Dear Joel Connelly: You, sir, are a hack

Bell St. Boulevard Sketch

Dear Joel:

You recently wrote a letter to Jeff Lee, the owner of Two Bells restaurant in Belltown. I had the opportunity to read this “letter” on the PI’s website – mainly because it wasn’t really a letter, but a column. Actually, it wasn’t really much of a column, either. I’d say it was more of a thinly veiled attempt to exploit a small business owner in order to vent about how the city’s road work is ruining your hamburger-eating experience.

Joel, I’m guessing in the transition to an online newspaper, the “fact checking” department didn’t make the PI’s cut. Your column was misinformed, misguided and, frankly, rabble rousing.

Where to start, Joel? How about we start with the trio of questions you ended the article with: “Does the city ever help business in Belltown? If so, how? If not, what ought it do?” You assume that fixing streets and incorporating open space into an urban nieghborhood are bad for business. In what universe do you live, Joel? Because in my universe, a city that maintains its infrastructure and creates lively open spaces is the type of city people want to live in. And guess what? Those people are the ones that then go to places like Two Bells to have their burgers (read: Jeff doesn’t make his living off of your appropriation of Two Bells for various interviews, no matter how many times a week you may go there).

So, that was a bad start. But then it got worse. You decried the mayor for using the Bell St. Boulevard proposal as part of his mayoral re-election campaign. Huh. So are we then to conclude from your words that the mayor should avoid visionary proposals because it’s an election year? Last time I checked, mayors should be doing projects like this all the time. So don’t critisize him for proposing a visionary project – critisize for not proposing more visionary projects.

But this is beside the point, Joel. It’s beside the point because the Belltown community is asking for this project. It wasn’t forced on them. They want more open space, but the lack of city-owned land (and the incredibly high prices land fetches there) makes this very difficult. And so Belltown, the city, and SDOT came together to put together an incredibly visionary solution – use the Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy money approved last year and current city-owned rights of way to open up a green belt through the center of Belltown.

Oh, right. The parks levy. Remember that? It must seem strange to you that I’m even mentioning a levy, because you apparently completely forgot we approved one last year. That $2.5 million dollars you suggest should go elsewhere – that’s park money. It goes to parks and open space. That’s what it’s for. We were asked if we wanted to tax ourselves to create more parks and open space, and we said “YES!” You know what else it does? It creates jobs. That’s why in tough economic times, governments pursue infrastructure projects. They better our neighborhoods, and they create jobs.

This is not about the mayor, Joel. And it certainly isn’t about you.  It’s about creating a more beautiful and prosperous city. It’s being creative in responding to our challenges. And you know what we need? We need help. We need you to contribute to a grander vision and not crap on it. Right now, sir, I smell crap.