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Copyright 2000 The Seattle Times Company  
The Seattle Times

July 16, 2000, Sunday Final Edition


LENGTH: 2007 words

Reporter appears intent on ruining reputation for unknown purposes

   Alaska Airlines

Reporter appears intent on ruining reputation for unknown purpose

Editor, The Times: I was surprised to find an excerpt of my private personal correspondence to Alaska Airlines President Bill Ayer and Alaska Airlines vice presidents in your July 2 article "Did Alaska Airlines 'can-do' ethic go too far?" How Byron Acohido came into possession of my letter is not as immediately compelling as how The Times can purport to serve the public interest with their series of inaccurate and misleading articles. Furthermore, Acohido never contacted me to verify that I was the author. If Acohido finds my private correspondence candid, he should take to bed with him not only his Pulitzer aspirations, but the certain knowledge that the organization bestowing that honor will be similarly apprised of his many misrepresentations and errors of fact. I have been reading The Times' articles on Alaska with growing concern. That concern has evolved to skepticism, and finally, outright cynicism, not because of the sensitive nature of what is being reported, but rather the impressions the reader is left with given The Times' editorial bias. Journalism, not unlike commercial aviation, assumes an extraordinary degree of public trust. Both, we hope, embrace commitments to integrity and factual representations. The Times errors are numerous and egregious. I should like the opportunity to rebut them all in print, but this venue prevents doing so. As evidence, I offer a glaring example of Acohido's recklessness in his July 2 article wherein he reports an MD-80 (a two-engine aircraft) was ferried back to Seattle from Spokane with an inoperative engine. That a pilot would attempt such a feat is ludicrous. Yet, it is printed as fact. Your entire series of articles is littered with similar falsehoods. I might otherwise dismiss this falsity as a random misstep, but in light of The Times' refusal to print articles with due regard to the principles of fairness and balance, I can hardly cast a blind eye to the indiscretion. With regard to my letter to company executives: Yes, our culture is one that permits vigorous debate. I believe it is indicative of the regard our employees hold for their customers and our place in the community. I may have criticisms about my company, but I can assure you our culture is neither swashbuckling nor "scornful of rules by distant bureaucrats," as Acohido suggests. Far from it. My livelihood and very survival in some of the most demanding flying environments in the industry rests squarely upon a corporate culture whose cornerstone is the practical application of safety and service. The question I have to ask myself about the willful exclusion of rebuttals to Acohido's assertions and erroneous representations by The Times and others is best framed by the question Daniel Schorr posed of the Watergate leaks: "Why now, and who benefits?" Does the battle for readership have anything to do with damning headlines now that The Seattle Times is competing with the Post-Intelligencer for morning circulation? And what of Acohido, his incipient journalism and questionable ethics? Surely he knows about relevant issues concerning some former FAA inspectors and their assertions. Surely other Pulitzer-winning journalists would present relevant facts concerning those disputes. What agenda supports such virulent and reckless reporting? I resent The Seattle Times and Byron Acohido exploiting my private correspondence. It appears you are intent on ruining the reputation of Alaska Airlines and its employees for a purpose I cannot comprehend.

Capt. Michael August, Alaska Airlines Seattle

Estate tax

It's one of the fairest; raise estate standard

How could The Seattle Times use those words "death tax" in an editorial headline? It's not the death tax, it's the estate tax. And if it works a hardship on family farms and small businesses, why not simply raise the size of the minimum estate subject to the tax? Here's why the estate tax is one of the very fairest taxes there is: Most people who inherit estates have not done anything to earn the wealth they inherit. They were simply lucky enough to be born to wealthy people. Most of us aren't so lucky.

Ann Irish, Vashon

Hate crimes

Man, brother faced white supremacists

The hate crime committed against Minh Duc Hong and his brother on July 4 at Ocean Shores was hate crime number...? There have been too many racially motivated crimes committed in this country to even count; and the numbers are growing. Minh Duc Hong acted to defend himself and his brother when faced with a group of white supremacists hurling a barrage of racial epithets and threatening violence ("Ocean Shores death: claim of self-defense," July 8). Such neo-Nazi types have been proven time and again to kill on the basis of race.

I call on the rest of the Asian community, other communities of color, and all who oppose bigotry to support Hong and demand that the city of Ocean Shores hold a meeting about the very real dangers posed by neo-fascist violence.

Constance Daruthayan, Seattle


Militarism has caused the most suffering

It's so nice to see pictures of little girls in fatigues, read about Humvees, dog tags and "camo" netting and "this Bible school tour of duty" ("Bible-school recruits in 'God's army' now," July 9). I don't consider it fortunate in the least that we have organizations like the Bayview Baptist Church or people like Susie Gillikin. "It shows church in a fun, positive, relaxed way... Sometimes church can seem a bit stodgy or stiff." This militaristic indoctrination of "religion" or any indoctrination for that matter, is what has caused, by far, the most violent human suffering for centuries, and it goes on all over the world every day. The article's tone was all wrong and it should have been on the front page. I'm scared; but thanks for the update.

Daniel Shields, Seattle


We can save both boys and girls in school

I agree wholeheartedly with John Leo that the public-school system needs to re-examine it's treatment of boys ("It's tough being a boy in America's schools," John Leo, syndicated columnist, July 11). However, I do not believe that these beliefs negate a focus on the treatment of girls. Citing his specifics about boys, Leo appears to be saying that the true problem lies with the treatment of boys, and that there is no problem with the treatment of girls. To suggest that girls are not ill-treated is blatantly socially ignorant. Leo also spits out "feminist" as if it were a dirty word. Feminists strive for the equality of people, not one gender. Equality can only be attained when problems and the fact of inequality are discussed and recognized. To ignore the plight of women is not only sexist, it is ignorant. I'm for "saving the boys" but please, Leo, save the women. We can do both at once.

Bryna Koch, Bothell

Parental influence is key

As a teacher working to fight gender stereotypes, I must respond to John Leo's column concerning boys. Leo overlooks several factors regarding the disparities of classroom experience. Most importantly: Most parents encourage girls to be calm, reward them for obeying rules and dress them up so that vigorous play is not as easy as it is for boys. These same parents reward boys for boisterous behavior. Whether they like seeing their boys being boys or they try to punish them for it, the boys still end up with more attention. This contributes directly to their behavior in school. Leo seems to think it is threatening to ask boys to respect females. Truthfully, no child should be teased, ridiculed, or have their bodies made fun of - a zero-tolerance policy is perfectly appropriate Until there is less socialization for girls and boys, we will continue to see the problems Leo complains about (although he blames the wrong systems).

Emily Anderson, Seattle

Vehicle impound

Tougher ordinance might have saved life

If ever there was a clear example of the reason needed for full enforcement of the city's automobile-impound ordinance and expansion of its protections beyond the city boundary, the death of Richard King, 26, of Seattle is it. As related in the King County Superior Court trial and sentencing of Estelle Martinez, 22, she killed him by driving onto a sidewalk while trying to rid herself of cigar ash that she had flicked out the window but which came back onto her ("Driver who killed man on sidewalk gets 18 months," July 8). No amount of blame-shifting by Martinez' attorney could dissuade the judge from sentencing her to jail time, albeit a short term of only 18 months. In fact, she deserved much more for the crime of vehicular homicide. Martinez has never had a driver's license. In the opinion of many reasonable people, this is about as close to totally irresponsible driving behavior as one can get. The Seattle council members who resisted the temptation to gut the Seattle ordinance deserve our recognition.

Earl Bell, Seattle

Public transportation

Voters need to stand up for Monorail plan

I am a student at the University of Washington who is becoming increasingly incensed by the manner in which our city is dealing with issues of public transportation ("Hearing planned on Monorail proposals," July 11). The Monorail initiative passed last year and yet nothing has happened to promote the completion of the project. Meanwhile, the City Council is clearly trying to destroy the plan by suggesting other alternatives that do not provide a proper substitute for the original concept. By letting the council undermine the wishes of the voters, we are losing the power that was promised to us as a democracy. The Seattle Times needs to promote the monorail project. It is important for communities to come together and increase the versatility of our city.

Robert White, Seattle

David John Walker

Case not about race, but crime, protection

I am mystified as to why there would even be an inquiry into the police shooting of David John Walker ("Inquest into shooting begins," July 11). There seems to be some question about how the police defended themselves and the public against an armed thief simply because of the color of his skin. Is anyone suggesting that if a white man had stolen goods from a store, shot at unarmed citizens and wielded a knife at the police that the same results would not have occurred? It's absurd. Next, we are told that the inquest cannot be fair because there are no blacks on the jury. Isn't the object of an inquiry to arrive at the facts in the case based upon physical evidence and eyewitness testimony? Are the protesters suggesting that white men are prejudiced and only black men are objective? The very idea is itself extremely prejudicial. This case is not about race. It's about crime and the protection of innocent lives. Thank you, Seattle Police Department, for doing your job. Well done.

Marshall Dunlap, Kent

Prescription drugs

We'll see if lobbies will keep Gorton in office

I applaud the senior citizens who confronted old Sen. Slade Gorton for his lack of support for Medicare-covered prescription drugs. His resistance to vote with seniors is ridiculous. Gorton's opposition to providing health-care benefits that include contraceptive coverage also shows his lack of interest in decreasing unintended pregnancies and his lack of support for women in general. His support from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries must be huge if he can turn his back on the two largest blocks of voters: seniors and women. I guess we'll see in November if pharmaceutical and insurance companies are enough to retain him in office. I don't think so.

Maria Carter, Seattle



LOAD-DATE: August 26, 2000

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