Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Jan. 2010

Jan.
28th

Obama ticks off enviros, too

Listening to Wednesday’s State of the Union speech, I wondered how some of President Obama’s references would play with environmentalists – specifically his call for more nuclear power, “clean coal” and offshore oil drilling.

Here’s the reaction from Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica:

Obama Speech a Kick in the Gut to Environmentalists

While we welcome President Obama’s call for comprehensive climate and energy reform – as well as his focus on job-creating high-speed rail and solar power – it was alarming to hear him refer last night to a variety of dirty energy sources, including nuclear, coal, offshore oil drilling and biofuels, as clean.

President Obama’s support for all these dirty energy sources was a big win for corporate polluters and their Washington lobbyists, but it was a kick in the gut to environmentalists across the country. The President was essentially telling these Americans that their voices don’t matter.

It’s a shame that while in so many other areas President Obama is calling for an end to the influence of corporate special interests and lobbyists, when it come Read more »

Jan.
27th

Sharing the podium: Obama and Scott Brown

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Meet the post-Massachusetts Obama.

In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, the president was all bipartisanship, all political unity, all transcendent American values. All because a single Republican candidate in Massachusetts has punched a hole in what had been an airtight, filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate.

The address was front-loaded with Obama’s concern for “men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from” and a call for the Senate to approve a job-creation bill that has cleared the House of Representatives.

Despite the optimistic tone, Obama’s report of retirement funds that have “started” to regain “some of their value,” and of businesses “beginning to invest again” and “starting to hire again” didn’t sound like vote of a confidence in imminent economic recovery.

Persistent financial pain is one of the forces that put Scott Brown over the top last week; Obama well understands that it could cripple his administration come November if his party isn’t at least perceived as easing the anguish.
Read more »

Jan.
27th

Cities must be able to recoup camera costs

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Those “photocop” tickets for running red lights or speeding in school zones are:

1) A useful tool for getting drivers to observe traffic lights and speed limits, or

2) A “Big Brother” cash cow for municipalities.

Your answer may hinge on whether you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a hefty ticket that arrived in the mail after a camera caught your infraction.

In 2001, Lakewood was the first city in the state to install automated traffic cameras, and they’ve spread to many others, including Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Fife, Federal Way, Lacey and Auburn. The cameras are usually installed at intersections that have experienced high numbers of T-bone crashes caused by red-light runners. Such a crash fatally injured a 3-month-old child in Fife Sunday.
Read more »

Jan.
27th

Coming Thursday: State of the Union reaction, Tacoma Narrows tolls advice

For tomorrow, we’re writing editorials reacting to the president’s State of the Union speech and giving our take on Narrows Bridge tolls. We’re waiting on the president to speak before we decide the direction of that first editorial. As for the bridge, we’re arguing that Tacoma Narrows tollpayers are different from the future Highway 520 tollpayers in a couple of important ways and should be treated differently. What the state treasurer defines as a healthy reserve would make a lot of Narrows tollpayers sick.

Jan.
27th

That is SO annoying

Here’s a Web site I like almost as much as icanhascheezburgers.com and peopleofwalmart.com. It’s SoAnnoying.com – a place where you can rant about the things in life that bug you and read about what bugs other people. You can rate their grievances (Deal with it, Bothersome or Drives me nuts, too!) and leave comments.

Here’s the best part: You can send anonymous e-mails to people who annoy you.

My candidates for rants: the grocery checkout person who holds up the express line to yap with a customer she knows . . . the driver who has the right-of-way at an intersection and just sits there – until you decide to move forward . . . the person who plops down next to me in a quiet cafe and talks much louder than necessary on her cell phone, ruining my lunch.

My top candidate is the person who sent in a lengthy, boring letter to the editor this week and challenged: “Do you have the (guts) to print this?” Then he didn’t sign his name. Read more »

Jan.
26th

Don’t raid public records fines

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Lawmakers, under cover of helping the state archives, are seeking to shift the costs of illegal government secrecy to whistleblowers.

Identical bills in the House and Senate propose to redirect fines now paid to private citizens who prove public agencies erred in withholding records. The fines would go instead to the state archives account.

Requesters could plead with the court to reimburse their attorney fees and costs. But judges would not be bound to award those expenses as they are now.

The bills are certainly not the only pieces of legislation aimed at appeasing local governments’ clamor for relief from the burden of doing the public’s business in public.

But what Rep. Dennis Flannigan of Tacoma and Darlene Fairley of Lake Forest Park have dreamed up in House Bill 2910 and Senate Bill 6408 is especially egregious. Their legislation would eliminate much of the incentive agencies have to comply with the state’s open records law.

Read more »

Jan.
26th

Whites-only basketball league?

Here’s a Leonard Pitts Jr. column that might not make it into the print edition (we’re getting slammed with letters to the editor).

Don Lewis thinks white men can’t jump.

What else explains the bizarre statement he issued last week? According to the Chronicle newspaper of Augusta, Ga., Lewis is the commissioner of something called the All-American Basketball Alliance, which hopes to set up shop in 12 cities. “Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league,” his statement said.
Yes, we’re talking about a whites-only basketball league.

But Lewis, you’ll be relieved to hear, is no racist. Shucks no, he says. It’s just that white fans are tired of black players (cover your eyes, Kobe, D-Wade, LeBron) who rely on “street-ball” athleticism to make up for their lack of fundamental skills.

The AABA (Affirmative Action Basketball Association?) has an ice cream cone’s chance in the Georgia sun of ever becoming a reality or, if it does, of surviving its first legal challenge. A reader on the Chronicle Web site wonders if the players would play in white robes with or without hoods. But this story, silly as it is, affords a chance to make a serious observation about excellence and expectation. Read more »

Jan.
26th

Coming Wednesday: Public records fines

Here’s what we’re working on:

We love the state archives as much as anyone, but trying to fund it with public records fines is an insult to the very premise behind preservation of government documents. This legislation would make it far more difficult for citizens to get access to information that public agencies don’t want them to see.