Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Sep. 2009


Share the cost of health care premiums

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It took the worst recession since the Great Depression to force the issue, but Pierce County may finally do the unthinkable: require workers to share the cost of their own health insurance.

County Executive Pat McCarthy’s 2010 spending plan is a brutal budget for brutal times. But one of the economies it proposes has long been routine in the rest of the world: splitting the cost of premiums with county employees.

Assuming it’s adopted, this would soften the sweeping budget cuts McCarthy is proposing by a cool $3 million.

It’s amazing that any group of employees is getting free coverage these days. Predictably, this group belongs to the public sector. Private employers, facing market discipline, can’t afford such munificence. The most generous private coverage is generally found within large companies – and they require that employees foot at least a quarter of the bill, on average.

Fully paid premiums break budgets in a couple ways.

Up front, they cost the employer a fortune. According to McCarthy, Pierce County spends an average of $1,000 a month on each worker’s health insurance. Dependents are included regardless of whether they qualify for some other insurance plan. Superior court judges have enjoyed double coverage, from both the county and state.
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Samoan tsunami felt by many here, too

This is an anxious time for those in the South Sound’s large, close-knit Samoan and Pacific Islander community. That won’t change until they are able to make contact with friends and loved ones on islands devastated by Tuesday’s killer tsunami.

Many islanders died when four tsunami waves – each 15 to 20 feet high – struck about 20 minutes after an 8.0- to 8.3-magnitude earthquake south of the Samoan Islands. That’s the strongest earthquake to strike the world in the last two years.

Reports of casualties are flooding in from Samoa, the American Samoa territory and Tonga. At this writing, the death toll is 119 and expected to rise. Read more »


State’s pitch to Boeing offers nothing new

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The state’s new report trumpeting Washington’s aerospace advantages reads as if it were written by people convinced the competition for Boeing’s second 787 assembly line is either in the bag or out of hand.

Here’s hoping for the former. Washington workers and businesses can ill afford to lose this opportunity.

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The alternative to unilateral U.S. action can’t be no action at all

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

President Obama’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly last Wednesday was commonly received as a repudiation of the go-it-alone foreign policy associated with George W. Bush.

But there was a scolding embedded in Obama’s remarks that bears directly on Iran’s outlaw nuclear program:

“Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought – in word and deed – a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

In other words, the alternative to unilateral American action against potential nuclear terrorism cannot be no action at all. Given that choice, Obama – or his successor – will ultimately act in America’s interests. Bank on it: That’s what presidents do.

In this case, the United States and humanity in general share a compelling interest in keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of a radical regime committed to intimidating Arab governments and destroying Israel.
Israel’s own nuclear arsenal is one of the harrowing realities at the core of this dispute. Iran’s ostentatious test-firing this week of missiles capable of hitting Israel is a reminder of how scary this could get.
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Fed’s salmon plan as good as it will get

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

For a federal judge in Portland, it’s go time.

U.S. District Judge James Redden has presided over nearly a decade of litigation on the federal government’s plan to recover the Columbia River basin’s 13 federally protected runs of salmon and steelhead.

He’s rejected a Democratic administration’s proposal and a Republican administration’s proposal. Now he’s faced with something of a hybrid – and a ticking clock.

Read more »


Bob Evans has died

Just heard from Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell that former Tacoma City Councilman Bob Evans has passed away.

Evans, an architect, served on the council from 1989 to 1997. Most recently he served on the Tacoma Public Library Board of Trustees. Our newsroom is working on a story.


The late, great William Safire

safirePulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist William Safire died Sunday at age 79.

The News Tribune carried his New York Times opinion column for many years (our online archives don’t go back far enough for me to figure out when we started running it, but it was before my time).

As the person who gives the columns a first read before they go in the paper, I occasionally interact with columnists if I have a question or a correction. I recall only one time having to e-mail Safire with a suggested correction. He promptly replied, graciously thanked me and quickly moved a correction to his column over the wire.

Here’s a memorable column of his that we ran in January 2005, shortly before he retired from writing his regular political opinion column.

Character defines people and nations

WASHINGTON – What’s the secret to long-run success?

For a person, it’s useful to have the smarts, look great, be lucky and exude charisma. All that is not enough.

For a political party, it helps to have good organization, articulate candidates and pollsters to discern a popular set of issues. Not enough.

For a nation, success can seem assured by natural resources, free enterprise, a culture of compassion and a free press. It can still go under. Read more »


Hilltop shootout shocked city into action

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

An open-air drug market, frustrated neighbors and a police department that appeared to be beating a retreat: Something was bound to happen in Tacoma’s Hilltop in September 1989.

Happen, it did. As The News Tribune’s Sean Robinson recounted in Sunday’s paper, a firefight between off-duty Army Rangers and gangsters erupted, spraying 300 bullets across the neighborhood but miraculously killing no one.
The shooting was over in 10 minutes; the ramifications played out for years.

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