Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Oct. 2010


Juan Williams, NPR and the perils of plain talk

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

America generally deals with touchy questions involving minorities in one of two ways: politely tip-toeing around them or ranting mindlessly.

A third option – tackling the questions head on, but thoughtfully – can be dangerous, as Juan Williams found out last week.

NPR’s executives have been coming up with expanding rationales for summarily firing the distinguished longtime analyst last week. He’s been off the tracks for a long time, they’ve said, crossing the line from analysis to commentator and riling up listeners over his appearances on Fox News.

Last Wednesday, though, the story was clean and simple: Williams had spoken the unspeakable. The firing offense was saying, “When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
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Giving piracy a bad name

Thus it is seems ridiculous that affected countries, corporations and law enforcement agencies can’t seem to solve the riddle posed by a dozen or so guys waving rifles from the deck of a fishing vessel which is the rough equivalent of a ’79 Chevy Vega.


Remembering, but moving beyond, the ‘Tacoma Method’

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

In a park along Commencement Bay, a red pagoda rises – a gift from Tacoma’s sister city of Fuzhou, China.

It would be a gracious gift under any circumstances. But this is being given to a city that 125 years ago next week became infamous for the “Tacoma Method.”

Anti-Chinese sentiment had flared in many places in the West during the economic downturn of the 1880s, reflecting not only racism but anger that the immigrants were willing to work for lower wages. That sentiment turned particularly ugly in Tacoma on Nov. 3, 1885.

Some of Tacoma’s most prominent citizens – including the mayor, members of the City Council and school board, the fire chief, a judge and business leaders – led a mob that forced Chinese men, women and children out of their homes. They were made to walk in the mud, the cold and the rain to a rail depot nine miles south of the city and board trains. Then their homes and businesses were burned.

In coming days, Tacomans will revisit that most shameful chapter in their city’s history as part of its ongoing Chinese Reconciliation Project. On Saturday morning, they will walk from the Federal Courthouse to the Tacoma Garden and Reconciliation Park on the Old Town waterfront – an area near where many of the Chinese lived and worked in the 1880s. Read more »


Recall drives Washam’s crusade over the edge of sanity

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Alberto Ugas insists the recall was all his idea.

His boss, Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, did not put him up to taking on Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Nope, Ugas is acting purely as a private citizen in calling for Lindquist’s ouster from office.

A private citizen, that is, with enough passion for proper property assessment procedures to compile a 624-page petition accusing a public official of lacking the same fervor.

Uh-huh. Ugas and Washam must take Pierce County voters for fools if they believe they can pass off a recall as anything but the latest attempt to advance Washam’s age-old grudge against his predecessor.

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In memoriam

I know I have “gone dark” (to borrow a military phrase) with blog postings for the past few months.

We were away in the late summer, sailing for a time. Then, recently, a family sorrow took me back East. I’ll write about the fun stuff another time. This posting is for the tough stuff.

I was with my younger sister for some weeks, helping her help her husband, Roger, to die. This is a man who was 53 years old, with sons 16 and 13. What started as an extended weekend turned into an unexpected, special journey to usher a sibling, her loved one and his loved ones through death. It was an extraordinary privilege, and the most difficult thing I have done in my life.

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Not the assessor-treasurer office’s finest half hour

If Alberto Ugas isn’t regretting his decision to go up against Mark Lindquist on KOMO radio this morning, he should be.

Ugas – the Pierce County deputy assessor-treasurer who just filed a recall against Lindquist, the county’s prosecuting attorney, for allegedly obstructing justice – was a guest on John Carlson’s show this morning.

Ugas and his boss, Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, come off as batty in print. But on the radio, when followed by a guy who makes a living winning over juries? Not Ugas’ smartest move.

Carlson quizzed Ugas, asking why it’s Lindquist in his sights when 1) Lindquist’s predecessor, Gerry Horne, also declined to pursue criminal charges for what Ugas and Washam claim was criminal conduct by the former assessor-treasurer, Ken Madsen, and 2) the prosecutor’s office doesn’t launch criminal investigations, it reviews them.

Carlson also asked Ugas whether he was pursuing the recall in his official county capacity or as a private citizen. Ugas said he was doing it as a private citizen, because “we” understand the need to not mix public duties with private initiatives. Ugas offered that he was taking a vacation day to call into the show.

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One more reason to keep viaduct risk in Seattle

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

That generous slush fund built into the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project that all but guarantees that it won’t run over budget? It just shrank by quite a bit.

State officials announced this week that they are shifting more than half of the money set aside for risk and inflation to help sweeten one of the project’s contracts.

Potential bidders have been wary of taking on the most troublesome portion of the project: The 1.7-mile, 55-foot-diameter deep-bore tunnel that will link Sodo to South Lake Union.

The number of construction teams in the hunt has dropped from four to two this year. Contractors are nervous about what they might find in the watery and abrasive soils beneath Seattle’s downtown, which one expert described earlier this year as worse than those encountered in Boston’s problem-plagued Big Dig.

To keep the remaining two teams interested, the state Department of Transportation is now offering $230 million in concessions. A big chunk of the money – $100 million – will go toward additional bonds and insurance to address the risky nature of boring project.

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Things that go bump in the night

With Halloween losing its steam, maybe it’s time to take fear mongering to a new level. Maybe it’s time to take it to the children.

When tucking the kids in tonight, instead of reading them bedtime stories about cows that jump over the moon, tell them about things that go bump in the night.

Tell them the horror stories FOX and its Bad News Bearers have been telling the rest of us since President Obama took office. Then, tell them the truth. They’re going to need the truth.

But first, have the little ones check under their beds. When Glenn Beck announces that the president and his progressives “are taking you to a place to be slaughtered,” and even gives a target date — “probably sometime after Christmas”– a quick glance under the bed couldn’t hurt.

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