Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Jan. 2010

Jan.
31st

Bellevue’s ‘vision’ puts transit out of focus

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

A fight’s brewing in Bellevue that could have unfortunate consequences for light-rail users in the South Sound and across the Puget Sound region.

The value of the Sound Transit light-rail system depends on its proximity to people and the places they want to go. Opposition to the regional transit agency’s preferred light-rail route in Bellevue risks thwarting the system’s ability to deliver.

Eastside leaders have long been opposed to Sound Transit’s plans to run light rail on surface streets through downtown Bellevue. They say that construction would disrupt businesses and that trains would clog traffic.

The opposition is led by powerful interests that don’t like any light rail. Anti-transit developer Kemper Freeman Jr. owns a good chunk of downtown Bellevue and has led past fights against Sound Transit ballot measures. He’s also given heavily to local politicians. In November, he bought himself a majority on the Bellevue City Council.

Read more »

Jan.
30th

Get tough on child porn customers

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

They are the images that break the hearts of even the toughest cops and prosecutors.

The images show young children, many of them infants and most of them under the age of 5, being sexually exploited in ways the average person couldn’t even begin to fathom. Photos and videos of little children being raped – repeatedly and brutally – circle the world on the Internet, exchanged among the sick society of pedophiles.

Law enforcement can prosecute these monsters, but it needs an upgraded set of tools in an age when the evidence is shared across secretive computer networks.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna has been trying to get those tools for three years now. The Legislature is again considering bills he has requested – House Bill 2424 and Senate Bill 6397 – to make it easier to prosecute those who view online images of child sexual abuse and hand down longer sentences. Read more »

Jan.
29th

Labor has thing or two to say about workers’ comp editorial

The Washington State Labor Council is firing back after our editorial on workers’ compensation today. No surprise there. We backed changes in the insurance program for injured workers, changes that labor adamantly opposes.

I’ll let most of the WSLC’s response speak for itself. But there are two charges that I can’t let go unanswered. The first:

We see corporate lobbying groups and certain politicians criss-crossing the state to tell business owners they are getting a raw deal, that the government doesn’t care about them, and the grass is greener across the state line. (Those politicians are having a

Read more »

Jan.
29th

Coming this weekend: Fighting child porn, making light rail work

Here’s what we’re working on for Sunday and Monday:

It’s not easy to prosecute those who view child pornography, but it could be a little less difficult if the lawmakers passed legislation requested by state Attorney General Rob McKenna. That legislation would give law enforcement an upgraded set of tools to fight despicable crimes whose evidence is shared across secretive computer networks.

A fight’s brewing in Bellevue that will affect how useful Sound Transit’s light rail is to South Sound users. The Bellevue City Council, backed by powerful downtown and anti-light rail interests, wants the line to either skirt downtown

Read more »

Jan.
29th

D.A.R.E. vs. legal dope

As in California, marijuana activists in Washington are trying to legalize the drug. Another argument against it:

By Skip Miller
for the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council’s vote Tuesday to shut hundreds of so-called medical marijuana dispensaries was a welcome move, but the larger battle over pot has just begun.

Across the country, lawmakers and residents of cash-strapped states are edging ever closer to legalizing — and taxing — marijuana. In California, the first state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law, backers of an initiative to legalize the drug expect to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. And a Field Poll last year showed more than half of California voters would support such a move.

Two beliefs drive this push to make pot legal: that new tax revenue will stave off deeper budget cuts and that marijuana is a relatively benign drug. Neither is true.

Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in. Baby boomers who hazily recall their own experimentation with marijuana often are stunned to learn that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive substance — in domestic sinsemilla has quadrupled since the late 1970s.
Read more »

Jan.
28th

Don’t make example of Narrows toll payers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Come July 1, some drivers who cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge will be paying more to make the trip. The question is: How much more and to what aim?

State Treasurer Jim McIntire, being a numbers guy, would prefer to err on the conservative side.

He’s hoping to improve his chances of driving a bargain when he sells bonds for Seattle’s new Highway 520 bridge in a couple of years. He wants to impress investors with displays of the state flexing its tolling authority in the name of fiscal prudence.

McIntire’s suggestion has prompted a debate over the appropriate size of the bridge account’s reserves. Building a fat savings account is usually a good idea  – unless you’re padding it with money extracted from people who are struggling to pay their bills, much less save.

Read more »

Jan.
28th

Workers’ comp reform: If not now, when?

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
Lawmakers who refuse to fix the state’s program for injured workers wouldn’t know a mandate if it hit them upside the head.
Three months ago, Boeing announced it was taking its second 787 line elsewhere, in part over concerns that Washington’s workers’ compensation system was too expensive.

The Department of Labor & Industries, as if to underscore Boeing’s point, shortly announced that premiums would be jumping an average of 7.6 percent.

The department’s message to squawking businesses: Be thankful we’re not charging you more. The rate hike was only one-third what the department’s own financial experts had advised charging.

If the specter of 20 percent rate increases isn’t enough to scare the Democratic majority into action, then the wake-up call delivered by a state audit last month should be. The audit found that L&I’s experts were overly optimistic about the fiscal soundness of workers’ compensation accounts. In one fund, L&I had underestimated the shortfall by nearly 45 percent.

The state workers’ compensation system is simply unsustainable as is. All signs point to the need for reform – all signs, that is, except the signal coming from labor. It’s threatening to run candidates against those Dems who don’t toe the line. Read more »

Jan.
28th

Breaking the ‘duh’ meter

From MoveOn: A representative ;) public response to Obama’s energy options:

Last night over 10,000 MoveOn members participated in the group’s first real-time dial test of the President’s State of the Union Speech. By a considerable margin, the portion of the speech that got the worst response was … the reference to more nuclear power and oil drilling.

Check out the chart hyperlinked above. The left end of Democratic Party doesn’t like the proposed spending freeze or the Afghan surge, either.