Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: April 2010

April
30th

Talking repentance and Hiroshima on Japanese TV

“The “Journey of Repentance” – a Tacoma peace group’s apology tour of Hiroshima and Nagasaki last summer – seems all but forgotten here, but it’s apparently still echoing in Japan.

A crew from one of Japan’s leading media companies, the Tokyo Broadcasting System was in Tacoma this week putting together a documentary on the Journey, including interviews with its organizers and a profile of this area.

Oddly – to me – some Japanese journalists have linked me with the Journey of Repentance, which was warmly received in Japan.

After The News Tribune first reported the plans for the Journey, we were deluged with letters to the editor. Some of our readers defended the trip, but most were incensed by it.

We printed many of the letters (here’s a sampling), and I wrote an editorial in which I tried to place the atomic bombings in the context of the massive attacks on civilian populations that happened throughout the war. (A single non-atomic bombing of Tokyo killed 100,000 people, but few living non-veterans have heard of it, as far as I can tell.)
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April
30th

Another perspective on public employee compensation

State Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, emailed me after reading my post about the gap between public and private sector employee benefits. She called attention to a recent study by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Its findings are quite a bit different than those of the former BusinessWeek economist I cited earlier. For starters, this study disputes the claim that government employees and private sector workers earn about the same. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data and adjusting for differences in earning power, the researchers

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April
30th

On the ground in Arizona

I have some friends – former Tacomans – who now live most of the year in Southern Arizona between Tucson and the Mexican border. When it starts getting hot down there, they head back here to their Stadium District condo. (Yes, there are people who live like that.)

I asked for their reaction to the state’s tough new law on illegal immigration. Here’s what my friend Pat had to say:

My informal, unscientific survey of neighbors says that the vast majority of Arizonans favor the law as signed by Jan Brewer since the federal government has failed to come up

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April
29th

R-71 case reaches far beyond Washington’s borders

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Most people discussing the Referendum 71 lawsuit obsess over whether Washington State can or should release the identities of citizens who signed the petitions to repeal last year’s “everything but marriage” gay rights law.

But as Wednesday’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court made clear, the campaign to put R-71 on the ballot is only a tiny part of what’s at stake here.

The arguments pitted public disclosure opponent James Bopp Jr. against state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who was defending Washington’s Public Records Act. If Bopp ultimately prevails, the rollback of disclosure would only begin with R-71.

He and the groups he represents claim that the release of signatures is inherently a violation of the signers’ First Amendment right to anonymous political speech. So if five of the nine justices buy into the full reach of his arguments, government agencies will be constitutionally forbidden from telling the public who signed initiatives and referendums. Disclosure would be barred for any initiative or referendum, on any issue, in any state, city or other jurisdiction.

Most of the furor over this case has focused on the petitioners’ fears of personal harassment from gay-rights advocates, several of whom idiotically triggered the whole legal battle by threatening signers with “uncomfortable conversations” and the campaign sponsors with outright harm.

But McKenna, defending the Public Records Act, put his finger on the core issue: the public scrutiny necessary to ensure government integrity.
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April
29th

Schools can’t afford to alienate volunteers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Well over 100 volunteers converged on Fawcett Elementary last weekend in a tremendous show of community support for the East Tacoma school.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the experience soured a few of them on working with the Tacoma School District. The district can ill afford to do that to people willing to give of their time and sweat.

The work party consisted of several dozen parents of Fawcett students backed by more than 100 volunteers participating in the annual Comcast Cares Day.

Comcast officials worked with the school to schedule the clean-up day. They received an approved work list on March 15 and assumed everything was a go.

It wasn’t until last week – a few days before the event and more than a month after they had received the school’s approval – that Comcast learned that district and union officials were balking at the scope of the volunteer work plan.

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April
29th

New letters blog launched

We went live with our long-planned letters blog today, and so far so good. Writers are finding the online form, and we’re not seeing any major problems as we transition from a hybrid e-mail/website submission format to completely online.

Thanks to web developer Ian Swenson for all his work putting this together, and to news assistant Terri Bell for her infinite patience and adaptability. I’m sure we’ll be tweaking this a bit in days to come.

The letters do look a little different on the blog than they did on the previous letters page. You might notice

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April
29th

Assessor-treasurer’s office making progress on inspections

Employee relations aside, how is the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s office doing on completing the physical inspections of properties that went undone under the previous administration?

Pretty well, according to Rangel S. Cavazos at the state Department of Revenue, who responded to the department’s latest progress report earlier this week:

I am pleased to inform you that we see adequate progress by your office in completing the revaluation requirements that are outlined in your current revaluation plan for Pierce County.

Revenue notes that the county had physically inspected 23 percent of the required inspections at

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April
28th

Congress can’t leave border law to Arizona

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Arizona’s new attempt to crack down on illegal immigration is nasty, brutish and probably unconstitutional. It’s also understandable.

The state’s week-old law makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally and directs police to question suspected aliens about their immigration status. It’s hard to see how this law could possibly be enforced without harassing American citizens with brown skin and Spanish surnames – some of whose families were living in Arizona long before statehood.

From this northern latitude, the policy looks incomprehensibly extreme and harsh. It’s more comprehensible when seen as an angry reaction to Congress’ shameful refusal to do something serious about illegal immigration.

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