Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: April 2010

April
28th

Cities have valid concerns about rail bypass

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It’s understandable that state officials are hot to get their hands on a share of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money available for rail projects.

The quest for federal dollars is why a plan to separate freight and passenger trains through the South Sound – one that originally wasn’t going to be funded until about 2019 – is being fast-tracked, so to speak.

That’s a serious concern for the cities that will bear the brunt of the impacts when 14 Amtrak trains a day start traveling at 79 mph through several busy intersections.

The plan is for those trains, which now take the Point Defiance route, to be rerouted through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, chopping all of six minutes off the Seattle-to-Portland trip and leaving the scenic route to freight trains. The state, which will get nearly $600 million for its Seattle-to-Vancouver corridor, could begin construction on the bypass this fall.

Lakewood stands to get the worst of the impacts, with seven different intersections affected – most of them paralleling the busy South Tacoma Way/Pacific Highway South corridor. That city’s officials have been vocal in trying to get the state to at least modify the rail plan to increase safety measures with overpasses, and now DuPont has joined the fight. It only has one crossing, near Fort Lewis, but it’s already a busy one even without the holdups involved with 14 trains barreling through. Read more »

April
28th

New way to submit and view letters to the editor

On Thursday, change is coming to the letters to the editor – both in the way letters are submitted to The News Tribune and how they are published.

The e-mail address that many writers have used for submitting letters – letters@thenewstribune.com – is being discontinued. Instead, writers will submit their letters via an easy-to-use online form on The News Tribune’s website. The URL is blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/submit.

The form allows writers to suggest their own headline and includes a word counter so they know when they reach the 250-word limit.

Letters will be published in two ways: Some of the letters we

Read more »

April
27th

Washam’s vendetta leaves county exposed

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Dale Washam sees vindication where he ought to feel rebuke.

The Pierce County assessor-treasurer claims that a new report detailing why a predecessor failed to visually inspect properties as required validates his call for a criminal investigation.

What Washam seems to miss, in calling attention to the evidence against former assessor-treasurer Ken Madsen, is the finger pointed directly at himself.

Read more »

April
27th

The large – and growing gap – between private and public sector benefits

Our editorial yesterday on the Pierce County payroll made reference to the recession’s effect on the standing of private sector workers relative to their public sector counterparts.

The gap shows up most prominently in the area of worker benefits. Michael Mandel, a former BusinessWeek chief economist, took a look recently at some Bureau of Labor Statistics data. His findings not only dispute the age-old idea that state and local government employees are paid less than private sector workers, they also reveal a growing gulf in health care and retirement benefits.

Somewhere in 2004, the world changed, and

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April
26th

Good news on health of bay, waterways

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The latest reports on the health of Commencement Bay and Tacoma waterways offer at least two valuable lessons when it comes to the environment:

• It is possible to make significant progress even on sites so terribly polluted that they get on the federal Superfund list.

• And ongoing, aggressive prevention efforts are needed to keep a site from becoming polluted all over again.

The reports from the state Department of Ecology and the City of Tacoma are mostly positive, painting a picture of continuing improvements on most fronts while reminding us that turnaround efforts still have a long way to go.
Read more »

April
26th

Open government under attack in R-71 case

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Voters long ago settled the debate over Referendum 71, the law. Now the nation’s highest court will decide Referendum 71, the test case.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the question of whether disclosing the names of people who signed petitions to qualify R-71 for the ballot is a violation of their political speech rights.

On one side is Washington’s Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is arguing for disclosure and for whom the case could make or break his expected bid for governor.

On the other side is a formidable foe, James Bopp Jr., an Indiana lawyer on a mission to dismantle the country’s campaign-finance laws who can spot an opportunity to further his cause half a country away.

May McKenna and Washington prevail. The case – the first time the Supreme Court has weighed a state’s public disclosure laws – is a frontal assault on open government in Washington and many other states.

Read more »

April
26th

Sam Reed to California: Top Two’s great

California voters will decide in June whether to adopt an open primary election similar to the one Washington has used since 2008. Secretary of State Sam Reed took some time before preparing to jet to Washington, D.C., this week for the Supreme Court’s hearing on Referendum 71 petitions to pen this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed encouraging California to give Top Two a go:

A nonpartisan winnowing primary gives maximum independence of thought and choice, and lets all voters know that their voice is important. This method really fits our political heritage in the West and honors our proud tradition

Read more »