”

Phyllis Runyon named new IEA president

July 6, 2010

Phyllis Runyon

Taking up the helm at the Issaquah Education Association is Phyllis Runyon, a speech and language pathologist with the Issaquah School District.

In coming years, Runyon will guide the teachers’ association through many challenges that will face them locally as education is reformed at the state and national levels, said former President Neva Luke, who retired June 30.

Runyon answered a few questions by e-mail about her new position.

What do you feel the association’s mission is?

Our mission is to work with the district to provide the best working conditions possible for educators, so they can focus on their job of providing an excellent education for the students of Issaquah.

Why is a strong association important?

Our community expects well-educated students. To provide this, we must attract and retain the highest quality of educators possible. The association is made up of about 1,000 members, and when they are able to do their jobs well, the whole community benefits.

How do you feel the association has changed in the last 10 years?

The focus of the association has broadened. Our jobs have always been political, but that has extended into education reform, ESEA (No Child Left Behind), and any number of political forces that affect our members — not to mention the economic woes that our state faces that affect our schools. Issaquah alone has experienced more than $10 million in cuts over the last two years.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing the association will face in the coming year? How do you plan to tackle it?

Educators have become the scapegoat for anything wrong with education in this country. I believe this is fallout from the effort to dismantle public education. The irony of this political attitude is that educators are the heart and soul of public education. They make it work. I want to remind those who want to change to a corporate model that our students are not a single product. They are individuals with individual needs and goals. We can’t help them reach their goals when we have to compete for funding and focus on test results rather than how to prepare our students to be responsible, productive citizens.

Realtors become volunteer landscapers for Compassion House

July 6, 2010

Windermere volunteer Wendy Oliver, center, overlooks the progress that the landscaping party has made at the Compassion House duplex. Contributed

The new Compassion House duplex on Andrews Street received a landscaping makeover June 18, as Windermere Real Estate associates donated their time as part of their annual Service Day.

Finishing touches are being put on the new building, which has space to hold two families in need of transitional housing, according to Compassion House board member Rick McCarty.

The nonprofit organization strives to provide struggling families with not only a place to live, but also counseling and skill building to help them stand on their own, McCarty said.

“It’s really about giving people a hand up, not a handout,” he said.

When faced with making plans for the 2010 Windermere Service Day, coordinator Dave Paremski chose to return to Compassion House, which he and his agents had worked with several years ago to landscape the neighboring home. Read more

To The Editor

July 6, 2010

Dog ordinance

Draconian blanket ban on walking dogs punishes responsible owners

I was at the new Cybil Madeline Park recently at the end of an Issaquah Environmental Council Work party. Next to one of the large piles of freshly removed invasive vegetation and garbage, I noticed the temporary sign for the park and another that bans dogs.

It quotes Municipal Code 6.08.021, Ord. 1567, which states: “It is unlawful for the owner or custodian of any domestic animal to cause, permit or allow such animal to enter any city park where posted.” Being a dog owner, walker, taxpayer and previous supporter of this park, I was taken aback by this.

To me, it seems ridiculous to totally ban dogs from our parks. I think that dogs should be licensed, leashed, stay out of the tot lots, off the sports fields, and the owners need to be responsible and pick up after their pets. However, it is crazy to me to totally ban people from responsibly walking their leashed dogs through a public park. I thought Issaquah was supposed to be a Trail City and Cybil Madeline Park was going to be our Central Park?

After a bit of thought, I realized that this draconian policy probably got slipped in on us last year when there were problems at Timberlake Park. That park is rather small and isolated, so maybe banning dogs there made sense to someone. However, it makes no sense to me to make the ultimate solution to an isolated problem at one small neighborhood park to totally ban dogs from every city park in Issaquah.

This blanket ban of dog walking in all of our parks is a ridiculous policy, and one I am going to remember the next time I am asked to open my wallet for the next park bond.

C.A. Christensen

Issaquah

Trail system

No fix is needed; bikers already have paved streets for their paths

Mark Lyon’s letter last week rightly celebrated the beauty of our Issaquah trail system. However, his suggestion that we should pave paradise — or at least the part of it that runs behind the high school — would move the trail system in exactly the wrong direction.

As a biker, Mark has miles of trails on which to ride: They’re called streets. As one of many local dog walkers and hikers, we cherish those few paths that get joyously muddy, offer sloppy puddles and otherwise merge into the surrounding charms of Tiger Mountain. The trail ain’t broke and there’s no need to fix it.

Wes Howard-Brook

Issaquah

Closures start soon at licensing, other state offices

July 6, 2010

Drivers face fewer opportunities to renew or update licenses in the months ahead, because the state has ordered offices for the Department of Licensing and dozens of other agencies to close for a day each month until June 2011.

The first shutdown occurs July 12. The state also plans to close most agencies and programs Aug. 6, Sept. 7, Oct. 11 and Dec. 27. Expect closures during the first six months of next year as well.

Officials shielded services critical to public health and safety — such as Child Protective Services and the Washington State Patrol — from office closures. But some business functions at those agencies will be impacted by the shutdowns. State employees will be considered temporarily laid off on dates their offices close.

Find a complete list of closures at the state Office of Financial Management website.

The cash-strapped state hopes to save $70 million through the mandatory shutdowns. Lawmakers passed the legislation in April, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill.

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