Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: June 2010


Here’s something to like about Elena Kagan

A lot of pundits are saying that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is something of a cipher, that there’s not much on the record about her to give an idea of how she’d vote if she wins Senate confirmation and what her priorities would be on the bench.

That may be so, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, I think the record speaks volumes about what isn’t a priority for her: fashion.

While looking in our photo archives to find a shot to run with Tuesday’s George Will column, I noticed that Kagan

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Sound Transit, rescue mission must both prevail

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Tacoma needs two outcomes from the dispute between Sound Transit and Tacoma Rescue Mission.

One: Sound Transit must get on with building its 8.2-mile Tacoma Dome-to-Lakewood commuter rail extension.

Two: The rescue mission must ensure that 140 homeless men can continue to sleep at the South Tacoma Way shelter that sits 55 feet from Sound Transit’s tracks.

Both can happen – and should – if Sound Transit is to fulfill its obligations to this community.

The three-county transit authority took the rescue mission to court this month to force the condemnation of land it needs to get Sounder trains to Lakewood.

The agency is rightly anxious to secure the land it needs to get Sounder trains to Lakewood. The agency initially promised to extend Sounder service to that city by 2001; Lakewood residents have been paying taxes for nearly 14 years on the promise of commuter rail service.

But the Tacoma Rescue Mission’s plight is similarly sympathetic.

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Governor talks the talk with state government reset

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is sounding the right notes in her hard-nosed plan to resize state government to fit post-recession reality.

The test is whether she can carry the tune against the cacophony it’s bound to stir.

Gregoire has an advantage: State lawmakers are flat out of options. The state budget was already on an unsustainable path before the economy took a header and expedited the inevitable reckoning.

Now the budget patches that have kept Washington state in the black are beginning to fray. Congress is growing weary of propping up the states, lawmakers are running out of state accounts to raid and a potential tax revolt is brewing.

The next Legislature faces another $3 billion gap to fill – and no easy outs.

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Gregoire stops by, bemoans failure of federal jobs bill

Gov. Chris Gregoire stopped by yesterday to tout her new plan to reset state government (look for our take on the effort in Sunday’s paper; we’ll post the editorial here Saturday evening.)

While she was here, we talked about the failure of the Democrats’ jobs bill in Congress. Gregoire, as well as many other governors, has been counting on the bill to deliver billions in state aid. Washington penciled in $480 million in additional Medicaid money to help balance the state budget that begins July 1.

The package that Republicans defeated yesterday had a fraction of that, but

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A partial victory for disclosure in the R-71 case

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

One legal skirmish has yet to be fought, but Washington won the major battle over its Public Records Act on Thursday.

With a crushing 8-1 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is no sweeping constitutional right to sign petitions in anonymity. The decision doesn’t force the release of the signatures that put Referendum 71 one the ballot last November – that’s the unfought skirmish – but it repudiates a claim that could have sealed all petitions on all issues, in Washington and everywhere else citizens enjoy the right to initiative and referendum.

This lawsuit was brought by opponents of last year’s “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law, who launched a petition drive to reverse the measure at the polls. They have asked the courts to prevent the Secretary of State’s Office from releasing the identities of Washingtonians who signed the petition, arguing that disclosure would put the signers at risk of harassment from gay-rights advocates.

It didn’t help that a few gay-rights advocates actually did threaten identified signers with “uncomfortable conversations,” nor that others reportedly threatened the initiative’s sponsors with physical harm.

But the stakes in the lawsuit were far bigger than R-71. It challenged the constitutionality of any disclosure on the grounds that petition signers had a First Amendment right to anonymous political expression.
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Americans catching on to World Cup fever

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange react to the U.S. goal against Algeria as they watch World Cup soccer play Wednesday.

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Americans are huge football fans. Now, thanks to World Cup fever, many of them are huge fans of football – in the way the rest of the world uses the word.

From bars in the Deep South to offices in the South Sound, from the West Wing to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Americans are catching on to the excitement surrounding the World Cup being played in South Africa. Even games that end in 1-1 ties.

It helps that the American team is doing so well, winning their World Cup group for the first time since the tournament began in 1930. On Saturday the Americans play Ghana, the team that knocked them out four years ago, in hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals. Read more »


How the justices broke on the R-71 decision

People who take a “Rah, rah, our team won!” approach to Supreme Court decisions may overlook some important things about Thursday’s ruling about public disclosure and Referendum 71.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, who defended Washington’s Public Records Act, won a battle he shouldn’t have had to fight.

The people who collected signatures to put R-71 on the November ballot had asked U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle to prevent the state’s release of their petitions. Settle granted the injunction on astonishingly broad grounds, holding that they were likely to succeed in arguing that the First Amendment could require that any petition – not just theirs – be sealed upon request.

That conclusion seemed absurd, but the high court took the claim seriously enough to review it. McKenna wound up having to play defense in a game with very high stakes.

Thursday’s ruling was a matter of dodging an asteroid few people had seen coming. As far as R-71 – by itself – is concerned, the fight remains to be fought in a trial court. It will turn on whether the petitioners can produce believable evidence that they were genuinely threatened by gay-rights supporters.
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