Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: March 2009

March
31st

Domestic partnerships: State should finish the job

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

An everything-but-marriage bill would scour state law for the smaller benefits and responsibilities denied same-sex couples.

In the law, there are sweeping, fundamental rights that shape people’s lives, and then there are the small privileges that simply make life more bearable.

Washington’s incremental march toward fair treatment for same-sex couples has scored big gains in the latter category over the last two years. They’ve won legal recognition of domestic partnerships, the right to be at their partners’ sick beds, protection under domestic violence laws and acknowledgment of community property, among others.

Now gay-rights supporters are back with an everything-but-marriage bill that would extend to registered domestic partners every benefit and responsibility now offered to heterosexual married spouses.

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March
31st

Calamitous budgets for calamitous times

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The state House and Senate propose to wreak havoc on essential services and public education. They didn’t have much choice.

You can quibble with line items here and there, but the broad categories of state spending – education, public safety, human services, environmental protection – are essential.

There’s just no way to rip billions of dollars out of those essentials without hurting countless Washingtonians.

That’s what the Senate and House of Representatives had to propose this week when they released the most brutal state budgets in memory. Even with $3 billion in federal stimulus money, the deep recession has forced Olympia’s budget writers to cut muscle and even bone from critical state programs.

This was never going to be pretty. Look at any part of either budget, and you find urgent priorities being sacrificed.

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March
30th

Trade war with Mexico: Where protection leads

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This state will be collateral damage if Congress placates unions at the expense of international trade.

Just what we need; a trade war in the middle of a recession.

Congressional Democrats blundered into that folly earlier this month when they used the recent $410 billion spending bill to bar Mexican trucks from the United States. Mexico has responded by slapping punitive tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of goods from this country – including Washington pears, cherries, apricots and frozen potato products.

This is exactly why economically illiterate protectionists shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near American trade policy.

Background:

Originally, Mexican cargo had to be unloaded into a warehouse then transferred to a U.S. truck after crossing the border. The requirement was costly, inefficient and insulting. The United States agreed in concept to open its roads to Mexican trucking when it signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

The Teamsters union and others did not like the prospect of competition with Mexican truckers. They raised legitimate safety and security issues, and Mexican trucking remained barred from this country as standards were developed.

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March
30th

SAMI sounds like heaven for math-science kids

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Arts-oriented students have SOTA, and come fall there will be a left-brain counterpart for those with a math-science bent.

Is there any rule against middle-aged editorial writers going back to high school?

If not, where’s the sign-up sheet for the Tacoma School District’s new Science and Math Institute – otherwise known as SAMI?

Who wouldn’t like to take a hike through Point Defiance Park for P.E., muck around on the beach for science class and learn about the physics of rock climbing? For kids who like math and science, SAMI sounds like a dream come true. No wonder competition is heated for the 130 to 140 slots in the school opening this fall.

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March
30th

How do you spell mea culpa?

We’ve gotten a raft of complaints from Roman Catholics – and at least one Lutheran – about a Mike Peters cartoon we ran a week ago Saturday that depicted the Pope covered by a condom.


It was a criticism of the questions he’d raised about the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa. Political cartoonists are not big on subtlety.


When possible, we respond to every critic who brings a complaint to us. Here’s one response I wrote today:


I’m sorry the political cartoon we published a week ago was the cause of

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March
30th

An income tax push?

This morning’s Senate budget release, which I watched on TVW, had the expected somber tone. There’s no joy in budget-cutting. The Democratic leaders repeatedly emphasized that this was a “balanced and responsible” budget, written as if it was the last word. No new taxes are planned, although they may revisit that after the public has absorbed the realities of the “all cuts” budget.


Then, this afternoon, Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown posted a brief item on her blog that appears to invite consideration of an income tax. Tantalizingly, she calls it “part 1″ and promises more tomorrow. Brown

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March
30th

For Tuesday: Mexican trucks, Tacoma’s SAMI

The Obama administration needs to resolve a dispute over Mexican trucks ASAP. Washington state cannot afford for the U.S. to get into a trade war with Mexico.


Tacoma School District’s new Science and Math Institute sounds like a dream come true for some kids. No wonder the competition is heated for the initial 130 to 140 slots in the school opening this fall.


If you have comments or questions about these topics, please email them to patrick.ocallahan@thenewstribune.com. Editorials represent the consensus view of The News Tribune’s editorial board.


Want to sit in on a

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March
29th

A bold new initiative for homeless families

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Parents and children need homes. The goal is to reduce the rate of family homelessness in Washington by 50 percent.

Family homelessness is a big problem. It needs a big solution.

A broad public-private partnership – including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pierce County – is out to come up with that solution. Last week, Gov. Chris Gregoire, the executives of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, plus the Gates foundation and Building Changes (a homeless advocacy group), jointly launched an ambitious new initiative against homelessness.

The initiative will expand an existing program called the Washington Families Fund. It is aiming high: the goal is to reduce the rate of family homelessness by 50 percent over the next 10 years. That would put roofs over the heads of a lot of children and parents. Right now, roughly half of the state’s homeless population consists of families. Washington’s public education system estimates that as many as 13,000 schoolchildren don’t have houses of their own.

Homelessness hurts children in many ways. Children without an address suffer much higher rates of depression than their peers. They have twice the rate of learning disabilities, three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems. Sometimes families must separate to survive.

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