Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor for the week of March 29

Council transparency: How’s it working out?

I almost have to laugh while I follow the antics of the new city council of Gig Harbor.

They came rushing into last year’s election, proclaiming all sorts of secrecy and backroom deals with the past council and convinced enough voters to believe “they were different.”

So what has happened since getting elected? The new council did a “”backroom” deal to put a moratorium on building in Gig Harbor. They make agreements of several millions to buy a controversial piece of land with nary a public hearing. They make false accusations against current and future restaurants and properties in the Millville area. How’s that transparency working so far?

Rick Johnson, Gig Harbor

Anti-schools group peddles misinformation

It’s incredibly disappointing that critical upgrades to our schools are in jeopardy because of a few vocal citizens who won’t support investments in our community unless it benefits them directly. It’s even more disappointing that they've resorted to half-truths and outright falsehoods to promote their agenda.

Their outspoken leader apparently believes in no government spending at all, rather than responsible investments. The “better way” they advertise was proposed by the school board several years ago and members of their “committee” rejected it. With such flip-flops and such negativity, how can we trust this group?

In contrast, our Peninsula School District leadership has been accountable and transparent. Near perfect state financial audits for 10-plus years clearly demonstrate this. The last bond, passed in 2003, was previously refinanced to save interest and is being paid off this year — five years early! The projects financed were exactly what the district said they would be when the bond was passed.

The bond now being proposed has been planned carefully and has bipartisan support. It replaces an expiring bond and will result in an overall reduction in school-related taxes by next year when it takes effect. This information isn’t a secret; it’s available for review on the district website.

These anti-school activists are peddling pessimism and misinformation, and I hope voters see through this charade. An investment in our kids is an investment in the future of our community, and a smart one at that. Please vote yes on the Peninsula School District bond!

Zachary Smith, Gig Harbor

Proud to seek Peninsula Light board reelection

I am proud to seek reelection to the Peninsula Light Company Board. As a representative board, job one for me always has been knowing the community and its needs and then providing direction to staff to address those needs.

The present board largely began their terms in an era of power outages measured in hours, days and weeks. Since then Peninsula Light engaged in an accelerated reliability campaign that places it in the first quadrant among peers. It’s much less frequent outages now are measured by minutes and winks.

Always recognizing that our members are our shareholders, Peninsula Light increased the availability of customer service to its members with an aim to keeping them informed about outages, having a warm body to talk to and a timely callback if that can’t happen. Perhaps most important, Peninsula Light delivers this “warm bodied” reliable power at prices which are mid-range compared to surrounding power utilities.

As Peninsula Light faces challenges with evolving technologies, declining power demand and those seeking to alter the positive, cooperative, member-oriented focus of our company, it is important that our members vote in the upcoming election.

Paul Alvestad, Peninsula Light Company board vice president

Stand up for Peninsula schools, vote yes

In Washington, we depend on school bonds for local communities to make up shortcomings in state funds. A bond has not passed in the Peninsula School District in 15 years, and the district needs our money to update unsafe, aging schools. The bond tax increase will be offset by a levy tax decrease starting next year, so taxes will go down.

Of our 15 schools, many are outdated and in need of significant maintenance to roofs, HVAC systems, utilities, fire protection and security. Some schools have had days with no drinking water, no working restrooms or water available for fire sprinkler systems. Is this the environment we want for our kids? It is a critical time in our district, where we still have fantastic teachers and active parental involvement in our schools. But what is going to happen when good teachers leave in search of a better environment? Then, the involved families will leave soon after.

It is beneficial for our community to vote yes for our schools. Many studies show strong schools and strong communities go together. Strong schools maintain and increase property values, provide a strong sense of community and lower crime rates.

Keep Gig Harbor great — support our schools, support families! Voting no on the bond will not stop growth in Gig Harbor and will not change how schools are funded in Washington. It will only hurt our local community.

Kristin Undem, Gig Harbor

Now is the time to vote yes on schools

“This community has high-quality schools.” As a high school and middle school counselor for 22 years in the Peninsula School District, I often heard this opinion from parents of students whom I registered upon entering our schools.

This has made us proud that the Gig Harbor area is known to value education for our children and willing to support the associated costs. I would say due to the competence and dedication of teachers and staff this opinion stills rings true. About our school buildings…not so much.

Over the years I have heard the same tirades dredged up as reasons to defeat a bond vote: money mismanagement; let’s put this off; now isn’t the time. But, now is the time.

Are we as a community OK with our schools’ leaking roofs, inadequate fire safety systems, students schooled in portables which can not be secured against an intruder? Are we content with knowing we will need 22 additional classrooms in two years and then voting down funding to build a new elementary school?

Should we put off maintenance to heating and cooling systems, knowing that deferred maintenance costs more in the long run? Can we really continue to think “this community has high-quality schools,” when the need for enhanced learning environments for science, performing arts, career and technical classes is so crucial — which other communities around us have done — and we haven’t?

Will this remain a community that values and supports high quality schools? Vote yes on April 24.

Phyllis Brandt, Gig Harbor