Fearmongering and misinformation - that's what characterized prominent opponents to the light rail. Now we're seeing the same tactics applied to Casa Latina coming to Rainier Valley. I think it's no coincidence that lower income people are the predominate beneficiaries of both projects, nor that the opponents are many of the same people.
Fred Quarnstom's letter in the March 16 issue is a case in point. One thing we learned at the big meeting at the Mt. Baker Community Club is that the problems at the Belltown site have a long history. In fact Casa Latina was asked by the city several years ago to set up a Latino day-labor operation at the Belltown site to lessen the problem of too many day laborers on the street trying to flag down work. And they did just that - they organized many of the workers, making it easier for employers to get reliable laborers and for workers to avoid unscrupulous employers. Still, some drunkards are found in the mix, using the workers as cover while taking advantage of nearby support services.
Casa Latina's day labor operation will be moved indoors and employers will be strongly encouraged to make prior arrangements by telephone or email. The unorganized workers and employers will maintain the 80-year tradition of day labor pick-up at the convenient Belltown site. In fact, Belltown business people see the problems getting worse when Casa Latina leaves since it will be harder for Casa Latina to organize the day laborers from Rainier Valley. All this is directly contrary to Quarnstom's claims that "lawless tag-a-longs" will follow Casa Latina to Rainier Valley or that Belltown wants Casa Latina to leave.
And why is Quarnstom so afraid of meeting one on one with City Council people? Perhaps they know too much. In fact Councilmembers Conlin and Della are to be commended for speaking forthrightly on the panel at the Mt. Baker meeting, while candidates Bolanos and Pelz were in the audience. Let's welcome Casa Latina.
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