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Friday, September 21, 2007

From the Times: Letters to the Editor on DWT

Editor, The Times:

Regarding "Billing in 'pro bono' cases is fodder for ethics debate" [Times, Local News, Sept. 17] and "Winner ought not take all" [editorial, Sept. 18]: I am utterly disgusted with the decision of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine to bill the Seattle School District for its "pro bono" representation of the plaintiffs in the school-discrimination case before the Supreme Court. It claims it is doing so to "punish" the district, but it needs to ask: Who is the district?

It's us, the residents of Seattle who send our kids to public schools.

Davis Wright Tremaine may have the right to bill the district, but it is still morally wrong. I don't imagine that any of the bazillion lawyers there send their kids to public schools, but they ought to drive by one of the southend schools sometime and look at the kids whose money they are about to take.

Perhaps then Davis Wright Tremaine would find a sense of shame.

— Steve Roberts, Seattle

Close the books on this

Yes, Davis Wright Tremaine may get the right to sue Seattle Public Schools for $1.8 million (or probably more), but at what cost?

My daughter is a white girl from Ballard who was a part of the entering class of 1999 to which the original racial-tiebreaker suit applied. That suit was more about the parents than it was about the kids.

And this suit is all about the adults and not the kids. I would have hoped the high-minded "Parents Involved In Community Schools" group would have supported these same community schools, although their children (like mine) are now in college or beyond. Instead, it spoke of "repercussions" for ignoring civil rights.

How can the schools make any progress when they are confronted with lawsuits like this each time they try to make any changes? There was no malice here. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson deserves our support — not threats — to improve our schools for our kids. Our schools are finally in reasonable financial shape. "Repercussion" lawsuits will affect that status.

Davis Wright Tremaine may have a right to sue the school district legally, but I would hope it would follow the higher road and keep the case "pro bono" for all.

After all, what would Atticus Finch do?

— Sharon Longaker, Seattle

Hocking our moccasins

I understand you, Davis Wright Tremaine, are seeking financial compensation from the Seattle School District for the expenses incurred for the recently decided "pro bono" case.

On the day you have to set buckets on the floors of your law office because the rain from the leaky roof comes inside, I will support your actions.

On the day others have to send food and snacks to your attorneys and staff because they do not otherwise get healthy and adequate food at home, I will support your actions.

On the day your attorneys are paid the same salary as a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, I will support your actions.

On the day the majority of your staff takes public transportation to work — meaning that a 15-minute car ride will take one hour — I will support your actions.

On the day you are so short on supplies that attorneys spend their personal money to buy books for the firm, I will support your actions.

On the day you have to sell brownies or wash cars to go on a trip, I will support your actions.

On the day you have a public-health nurse assigned to your building because you otherwise would not get adequate medical care, I will support you.

— Elaine Dondoyano, mother of two in Seattle Public Schools, Seattle

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the pressure. I don't know that it will work with DWT, but it would at lots of other firms. I do wonder about the internal debate at DWT. Any moles there? Is it a pocketbook issue? Or is it an issue of principle?

Anonymous said...

Pocketbook and HK trying to bring up is per partner share having gotten stiffed by the Republican Party for Rossi v. Gregiore

Anonymous said...

Pocketbook and HK trying to bring up is per partner share having gotten stiffed by the Republican Party for Rossi v. Gregiore

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting that our former "Education Governor, Gary Locke, who is now a partner at DWT, has remained silent on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Locke might have some fiduciary duty to the partnership that would forbid him from taking an independent position. It was joining DWT that was a strange choice -- they are very associated with partisan politics in Seattle. That too must have been a pocketbook issue. I think it's hard for important people to be less than wealthy in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

SPS needs to pay and pay big. DWT won't give a hoot, believe me. If SPS is going to make idiotic decisions and stand behind them to the hilt, paying for them is the only thing that will make them think twice in the future.

Anonymous said...

Anon above:

SPS needs to pay big? SPS is us! Taxpayers. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Why should individuals (or DWT) have to pay to get relief from the district's poor policy? Duh, back at you. Perhaps next time, you won't be on the receiving end of the big, giant shaft. If there's no consequence, we'll all wind up paying later.