Inside Opinion

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

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Archives: April 2009

April
30th

Swine flu conspiracy theories

Editorial writers around the country are talking about the nation’s reaction to swine flu. They’re split about 50-50 on whether Americans are going overboard in closing whole school districts, canceling state sports tournaments, urging people to stay off subways. After all, people die of the flu every year.

The writers, tongues firmly planted in cheeks, are suggesting possible reasons for all the hype. Here are the going theories:

“Two words: Sweeps week.”

“Media tired of talking about the economy.”

Read more »

April
30th

Kill the Electoral College? Let’s hear both sides

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

While most people were focused on what lawmakers were doing about Washington state’s $9 billion deficit, a potentially momentous election measure quietly made its way through the 2009 Legislature.

Senate Bill 5599, which was signed into law Tuesday, is designed to elect presidents by straight popular vote, thus turning the Electoral College into a quaint constitutional fossil.

This would effectively amend the U.S. Constitution, in concert with other state legislatures. That’s an ambitious agenda for a measure that wouldn’t amend even the state constitution. The idea hasn’t gotten nearly enough public debate, so it’s good to see opponents launching a referendum that would force a real discussion of its merits.

SB 5599 is part of a multi-state effort called National Popular Vote. The strategy is ingenious.

Legislatures would be persuaded, one by one, to join a compact under which their states’ electoral votes would automatically be awarded to the presidential candidate who won a majority of votes nationwide.

Read more »

April
30th

Swine dragged through the mud

You may have noticed that President Obama is taking pains to call swine flu by its medical designation, H1N1, so as not to antagonize the swine farmer lobby. Now the World Health Organization has announced it too will refrain from fouling swine’s good name.


I like how agricultural officials in Illinois chose to drive home the message that pigs are still safe to eat.


CAPRON — Swine flu fears have caused Capron Elementary School to call off its plans for a "kiss the pig" contest.


Agriculture experts say it’s a good thing, because they wouldn’t

Read more »

April
30th

Going after gamblers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.


State shouldn’t up the ante for problem gamblers

Parents of impressionable children, beware: If a pilot program now under way is successful, an advertising blitz for state-sponsored gambling could be coming to your neighborhood convenience store.

The “Enhanced Lottery Retailer” merchandising campaign at five mini-marts in the South Sound area includes brightly colored placards, eye-catching signs advertising jackpot sizes, new dispensers and other features designed to spur impulse purchases of scratch lottery tickets.

Read more »

April
30th

For Friday: Now, for an actual debate about the electoral college

The Legislature quietly passed a measure aimed at undoing the electoral college formula in presidential election. Now – with a referendum filed – let’s have the debate.


Giving people an extra nudge to buy lottery tickets would be unseemly during good times. But during bad times, when people are more desperate than ever for an economic boost and may be more susceptible to a glitzy marketing campaign, it’s just wrong. (This editorial was held today to make room for a swine flu editorial. We’ll post it on the blog early today.)


If you have comments or questions about

Read more »

April
29th

Migrant-flu link demands crash response

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington has a huge back door standing wide open to the swine flu: the migrant farmworker stream. The state’s public health agencies should be launching a crash effort to reach this population.

Most of Washington’s migrant farmworkers are Mexican. Many of them – or their friends, or their families – are likely to have been in Mexico recently or had close contact with someone else who’s been there.

This population is at obvious risk of carrying and transmitting the swine flu.

Another problem: Migrant farmworkers often travel in crowded vehicles and live close together in migrant housing.

Another problem: Migrants don’t have regular doctors. Few have any kind of health insurance. Although they can seek medical treatment at community health clinics – some of which focus on farmworkers – many are simply disconnected from the American health care infrastructure.

Yet another problem: Migrants tend to lie low – to remain disconnected from mainstream institutions – to avoid deportation. Some may fear stepping forward for treatment.

Read more »

April
29th

Tacoma City Hall, meet the recession

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The latest sign that the economy is bad, really, really bad: The City of Tacoma is, in the words of a city councilman, having to cinch its belt one notch tighter.

City Hall had been an oasis of relative prosperity. While the state’s businesses laid off workers by the thousands and the Legislature grappled with a $9 billion shortfall, Tacoma city government seemed largely immune to the ravages of the recession, thanks partly to healthy reserve.

Just a few months ago, the City Council felt flush enough to spend $4.6 million on overhauling the city’s salary schedule, a move that bumped nonunion employees pay up by as much as 15 percent. The council almost handed City Manager Eric Anderson a similar raise last month before he wisely declined.

Now it appears that Tacoma won’t ride out the downturn as easily as it expected.

Read more »

April
29th

Legislators vote – but sometimes not

WashingtonVotes.org released its annual Missed Votes Report today, and the Pierce County delegation looks pretty good.


The Perfect Attendance Award for always showing up to vote is shared by Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard; Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood; Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Tacoma; Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham; Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup; Rep. Skip Priest, R-Federal Way. None of them missed a single vote (out of 847 in the Senate and 887 in the House). That’s impressive.


On the other hand, Rep. Dennis Flannigan, D-Tacoma, had by far the highest number of missed

Read more »