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August 15, 2007

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Attend Public Meeting:
Wednesday, Sep. 19 3:30 pm
700 5th Ave, 40th Floor
Stand up for historic preservation!

Built in 1900, the Fitch/Nutt House in Fremont is one of the oldest houses in a neighborhood where true Craftsman homes are being replaced by "craftsman-style" condos as fast as track hoes can reduce them to splintered wood and plaster dust. Things being what they are, the house is slated for destruction. A local preservationist made some quality color posters and hung them all over town, citing reasons the house should be spared. The topic was to be on the agenda of the Department of Neighborhoods Preservation Program monthly meeting today at 3:30.
   Mid-afternoon is not a very convenient time for most working schleps to attend public meetings, but as luck would have it I got off early. By chance, Craig was off, too, and Sarah's flexible schedule allows her to step out as needed. So, although we would rather have been at the beach, we rode the good old #5 downtown to the municipal building, express elevator to the 40th floor, where the meeting was already underway with the Fitch/Nutt House on the agenda for 4. There was to be a public hearing and we had all prepared statements. In a nutshell, I wanted to say that culture is contingent on continuity and efforts should be made to preserve physical links to the past. A society which does not value its history will have a bleak future.
   We sat down, only to be told perfunctorily that the house discussion had been postponed until September 19. My first thought was to jump up and blurt out "When was that announced?" but I kept silent and am kicking myself for taking it sitting down. I imagined my feisty inner grandma shaking her cane at the room and shaming the complacent bureaucrats for treating their constituency so dismissively. But we just put our names and emails on a slip of paper for future announcements and filed out.
   Well, at least the view from the lobby was nice. It was a view of privilege, the kind those literally at the top enjoy while making their plans for the little people far below. From up there one could see I-5 snaking through the city, a ribbon of concrete which should have gone around Seattle but cut through it instead, destroying some neighborhoods and separating those remaining. One could see headquarters, a former public hospital leased from the city in one of the more brazen giveaways in a city notorious for sweetheart deals. There are the pro sports stadia, tax-funded money making machines for billionaires--the ballpark citizens voted against but which was built on their dime anyway and the football stadium (pronounced stay dumb) narrowly approved by voters hoodwinked by false promises.
   And those are just some of the more blatant betrayals of public trust in recent years. Who knows how many less spectacular swindles have occured or are in process. It's the same subtle corruption that infects city politics everywhere, probably. But that doesn't mean we should roll over and take it up our apathies.
   One good thing about this postponement is that it gives more time to rally for a strong turnout. It's important to make our voices heard and let it be known that the public good means more than lining the pockets of a few well-heeled developers. I hope you will attend the 9/19 meeting.