Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Aug. 2010

Aug.
31st

Morton teacher controversy could have been avoided

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

What a mess in Morton, where school’s back in session this week and the community is already in an uproar over a problem teacher.

At the center of the controversy is middle school history teacher Michael Moulton, who has been repeatedly accused – and now convicted – of inappropriately touching students.

Moulton entered an Alford plea (admitting the strength of the prosecution’s case but not his guilt) last fall and served a 16-day jail sentence for fourth-degree assault.

The Morton School District tried to fire him. But its decision was reversed earlier this year by a hearing examiner who ruled that Moulton’s dismissal violated his protections against double jeopardy.

The school district had goofed when it previously suspended Moulton without pay for 12 days. Had the district continued paying Moulton while he was on leave, the suspension wouldn’t have counted as punishment and school officials would have been free to later fire him.

Better yet, the district could have skipped the suspension altogether and let Moulton go in the first place.

Read more »

Aug.
30th

Climate change: At least science admits its errors

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

One of science’s great strengths is its tendency to self-correct. That strength is on display this year as climatologists respond to some tough attacks on the way they’ve presented global warming to the public.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got the world’s attention in 2007 when it concluded that the planet was indeed heating up and human industrial activity was indeed the chief cause. These findings reflected immense research and the combined authority of hundreds of leading scientists.

But winning over scientists can be a lot easier than winning over public opinion. Most citizens aren’t likely to pore through hundreds of studies and evaluate the credentials of their authors. Americans in particular are hard-wired to distrust official dictates and scientific orthodoxies.

So the cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has taken some devastating hits as skeptics have gleefully pounced on errors and overstatements in the 2007 report to the United Nations.

The most embarrassing was an assertion that the Himalayan glaciers could be entirely melted in 2035 – an unsubstantiated factoid that appears to have found its way to the IPCC by way of environmental zealots.
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Aug.
30th

Pierce County tournament scores a hole-in-one

Peter Uihlein tees off the 12th hole in the final round of the U.S. Amateur golf tournament Sunday at Chambers Bay in University Place. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

It’s safe to exhale now, Pierce County. Chambers Bay seems to have passed its first big test with flying colors.

The county-owned golf course in University Place received rave reviews from participants in the U.S. Amateur, which ended Sunday, as well as from U.S. Golf Association officials and visiting media.

“Fun” was a word commonly used by the young players, many of whom had little experience playing on more challenging Scottish links-style courses with their uneven fairways, thick roughs, and lack of trees and water hazards.

“I think this place hit a home run this week,” gushed Golf Channel announcer Steve Burkowski. Read more »

Aug.
29th

A clear success for America’s Iraq veterans

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Mission accomplished. Finally.

There’ll be no “Victory in Iraq” day. The legacy of America’s military intervention in Iraq is far too disputed, complicated and unsettled. Still, this month’s withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces – Stryker units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – deserves more celebration than it’s gotten.

Roughly 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq until the end of next year; they will largely serve the Iraqi army in a support and training role. The sight of American soldiers on patrol in the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere is history.

Iraqis, and the occasional American, are still getting killed in Iraq, but this looks less like war than the hostile peace that prevailed in Korea after the large-scale hostilities there ended in 1953. Despite a recent spate of insurgent attacks, the level of violence is a small fraction of what it was a few years ago.

Here’s hoping that the passage of years brings more parallels to Korea. That very unpopular war ended in a murky stalemate, but ultimately produced a thriving and democratic South Korea. U.S. troops remain in South Korea, more than a half century later, helping keep North Korea at bay.

A bleaker potential parallel is Vietnam, where the United States left a hopelessly corrupt and weak ally that collapsed in the face of a renewed communist offensive.

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Aug.
28th

Washam paints bull’s eye on Pierce County taxpayers

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Dale Washam has a hypocritical allegiance to the law.

The Pierce County assessor-treasurer demands that his enemies – whose ranks seem to grow by the day – be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. But his own transgressions? They should be dismissed as the price of his crusade for justice.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Washam doesn’t just expect a pass; he refuses to acknowledge that he might have done anything wrong.

Read more »

Aug.
27th

The editorial board’s television debut

Every year, we invite proponents and opponents of ballot measures to our office to state their case. This year, TVW got in on the act, asking us if crews could shoot some of our sessions. We jumped at the chance to show you all a little bit of how we do our jobs.

Below, you’ll find the footage from our Tuesday sessions. The first is our interview of Initiative 1053’s backers and foes. Tim Eyman couldn’t make it, but the Association of Washington Business came instead to explain why voters should (again) require a two-thirds vote of the

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Aug.
27th

What’s happening with City of Tacoma pay? We can’t say.

It began Wednesday with a call to Tacoma City Hall to find out what, if any, cost-of-living increases city workers received this year. I was trying to gather local information for an editorial about what’s happening up in King County, where government workers are going without COLAs, as they are called, to minimize layoffs as agencies grapple with budget shortfalls.

The answer to my question was easy to come by: Yes, the city had given at least some employees raises this year and last. But nailing down how much of a raise – and what the cost to the city budget has been – is proving much more difficult to discern.

Read more »