Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: March 2010


FDA should get tough on indoor tanning

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

It’s a shame that state Rep. Jeannie Darneille’s bill to regulate and restrict the indoor tanning industry didn’t get very far in this year’s legislative session.

Her bill would have required that indoor tanning businesses be licensed and inspected as they are in most other states – and as other personal care businesses such as hair salons already are in Washington. Most importantly, it would have banned the use of indoor tanning beds by anyone under 18 without a doctor’s prescription.

That last provision was especially important, because experts say indoor tanning is the main reason doctors are seeing more advanced cases of potentially deadly melanoma in younger and younger victims – and mostly in women because they’re more likely to use tanning beds. Cancers that dermatologists once saw mostly in old men are now showing up in twentysomethings and even teenagers.
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The church’s challenge

I am deeply, deeply troubled by ongoing and increasing reports of child sexual abuse within the Catholic priesthood and its mismanagement by church leadership.  My belief in the goodness of Catholic Christian ideals is shaken by national and international accounts of these incidents

The Vatican must respond swiftly, truthfully, and completely to these allegations if it is to retain any moral authority on important social issues.  Anything less will fail the faithful, and further alienate an already fragile and disillusioned segment of Catholics. It is hypocritical to exhort a congregation — from the pulpit — to oppose national

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Wanted for PDC: A hard charger

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Nearly a year and a half after Dino Rossi lost his second gubernatorial race, the Public Disclosure Commission got around to clearing his name this week.

No one can definitively say how the October 2008 hit on Rossi, which alleged he had illegally solicited and accepted campaign contributions from homebuilders associations, affected his showing in the following month’s vote tally. It likely wasn’t enough to cost Rossi the election, which Gov. Chris Gregoire won by a healthy margin. But it certainly cost him some votes.

“October surprises” are the stuff of politics, for better and worse. Sometimes, the information doesn’t come to light until the heat of the campaign. Other times, a candidate’s foes purposefully wait until the last minute to pounce.

Many fouls are left to voters to call. But in a few cases, such as alleged campaign finance violations, official referees do exist. The problem in Washington is the watchdogs have been arthritic and sleepy.

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A whiff of grapeshot

The current furor over Washington’s “open carry” law – which lets people pack pistols and other firearms in plain sight – got me curious about other lesser known gun policies.

Both Washington and the U.S. government ban machine guns, short-barreled rifles, sawed-off shotguns and other implements of urban warfare. But I ran into a grand exception to many of the possession rules, a class of guns defined in state law as follows:

“Antique firearm” means a firearm or replica of a firearm not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and

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Google vs. China

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The issues behind Google’s decision to stop censoring its own search engine in China are perfectly encapsulated in the Chinese government’s response to it.

Here are some of the instructions – as translated by the Washington Post – the government handed down to Chinese Web forum managers this week in reaction to Google’s move:

• It is not permitted to hold discussions or investigations on the Google topic.

• All Web sites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which attack the party, state, government agencies, Internet policies with the excuse of this event.

• All Web sites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others have a different tune from government policy.

• Chief managers in different regions please assign specific manpower to monitor Google- related information; if there is information about mass incidents, please report it in a timely manner.

For all of China’s economic dynamism and modern trappings, it remains ruled by a dictatorship terrified of independent political thoughts and the means of communicating them. Google co-founder Sergey Brin – who pushed for the company’s new policy – was dead on when he cited the “earmarks of totalitarianism” in a regime that still perpetuates the cult of Mao Zedong.

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How not to manage a problem prisoner

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

State prison officials have handed one of their biggest troublemakers a major legal victory – and possibly a heap of taxpayers’ money as well.

On Thursday, a unanimous state Supreme Court ruled that the state Department of Corrections must pay convicted arsonist Allan Parmelee’s attorney fees.

The case stems from a July 2005 letter Parmelee wrote to then-prison secretary Harold Clarke. Parmelee complained about the treatment of prisoners at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

Parmelee wrote that he had discovered what was causing all the tension at the prison: “Having a man-hater lesbian as a superintendent is like throwing gas on (an) already smoldering fire.”

Offensive? Yes, but no more so than how prison officials responded. They cited Parmelee for violating an arcane 1869 criminal libel law and gave him 10 days in isolation.

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PDC clears Dino Rossi of BIAW scheme – 17 months after the fact

A year and a half is several eternities in politics, but you may remember the accusations that Republican Dino Rossi was illegally colluding with the Building Industry Association of Washington when he ran for governor in 2008.

Afton Swift, who managed the Rossi campaign, has (for obvious reasons) been following the Public Disclosure Commission’s investigation of the charge – which ended this week with Rossi’s exoneration. Below is Swift’s take (a shortened version will run as a letter in tomorrow’s print edition):

Do you remember when Dino Rossi had his deposition taken during the final days of the 2008 election for Governor? This week the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission dismissed Rossi’s part in the complaint that led to that deposition. The claim was that Dino Rossi had improperly coordinated campaign activity with the Building Industry Association of Washington during the 2008 campaign for Governor. After an exhaustive investigation, the PDC staff found “no evidence” to support the allegation.

What was behind all of this? Politics.

In 2004, Dino Rossi surprised the pundits and was declared governor-elect twice. Then, after King County found new ballots and a hand recount, Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes. Polls showed that a majority of voters felt that the election should have gone to Rossi and that Gregoire was an illegitimate governor. The Democrats expected a rematch in 2008. So the Democratic Party operation made a strategic decision to begin attacking Dino Rossi’s character. For four years, the operatives in power used every lever of government and public communications at their disposal to tar Rossi as an unethical, “sleazy” businessman and politician.

You saw it in TV ads and in headlines made by new PDC allegations.

In an unheard-of move, Democratic allies convinced King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas to require Rossi to give a deposition on the case just a few days before the 2008 election. The deposition was a complete farce, but the Democrats accomplished their mission – they sowed enough doubt about Rossi’s integrity in the minds of voters to help Gregoire win reelection.
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UPDATED: Randy Dorn should handle his own damage control

In our editorial today, we called on state schools chief Randy Dorn to come clean about his DUI and to give the City of Orting the all-clear to release the police report. A few minutes ago, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction issued a statement (see below) from Dorn that includes a bit more information about last Saturday night and explains that he’s instructed his attorney to ask Orting to release all documents.

That’s certainly progress. Now Dorn should also stop using his taxpayer-supported media relations staff to field inquiries about his after-hours activities. Dorn himself (or

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