Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Archives: March 2008

March
28th

Weekend editorials: Stay tough on math standards

Saturday:


We believe in respecting the Makah Tribe’s whaling treaty rights. But the tribe only weakens its claim when it fails to enforce its own internal rules against the tribal members who bumbled an illegal killing of a whale and ended up torturing the animal to death. We’re glad to see that at least three of the accused whalers will go to trial in federal court.


Sunday:


The Legislature’s abandonment of the math WASL this session will turn out to be bone-headed unless sufficient rigor is enforced in the new "end of course" exams that are to

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March
28th

Different takes on toxic toys bill

Dave posted yesterday about the flurry of interest from the children’s products industry over our mention that an editorial supporting the state’s toxic toy bill might be in the offing.


We ended up talking with representatives of Mattel, the Toy Industry Association and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which includes carseat makers who say the law as written would outlaw their products.


They made some good points about how the bill, given more time, could have been more finely crafted. The Legislature did hurry this one through, probably due to the

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March
28th

Shellfish company irked by article

Today’s front-page news article headlined, “Geoduck harvest suddenly in limbo,” drew a quick response from the aggrieved party — in this case Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms.


A Pierce County hearing examiner had ruled that the firm couldn’t harvest some 900,000 planted geoducks on Case Inlet because its 5-year permit for the site was expired.


Dewey complained that the article omitted a key piece of information:


The article totally omitted that we’d been lead to believe by the county PALS staff that the permit did not expire and that no additional permit was required

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March
28th

Sheraton woes

Spotted a story in the Wall Street Journal this week that should make us awful glad that the Tacoma Sheraton is no longer a Sheraton.

The Journal reports:

The Sheraton brand has slipped so far in quality and consistency that Starwood executives say it can’t charge as much for rooms as some competitors. The company has embarked on a three-year project to renovate hundreds of hotel and open dozens more.

That won’t be easy, though, because Starwood Hotels & Resorts, owner of the Sheraton company, doesn’t actually own most of its hotels. It would have to persuade owners and franchisers to foot the bill for upgrades. (Full story below).

Portland-based Provenance Hotels bought the Sheraton Tacoma a couple years ago and initially planned to continue it as a Sheraton franchise. Instead, Provenance decided to invest $22 million turning it into the glass-art themed Hotel Murano, with spectacular results.

Thank goodness.

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March
27th

If you like trees, you’re a Nazi!

Whoa, talk about over the top. The Building Industry Association of Washington is known for bare-knuckle politics, but some of the stuff in the group’s latest newsletter is just wild.


BIAW President Brad Spears, a Spokane homebuilder, tries to tar all environmentalists as extremists by associating them with the “eco-terrorists” who torched three homes on Snohomish County’s “Street of Dreams” last month.


Spears blames the Earth Liberation Front – although investigators have not confirmed a link to the group. Somehow Spears links muddle-headed teachers, Al Gore and King County Executive Ron Sims as

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March
27th

High apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes

I don’t know if breaching the four lower Snake River dams is a lost cause, but it’s been around for lots of years without getting the political traction it needs in Congress.


Two would-be dam-breachers – Michael Garrity of

American Rivers and Todd True of Earthjustice – came by today to make the arguments again. They’re hanging their hopes on an upcoming federal court decision on whether the Bush administration’s latest proposal to protect salmon runs in the Snake River satisfies the Endangered Species Act.


Chances are, it won’t. That doesn’t mean the

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March
27th

Fight over toxic-toys bill heats up

Word gets around: Editorial writer Kim Bradford noted on the blog Wednesday that we’re preparing an editorial on the toxic-toy bill awaiting the governor’s signature.

Bingo, we got emails this morning from a representative of an association that represents makers of children’s carseats, and from Bill Stauffacher, a Pierce County political consultant representing the Toy Industry Association, and from a representative of Mattel, the big toymaker. Here’s Stauffacher’s pitch:

The legislature passed a bill with extremely low standards that apply to all parts of the toy – but offered no flexibility for accessible and non-accessible electronics (jacks, "lead free" solder, resistors), inaccessible parts (screws, axels, and joints) and phthalates widely used in plastic wiring and non-mouthable plastic parts of a toy. Many toys simply won’t meet the one-size-fits all standard established in Section 3 of the bill.

Additionally, small toy retailers are saying the bill’s costly testing and reporting requirements will lead toy makers (especially smaller niche toy makers) to avoid Washington State.

This issue is much more complicated than it appears. All parties – customers, toy makers, retailers – want safe toys and this goal can be achieved. But common sense arguments deserve a fair hearing.

A Wall Street Journal story Wednesday gave a good overview of the issue from a national perspective, noting that Washington is one of many states taking action due to inaction by federal regulators.

And this just in from the Washington Toxics Coalition:

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