Newspaper Archive of
Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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February 2, 1994     Mercer Island Reporter
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February 2, 1994
 

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Mercer Island OPINION Wednesday, February 2, 1994 Mercer Island Editorial REPORTER Jane A. Meyer Editor and General Manager Linda Morgan Associate Editor PO. Box 38 0 Mercer Island, WA 98040 7845 5.5. 30th Sr. 0 Mercer Island. WA 98040 232—1215;fax:232v1284 Blueprint for change street plan which will change the look of Mercer Is- Last week, the City Council approved the $3.5 million land’s downtown more dramatically than anything in its history. It’s a far-reaching plan aimed at making the CBD more attractive and pedestrian-friendly, and pro- moting the revitalization of the downtown retail core. Wider sidewalks will replace the narrow, buckling ones that make walking downtown like negotiating an obstacle course. New street furniture, more trees and benches, tex- tured pavers, tree grates, new landscaping — all Will greatly improve the look of our downtown. And because of federal matching money and grants the city has won, the street renovation project will be done with- out new taxes of bond issues. So, who would be against wider sidewalks? They mean narrower streets —— and that’s the part of the plan that some have a hard time swallowing. It bumps up against our old habits, and will force us to change the way we move in and about our town. It’s not going to be easy. Old habits die hard, and traffic patterns evolve over time. The plan is built on the premise that streets should not all function in the same way, that different configurations en- courage different uses. The plan will encourage people to choose to drive down 77th, 78th or 80th depending on their purpose and destination. It’s not a matter of cars versus pe- destrians, sidewalks versus streets. The plan attempts to ac- commodate both but in getting there, we’ve got to give up a little. It’s a good plan with a few trouble spots. And although the council gave its blessing on the plan, many details still need to be worked out. Luckily, the sequencing of the project al- lows work to begin while there’s still time to fine-tune it. One trouble spot is the angle parking on SE. 27th Street. The council backed off from the removal of the angled park- ing, and recommended it for further study. It was a good idea. If there’s one area in the CBD that “works” as an at- tractive area of retail activity, that is it. Why mess with suc- cess? The other is access for the fire station. The final design must ensure that fire engines be able to enter and exit easily, without compromising safety and speed. Wisely, the council is setting up two committees to work on the details. One, made up of representatives from the Design Commission and Arts Council, will make the final aesthetic decisions. The other will bring together engineers and, prop- erty owners to focus on specific areas block by block. The street plan is an important framework, but much of the plan’s success worked out. Crime,_budget, ethics top By Rep. Jim Horn The 1994 legislative agenda was largely set by Washington’s voters last November when they passed Initiative 601 and over- whelmingly approved the “ Three Strikes, You’re Out” initiative. The session will be dominated by reducing the state’s budget, get— ting tough on crime and ethics re- form. The state’s biennial budget passed in odd-numbered years is fine—tuned in even-numbered years. This supplemental budget is expected to address changes in our state’s projected revenue as well as the needs of our citizens. Governor Lowry proposes to reduce general fund spending by $93 million out of a total budget of 816 billion. That is equivalent to a family making $50,000 reducing their budget by $290. Less than one year ago, the governor and majority Democrats imposed over $900 million in new taxes and fees. Now they are “generously” offering to return 10 percent of that increase. About $22 million of the pro- posed cuts would come from col- /. “I’d like them to be more re- sponsive and remember that they’re working for us. They should watch spending and be sure their priorities are in or- der.” . Doug Christensen retired will rest on how well the details are Rep. Jim Ho leges and universities. As your 4lst District Legislator, I have consistently worked to secure funding for additional enrollment slots at Bellevue Community Col- lege. I am very concerned that if the governor’s budget reduction plan is implemented, those enroll- ment increases will be lost, thus denying our Eastside youth ac- cess to further education. LAST YEAR Republicans iden- 'Island...signaled; .. “To get rid of waste in govem- ment spending — in regards to funding programs.” Eric Napoleone owner, Cafe ltallano Bravo to the school board Clearly the statistics show that the Mercer Island High School’s graduation requirements do not negatively impact students. On the contrary, the 19 credit gradua- tion requirement probably bene— fits the five percent of the gradu- ating class who attain the mini- mum standard. The high school’s less than one percent drop out rate speaks for itself. The Mercer Island School Dis- trict has its problems. Graduating a successful senior class is not one of them. Bravo to the school board in its decision not to be- labor graduation requirements. Let their energies and volunteer time be spent on more serious is- sues confronting the school dis- trict. Brenda Paull 'What do test lllllul llllnullwlll scores mean? Mercer Island 11th graders’ scores on state standardized tests have taken a “dive...” According to my understanding of the cur- rent semantic range of the word “dive,” the writer of the opening paragraph of a front page article in the Jan. 19 Reporter implied that our 11th graders are failing fast or that the high school teach- ing staff has failed them. This conclusion was based on the re- cently published test scores from the Office of the State Superin- tendent of Public Instruction. It was just a collection of num- bers but I had to get to page 7 of the Reporter to discover that no one qualified has had time yet to find out what the numbers mean. Perhaps other districts have improved so dramatically that Mercer Island no longer is so far ahead. Wouldn’t that be good news for all children? Perhaps the test stinks. There are legiti- mate questions about the validity of even the best standardized tests. Perhaps our teachers are so good at providing our children with skills for the let century that a hopelessly dated measure- ment tool is inadequate. In such a case, we should be thankful that our students are not staying at the same place on the scale, Or. per-. haps — but I doubt it — our stu—" dents are not getting such a good education. I don’t know yet, what the numbers mean, if anything. tified over $800 million in “budget scrubbing” ideas through policy changes, administrative improve- ments and management reforms. Such economies would not affect the delivery of services to our citi- zens. These budget-saving oppor- tunities continue to be ignored while important programs such as higher education are expected to undergo budget reductions. I feel that this is entirely the wrong approach. Since the beginning of session, 1,300 bills have been introduced, including nearly 200 crime-related bills. For five years, I have served on the Governor’s Criminal Jus- tice Funding Task Force which spearheaded the 1990 effort to sea cure $111 million for high crime cities and counties and overbur- dened criminal justice systems. That money, from motor vehicle excise tax, due to expire in De- cember 1993, was permanently se- cured last session. Mercer Is- land’s share, $42,508, is used for “A state income tax.” David F. Snoeberger retired engineer . I I I The numbers need a good in- terpreter or two to make sense of them. At least, give someone time to interpret the numbers before 11th graders take a “dive.” A number is just a number. Report the num- ber, if you must, but please don’t tell me what it means this way. This may not be Lake Wobegone but Garrison Keillor is right -— all of our children (even 11th graders) are above average — 20 percent above average according to SP1. Not bad! Jack Olive On bilingual program As coordinator of the Mercer Island School District Bilingual Program, I wish to respond to the article involving foreign students (Jan. 19 issue) and to explain the district’s bilingual program. The Procedures Relating to Foreign Students and Exchange Student Programs grew out of a need to formulate a written policy to pro- vide an appropriate educational placement and to ensure the prop- er adult support for foreign stu- dents. The policy was written for the benefit of our school district and our foreign students, not to acorrect any problem or abuse committed by our foreign stu-‘ dents. CouGRATULMmS, MIME! You Re OIDSETO Active FDRCMOGR‘. \‘l ‘ll 4., . ~.._. :.__:__J A small number of foreign stu- dents come without parents or sponsors for an American educa- tion. At Mercer Island High School this number is under 10, an increase from former years, but not a “large infux.” Approximate- ly 30 other international students attend MIHS on official exchange programs or live with parents or family members on Mercer Is- land. The district bilingual program serves between 60 to 65 students whose first language is not Eng- lish. These students attend Island Park, Islander Middle School and MIHS. Many bilingual students achieve top honors and partici- pate in student activities such as athletic teams, music programs or school clubs. Yes, in the begin- ning the lack of English presents special problems to us as teach- ers, but for the most part within a year or two it is difficult to re- member the struggles. At the secondary level the ac- quisition of English writing skills and reading comprehension is more difficult. We have been ex- ploring ways to provide teacher and student support as well as to grant the appropriate credit. I wish I could describe the many successes of our bilingual students but not enough room re- mains. I remind the reader of the ' talented Lily Yu, highlighted in The Reporter (Jan. 19). Lily came to Island Park knowing no Eng- lish. One of the tools her teachers \, “\f‘ l 5.4... :l i all In ill. .,_ K‘: "/27. ms:— II IIIII l ' Will; i ill used was her artistic talents. She would draw pictures and tell her story which the teacher would.“ write. Eventually, she wrote her own stories to accompany her' drawings. Who knows, Lily might use her “American” characters to draw books for Chinese chil-» dren, linking her two cultures, Lin is just one of the talented bi- lingual students. Bilingual students challenge us to recognize the benefits of speak-j ing a second language and under-‘1 standing another culture. I am. thankful that I have the opportu- nity to work with such creative,. energetic and hard working stu-] dents. Patricia Malatesta Another perspective I am a foreign student and I I am a part of Mercer Island High“ School. Last week, I read the arti- cle in the Mercer Island Reporter (Jan. 19). It talked about problems with foreign students. After I fin- ished that article, I felt very up— H set. I come from an Asian country, I have been living on Mercer Is- land for almost two years. Mercer , Island is a really simple place. When I first arrived here, I at- tended MIHS as a sophomore. — Please see ‘Letters’ on .47., legislative agenda for ’94; during the 1994 session include: the D.A.R.E. program, which teaches children about the dan- gers of drug use. In the recent survey I mailed to 4lst District voters, criminal justice was listed as their number one priority, followed by K-12 edu- cation. Our citizens are demanding that our state get tough on crime. Bills proposed to address this con- cern would deny possession of guns by minors, carrying guns in schools and parks, tougher sen- tencing for offenses committed while armed, lifetime imprison- ment fix“ third-time felons and banning of some types of weap- ons. While we will assuredly pass legislation this session to “get tough on crime,” we must look be- yond these measures and support agendas that will address the broader issue of violence in our communities. THAT SAME survey rated transportation the third highest priority of local citizens. As a member of the legislative Trans- portation Committee, I’m pleased that several projects are planned or underway to improve our local highways. However, I was very disap- “I’d like them to continue to fo- cus on giving us cost-effective government, and also to address and fully discuss the issue of violence in society and end the manufacture and sale of hand guns 1 Jim Trombold ' physician pointed last session when the Gov- ernor stole $117 million in trans- portation funds to balance the state’s general operating budget. The planned SR 520/ SR 202 inter- change near Redmond was one of many projects deferred because of insufficient funds. With the passage of a 4 cent per gallon state gas tax increase in 1990, the Legislature promised our citizens to complete those pro- jects. I have joined several other legislators in an effort to restore those funds to the transportation budget. I Regional Transit Authority of- ficials were hoping the Legisla- - ture would consider funding at least one-third of the proposed $13.2 billion rail/bus transit pro- ject through a sales tax on gaso- line this year. Since Initiative 601 requires. a public vote on tax in- creases prior to July 1995, this now seems to be a moot point. Some local transportation im- provement projects funded by the state include repair of Mercer Is- land city streets, erosion control, landscaping and installation of noise-reduction walls along I-90 on the Island and additional HOV lanes along SR 405. Other key issues to watch for “Gun control.” Dave Werbeck sales, steel tubing “My preference is that the Gay tRights issue is, not determined 5' of-state. I'd like the Legislature to assure us that everyone has equal rights no matter who they are. And I’d like stronger gun control.” welfare reform, regulatory re- form and new ethics guidelines. You may have recently read about my invglvement as a mem- ber of the Commission on Ethics in Government and Campaign Practices. Three bills emerged from our recommenda- have‘ tions: House Bill 2316 would pro-‘4 hibit the use of office to gain spe-\ cial privileges, prohibit the use of public resources for political cam- paigns, and establish legislative and executive ethics boards. HJR 4216 proposes to amend the state’s constitution to author- ize the establishment of an ethical conduct system for officers and employees of the judicial branchg of state government. House Bill M, 2317 seeks. to, modify the cam- paign-reform Initiative 134, which . was passed into law by 73 percent}: of the voters in November 1992. I do not support HB 2317. We only have until March 10 to: accomplish many things. As al—j; ways, I am interested in your SUg-M gestions and comments. Pleasef: feel free to write my office at Pots; Box 40681, Olympia, WA, 3 98504-0681. Or you may call me: through the toll-free legislative:a hotline at 1-800-562-6000. 3% (A! “Now that the state Legislature is back in session in Olympia, what is one thing that you would like to i. e the legislators accomplish?” h someone coming in from out- Mark Jensen export/import agency aairmen):aimsanaenaenaxscasaaassacrum-fl ‘r r. 3- .~ ‘ __....—._.....__._ w...