Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Dec. 2009

Dec.
23rd

Mexico’s narco-war is a threat to the United States

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the traditional Sicilian mafia, families were normally off limits. You could kill the capo; you couldn’t kill his mother or children.

Leave it to Mexico’s drug-traffickers to make the mafia look humane. On Tuesday, one faction took revenge for the death of a cartel leader in a way shocking even by narco-terror standards. Hours after the funeral of a marine who fell in the raid that left Arturo Beltran Leyva dead, some of Leyva’s allies invaded the marine’s home and gunned down his mother, brother, sister and aunt.

The message couldn’t have been more clear: Touch us, and your family may pay the price.

Most Americans pay little attention to Mexico, but this atrocity should a wake-up call. It exemplifies the drug-fueled wave of criminal violence that has been taking on the dimensions of a civil war in that country.

More than 15,000 Mexicans have been killed since President Felipe Calderón launched a military offensive against the drug cartels and crime syndicates three years ago. The body count – criminals, corrupt and honest police, bystanders, mayors, soldiers, federal officials, even priests – can’t be blamed on Calderón. It reflects the embedded power of the syndicates and how hard it has been for Calderón’s government to challenge that power. The alternative is to stand by and watch crime bosses become the de facto rulers of Mexico – a nightmare for Mexicans and Americans alike.
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Dec.
23rd

Auditor has helpful suggestions for lawmakers

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

In slightly more than two weeks, state legislators will gather in Olympia for the 2010 session – and the unpleasant task of dealing with a $2.6 billion budget hole.

Lawmakers will likely consider a combination of yet more cuts to state government and services, and targeted tax and user fee increases. Two givens: Almost nothing they do will be popular with everybody, and everything they do will set off one interest group or another.

So they’d be smart to take advantage of at least a bit of cover offered by state Auditor Brian Sonntag. Last week, he released the “Opportunities for Washington” report, a performance review of state government that outlines several strategies for saving money, streamlining programs and providing better service.
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Dec.
22nd

So funny it hurts

Jason Mercier, one of my colleagues on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, dutifully alerts us to any court rulings involving open meetings and public records laws.

Today Jason slipped this state Court of Appeals decision into our email inboxes, without comment.  I don’t know if he even read it.  But it’s a real gem.  Here’s the gist:

A gentleman named Kevin Michael Mitchell,  currently enjoying the state’s hospitality at one of its fine penal institutions, hit a modest legal jackpot in a public-records lawsuit last year. Mr. Mitchell, an avid jailhouse lawyer, asked the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, a quasi-public agency,  to provide certain public information concerning a study the institute conducted for the state Department of Corrections.

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Dec.
22nd

Once again, officers down

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Angry man, violent history, gun. Once more that combination has produced a shocking attack on South Sound police officers who were just doing their job.

As of this writing, Kent Mundell – one of the two Pierce County deputies shot near Eatonville on Monday night – was in critical condition and clinging to life at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The other, Sgt. Nick Hausner, was seriously wounded but expected to survive. Both are married with children.

The man who reportedly ambushed them, 35-year-old David E. Crable, may have gotten 10 shots off at very close range before being killed himself. Under the circumstances, it seems a miracle that both officers were still breathing – however badly wounded – when rescuers reached the scene. Stopping Crable while under a hail of bullets was a considerable achievement.

There is no good time for police officers to be shot, but the timing of this attack couldn’t have been more traumatic. It’s only been a few weeks since four Lakewood officers were surprised by a gunman and killed at a Parkland café. That wound hasn’t begun to heal. Now the horror of that atrocity has been revived and amplified by yet another vicious, senseless, homicidal attack on officers who were trying to protect the public.

In this case, Mundell and Hausner were shot on a domestic violence call, reportedly in the very act of protecting Crable’s brother and daughter from him. Like the professionals they are, they were working to defuse the situation; shortly before being shot, they had reportedly offered to end the dispute by driving Crable home. For their trouble, they got a pistol emptied at them.
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Dec.
22nd

Burden is on Hilltop nonprofit to refute report

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Twice now, an accountant has found serious problems at the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association. Twice, the association’s board has objected to some of the findings.

The latest review comes as the state Department of Commerce is trying to sort out what happened to millions of state dollars intended to help boost the struggling Hilltop business district.

Commerce hired the same accountant, Mary Jane Dubbs, who completed a similar review for the City of Tacoma earlier this year at the MLK association’s request. She is becoming quite familiar with the agency, and what she’s finding isn’t flattering.

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Dec.
22nd

Goodbye, Ellen Goodman

A representative of the Washington Post Writers Group called Monday with news I haven’t quite digested yet: Ellen Goodman, a fixture of opinion pages throughout the country for decades, is up and retiring next week.

That’s right: next week. It’s one of the most abrupt departures I’ve seen in this business. I asked if she were ill; apparently not.

I’ve often disagreed with Goodman – probably more often than not – but I’ve always appreciated her intellect, biting wit and graceful style. We’re now stuck with the problem of replacing her.

An opinion page ought to be balanced as much as possible, along philosophical lines but also along gender lines. Goodman – a liberal feminist whose views were forged in the 1960s – might or might not agree with this, but women simply pick up on some issues that pass right over men. With Goodman leaving, our roster will offer only one other female: Kathleen Parker, a writer of moderate to somewhat-conservative bent.
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Dec.
22nd

Senate Majority Leader: ‘Enough is enough’

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown has posted what is essentially a response to our editorial “Past time for state to get tough with unions.”

In her post “Enough is enough – state workers aren’t to blame!”, Brown argues (much as the union did last week) that state workers have already given up $800 million in compensation (raises that were negotiated but never given because the recession hit) in addition to other sacrifices. She says that to ask more of them would be unfair.

Like workers in the private sector, state workers are making major financial sacrifices. But

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Dec.
21st

Washington pays twice for parolee trade deficit

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The assassinations of four Lakewood police officers last month has revealed many ugly truths about the criminal justice system.

The latest: Cop killer Maurice Clemmons, who moved here as an Arkansas parolee, is far from the only problem foisted on Washington by other states.

Washington, it would seem, is a popular destination for ex-cons. As The News Tribune’s Sean Robinson reported Monday, the state has responsibility for supervising 2,393 offenders from other states. But only 1,046 of this state’s offenders are doing their probation in other states.

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