Letter

March 5, 2015

Building purchase shouldn’t be an issue

The Newcastle City Council recently voted to purchase a maintenance and storage building from the Coal Creek Utility District. In exchange for receiving a discounted price, the city agreed to a 10-year moratorium on the potential assumption of direct responsibility for water and sewer services.

Several current and former members of the City Council have registered vocal objections. They argue that the agreement is (a) illegal because it encumbers future councils, (b) unwise because it takes a reasonable option off the table and (c) it’s an unnecessary expense.

Limitations on future council action are neither illegal nor unusual. The city occupies office space under a long-term lease. Commitments to purchase and maintain our parks and to upgrade Coal Creek Parkway affected budgets over several years. Any issuance of municipal bonds requires repayment over an extended period. And the city attorney (an actual lawyer) approved the purchase. Read more

Editorial — Building agreement doesn’t pass the test

February 6, 2015

The Newcastle City Council agreed to spend $250,000 on a building it could get for free.

Let us repeat that — $250,000 of taxpayer funds spent on a maintenance operations building that could be had for nothing, well, mostly nothing.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

But that’s what the council narrowly agreed to with the recent 4-3 approval of the purchase-sale agreement to acquire a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building.

Sure, on the surface, it looks like a good deal — “I only have to pay $250,000 for a $750,000 building? What a steal!” — but more and more, this agreement is starting to feel like an iceberg. It’s what’s underneath the water that you should be worried about. Read more

Notes from Newcastle

February 6, 2015

City Hall wants to come to you

In an effort to better communicate with its residents, the city of Newcastle is reaching out to you. Community activities liaison Wendy Kirchner wants to bring City Hall to its residents, through presentations and meet-and-greets.

Here’s Kirchner’s pitch on how the city can help you get better acquainted with the staff that run the place you call home:

Newcastle city staff would like to come to your neighborhood! Are you interested in meeting your neighbors, making your area safer and learning about city services?

We all want to live in a safe, connected community, and we are looking for opportunities to share information about city services, neighborhood safety and discuss issues of concern. Read more

Our 2015 goals for a better Newcastle

January 2, 2015

As the city heads into the coming year, Newcastle continues to grow and flourish. Here are a few of our goals for the city in 2015.

Look to the future — The city has enjoyed a few years of financial stability, but looking at future forecasts, challenges are ahead as development revenues begin to disappear. Begin the discussion now, not later, to make decisions that will ensure the city’s financial future isn’t seeing red.

Keep an eye on Energize Eastside — Puget Sound Energy’s Community Advisory Group just selected its recommended routes, and both include proposed electric transmission lines through Newcastle. The company’s Energize Eastside process, aimed at upgrading power lines to fulfill the growing demand, is far from over, though. Make your voice heard and participate in the coming Environmental Impact Statement process and any other avenues offered to share your concerns. Read more

January letters

January 2, 2015

Join the fight to prevent PSE project

Thank you, Olympus residents who came to the Puget Sound Energy Community Advisory Group meeting Dec. 10.

There were more than 400 in attendance — standing room only. A lot of people were wearing orange to support the Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sensible Energy. I was the alternate attending the meeting around the CAG table speaking for Olympus. And I was one of the three that refused to vote on any final route, as any vote would harm our residents since segment M is in both remaining routes. The three of us not voting will sign a minority report and present it to PSE with the reasons why we did not vote.

Please go to cense.org — join the cause — get on the mailing list to follow what comes next, as it will help us continue the fight to keep this project out of our neighborhood, with alternate solutions to large towers and more wires. Read more

Notes from Newcastle: Library has help when you need it

January 2, 2015

My brother has probably always been mentally ill, but it wasn’t until he was in his late 20s that a psychiatrist confirmed his schizophrenia. Adding to his complexity, he is vulnerable with a developmental disability, a wandering soul and a fierce streak of independence.

Before I became his official caregiver in 1999, my family saw him evicted from apartments, thrown in jail and pursued by collection agencies, and he was one bad break away from becoming homeless. Flash forward 15 years and I’m happy to say, with the proper help from a variety of agencies, my brother is stable.

My personal experiences with my brother and my work as a public librarian make me keenly aware of the challenges some of our community members face. The Newcastle Library doesn’t often see the challenging societal issues some of our other King County Library System branches face, but we remain aware the need for assistance exists in every community, regardless of age, ethnicity or income level. Read more

Shop smart, shop local in Newcastle

December 4, 2014

The weekend after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping weekend of the year, and many small businesses rely on the holiday shopping period to ensure a successful year on the books, according to the federal Small Business Administration.

That’s why the day is known as Black Friday, because heavy sales often move a business from out of the red financially into the black.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet sent out a press release at the end of November reminding Americans to not only shop small on Small Business Saturday, but to purchase their Thanksgiving dinner items at local grocers, shop small at their local businesses and dine small at their neighborhood restaurants.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help small businesses get more customers. Its slogan is “When you shop small, it can lead to big things.” Read more

December letters

December 4, 2014

Educate yourself about Energize Eastside Program

As a resident and a physician, I am very concerned about Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside Program.

What started as a far-sighted request to upgrade an aging infrastructure and plan for future growth has been hijacked into an oversized project that benefits a foreign-owned private corporation (PSE) as it prepares to divest in 2017.

Local needs have been expanded into a crisis, and we Eastside residents are being asked to pay for a vastly oversized project that seems more suited to transferring power between Canada and California than meeting our expected growth.

The Coalition of Eastside Neighbors for Sensible Energy has enlisted the talents of Eastside residents, including electrical engineers and people who have worked in the power industry, and have unearthed documents, data and have subsequently proposed an alternative solution. This can all be viewed at its website, cense.org. Read more

Notes from Newcastle: Thank you

December 4, 2014

I’m a big fan of elegant televised award shows.

One of my favorite annual events is the Academy Awards. It’s a family tradition of sorts for my mom and I to order takeout from our favorite Italian restaurant and spend the evening watching everything from the red carpet arrivals to the final scrolling credits.

By the time we roll to the Oscars, there’s usually a pretty firm idea of who is going to win thanks to previous outcomes at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

That’s why it always annoys me a bit when actors seem so surprised, or have come unprepared with an acceptance speech, when he or she wins the ultimate golden statuette.

Well, I’m no Jennifer Lawrence or Meryl Streep, but I had a chance, however incomparable, to step in their shoes as I accepted a Newcastle Chamber of Commerce Diamond Award Nov. 20. Read more

Notes from Newcastle: Video killed the radio star

November 7, 2014

Since Newcastle News comes out only once a month, I split my duties between this paper and The Issaquah Press, a weekly.

I work on community features and Liberty High School sports for The Press, but I usually stay away from the more newsy Issaquah items, saving those for the main Issaquah Press reporter.

Well, we bid a sad farewell last month to Peter Clark, our Issaquah city reporter who moved on to greener pastures. In his absence, and while we searched for his replacement, I picked up the slack a bit.

That meant, for much of October, I shuttled back and forth between Issaquah and Newcastle city council meetings. It’s the first time I’ve ever really attended a council meeting other than Newcastle’s, so it was interesting to compare and contrast the two. Read more

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