To the Editor

June 11, 2013

By Contributor

Tree City?

Have respect for trees, city values

Tree City USA is a nice sentiment in Issaquah, but the reality is some of our absentee landlords don’t have any respect for trees or other homeowners’ property.

On May 31, 2013, neighbors called us at work to let us know a crew was trimming our prized Atlas cedar: each and every single branch that was hanging over the fence! Nobody asked, nobody commented, nobody even advised – they just cut. Now, the tree is halved, lopsided and provides our neighbors with nothing but the view of the inside of our tree. How sad.

What’s worse, this tree is now on a downward spiral. The thousands of dollars I’ve invested in selective trimming over the past 13 years to respect the neighbors’ property is lost. This must be how they do things in Seattle. In the five plus years since that duplex was built next to my home, I’ve carefully trimmed the tree to respect that neighbors’ property. This is how they treat neighbors?

If asked in advance, I would have paid for it myself, sparing me the agony and them the expense. I expect that as more stupid people with money purchase Old Towne homes for rentals, we residents will need to contend with these outsiders who have neither our values, nor the ability to communicate with other human beings.

Bryan Weinstein

Issaquah

 

IHS baccalaureate

‘Nondenominational’ event is offensive

This year, Issaquah High School’s baccalaureate, a religious ceremony that allegedly honors all seniors, was held at Eastridge Church, whose pastor spoke to the graduating students. This pastor and his followers believe that Jews, Hindus, agnostics and all other non-Christians will burn in hell forever: “We believe a final judgment will take place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire” (www.eastridgetoday.com/564807.ihtml).

So, the PTSA invited non-Christian students (and families) to a ceremony hosted by and featuring an individual who believes they all deserve damnation. How on earth does that honor those students? It’s astonishingly offensive.

It’s almost as bad as inviting black seniors to a “classwide” celebration at the KKK, which would be offensive even if the speaker never mentioned white supremacy. Likewise, the baccalaureate is offensive even if the pastor never mentions “punishing lake of fire.” PTSAs should never partner with people who declare that part of the community deserves torture (eternal or otherwise).

Worse, the PTSA spent almost $1,000, including paying rent to Eastridge. Thus, the PTSA devoted donations from non-Christian parents to an event (and organization) that offends many of those same parents.

Last year, Liberty High School’s baccalaureate speaker was Seattle director of Youth for Christ. Notice a pattern? These PTSAs have the gall to call these events “inter-faith.” Even if they truly were nondenominational, they’d still exclude nonreligious students.

PTSAs should stop injecting the divisiveness of religion into their events. When honoring all students, choose secular speakers and a secular venue that welcome all students, not just the Christian ones. That would show respect for the community’s diversity. If a baccalaureate is so important to religious parents, they can organize one on their own without PTSA money.

Matthew Barry

Issaquah

 

New parking lot

Costco will kill the Saturday market

An obscure little item in your newspaper May 21 noted that parking changes would occur for the Issaquah Farmers Market. I was flabbergasted to read that Costco will cut off parking for the farmers market this spring and summer.

Apparently, Costco will close the current parking lot and in exchange exhorts marketgoers to use the lot by the cinemas. Three problems here: There is barely adequate parking for the businesses surrounding this lot, it is very far away from the market and Costco refuses to let shoppers use acres of corporate parking just across the street when it is almost totally empty. This to me seems to be a crippling move for the market, which has become an institution and destination event.

How can the city permit this project during the very season the market is open? And what will be the impact of the new parking garage on Issaquah Creek, the vital lifeline for our signature salmon?

Steve Scott

Issaquah

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Comments

3 Responses to “To the Editor”

  1. Kendra Mills on June 15th, 2013 11:06 am

    This seems to be Matthew Barry’s personal chat room. Issaquah High School’s Baccalaureate didn’t even happen until the night of Tuesday, June 11. How was he able to submit a letter to the editor and have it published on this day?

    If he had in fact been in attendance, he would’ve known that the “featured” speakers were 2009 IHS grads who started what is now a successful business the end of their senior year at IHS and spoke to the graduates about pursuing their dreams and taking risks. As a member of this year’s Baccalaureate Committee, we were very sensitive to the fact that not all in attendance would be Christian or religious. We publicized the event as an “Inspirational Celebration” and welcomed performances by any and all seniors who wished to share their talent and message to fellow graduates. Some performed secular pieces, some religious, but it was their choice (as long as it didn’t violate general school rules about profanity, drugs, etc.). Yes, this event did take place at a church. Yes, we did pay a fee for the building use, but that is not uncommon. We considered using the beautiful new theater at IHS, but with the possibility of 400+ graduates, plus family and friends, there wouldn’t have been enough room. As it was, there were over 800 people in attendance. (Does Mr. Barry know of another location in Issaquah that is free and would provide a large, yet intimate setting for this event?). Yes, the youth pastor of Eastridge Church did make a few brief remarks to the graduates and gave a short prayer, neither of which expressed the idea of anyone “burning in hell” or deserving damnation.

    The next day, the same day Mr. Barry’s letter appeared in the Issaquah Press, there was an overwhelming response from the IHS community about how special and meaningful the event was. If Mr. Barry is going to continue with his finger pointing, at least he should have his facts straight !

  2. Administrator on June 17th, 2013 11:40 am

    Regarding the timing of the letter: It was sent in the week before, but we didn’t have the space to print it. Mr. Barry tweaked the letter to run after the event.
    We welcome letters from all of our readers for our Opinion page.

  3. Matthew Barry on June 18th, 2013 8:50 am

    —– “This seems to be Matthew Barry’s personal chat room.”

    I hear a fan website is in the works. Stay tuned.

    —– “How was he able to submit a letter to the editor and have it published on this day?”

    The IP has already explained above that I sent it a while ago. However, for the record, the IP incorrectly stated that I sent it “the week before.” Actually, I emailed it 18 days (almost 3 weeks) before the event. (And it was in the future tense at that point, not past tense.)

    I appreciate it any time the IP prints one of my letters (no matter how long it takes), but I have to say it’s a bit odd that the IP would then approve a comment that criticizes me for the timing of my letter when it was the IP that controlled the timing! Anyway, I trust that if the IP prints Ms. Mills’ post in the “From the Web” or Letter section, they’ll remove her unjustified criticism regarding timing. Btw, not only was it unjustified, but it was also irrelevant: Everything in my letter was accurate and my point stands no matter when it was published.

    —– “If he had in fact been in attendance, he would’ve known that the “featured” speakers were 2009 IHS grads who started what is now a successful business . . .”

    That’s nice. It’s also irrelevant. What I said in my letter was true: A pastor at Eastridge Church spoke to the students, a fact that Ms. Mills confirms below. That pastor, as I indicated in my letter, believes that all non-Christians (including any non-Christian seniors and parents in attendance) deserve eternal damnation. It’s offensive that the PTSA chose that person as a speaker. Pointing out that there were other speakers who WEREN’T offensive doesn’t mean that the speaker I mentioned as being offensive wasn’t offensive.

    —– “As a member of this year’s Baccalaureate Committee, we were very sensitive to the fact that not all in attendance would be Christian or religious.”

    No, you weren’t. If you were, you wouldn’t have chosen a speaker who believes (and proudly posts on their website) that a portion of the graduating class and their families deserve eternal torture in a punishing lake of fire.

    —– “We publicized the event as an “Inspirational Celebration” . . .”

    Oh, it was just “inspirational”? Please. A baccalaureate is, BY DEFINITION, a religious event. And the PTSA also publicized the event as a “spiritual event.” See http://issaquahhighptsa.org/Event/MonthCalendar. All thesauruses will confirm the close relationship between “spiritual” and “religious.” And it was at a church. And a pastor recited a prayer. And some of the student performances were religious. In summary, it would be disingenuous for anyone to pretend or imply that it wasn’t a religious event.

    —– “Some performed secular pieces, some religious, but it was their choice . . .”

    If the PTSA had a class-wide event at the local KKK and it was the students’ choice to promote white supremacy, it would still be inappropriate and offensive.

    —– “Yes, this event did take place at a church. Yes, we did pay a fee for the building use . . .”

    Thanks for confirming the accuracy of my letter.

    —– “. . . but that is not uncommon.”

    I don’t care if it’s common or uncommon. The PTSA took donations (and membership fees) from Jewish, Hindu, agnostic, and other non-Christian parents (and non-Christian staff and teachers, btw) and then gave their money to an organization that thinks they all deserve eternal torture. That’s offensive, Ms. Mills.

    —– “Does Mr. Barry know of another location in Issaquah that is free and would provide a large, yet intimate setting for this event?”

    First, who said it had to be free? Free is certainly better, but the PTSA should have no problem paying for a secular venue if it was already willing to pay for a religious venue. Second, why does it have to be in Issaquah? If seniors can travel to Safeco Field for graduation, certainly you could have expanded your geographic area a bit beyond Issaquah. Perhaps Sammamish or Bellevue, etc. Lots of big buildings all over the place. Third, it’s the PTSA’s job, not mine, to find a suitable (i.e., secular) location for a class-wide event. And it failed.

    If it’s a PTSA event, then the venue needs to be appropriate, not offensive. Period. Otherwise, let Christian parents organize a religious event at the church of their choosing, with all the ministers they like, all without PTSA money. The PTSA could then re-route that budgeted money to the senior breakfast or senior all-night party. Or, better yet, buy some books or art supplies or science equipment. Plenty of non-offensive options, folks.

    —– “Yes, the youth pastor of Eastridge Church did make a few brief remarks to the graduates and gave a short prayer, neither of which expressed the idea of anyone “burning in hell” or deserving damnation.”

    I already anticipated and dealt with that response in my original letter. Here, I’ll just repeat it, with the key points in all caps so you don’t miss it this time, Ms. Mills: “It’s almost as bad as inviting black seniors to a “classwide” celebration at the KKK, which would be offensive EVEN IF THE SPEAKER NEVER MENTIONED WHITE SUPREMACY. Likewise, the baccalaureate is offensive EVEN IF THE PASTOR NEVER MENTIONS “PUNISHING LAKE OF FIRE.” PTSAs should never partner with people who declare that part of the community deserves TORTURE (eternal or otherwise).”

    —– “If Mr. Barry is going to continue with his finger pointing, at least he should have his facts straight!”

    Given that Ms. Mills didn’t demonstrate a single error in my letter, I’m not sure what she’s referring to.

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