Inside Opinion

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

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Archives: Dec. 2010


Christmas and the beautiful mystery of generosity

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Gifts define Christmas. It’s a good occasion to celebrate the virtue of giving.

St. Paul quoted Jesus as teaching, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus – viewed by Christians as God’s supreme gift to humanity – relentlessly emphasized acts of selfless generosity.

The desire to give arises from some deep well in human nature. Tips for waiters, of all things, point to a human impulse to share. Psychologists and economists have long puzzled over the fact that travelers leave tips at restaurants they’ll never return to.

In the book, “Why smart people make big money mistakes,” financial analyst Gary Belsky and psychologist Thomas Gilovich try to make sense of the practice:

“If you think about it, tipping is about as irrational as can be: folks routinely giving away money without a clear obligation to do so, to people they’ll likely never see again, in places they’ll never revisit, for a level of service that may not have even pleased them …

“It’s not enough to say that the self-interest in tipping is the guarantee of good service. Since tipping comes after the meal, that would only explain why people might tip in neighborhood restaurants or other eateries to which they are certain they will return. It does not explain why travelers tip the waiter at a Denny’s in, say, Little Rock, when they know it is unlikely they will ever eat there again.”
Read more »


Justice needs tailoring for Allen, Lain and Massey

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The old saw, “Do the crime, do the time,” suggests that sentencing is simple. In the case of three men now in the criminal justice system – Darcus Allen, Jerry Dean Lain and Barry Massey – it’s anything but.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist opted last week not to seek the death penalty for Allen, who’s accused of serving as the getaway driver a year ago after Maurice Clemmons gunned down four Lakewood police officers at the Parkland coffee shop.

Instead, Lindquist decided to settle for life without parole, the only other

Read more »


No foot-dragging, please, in Washam recall case

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The effort to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam is alive and well. But it almost surely will need swift action by the state Supreme Court if it is to proceed at a pace that would protect county taxpayers from more financial exposure than they’ve already incurred during Washam’s disastrous two years in office.

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam

Washam – whose behavior has triggered two damages claims by his employees, with several more expected – will almost certainly appeal last week’s ruling by Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle that the recall petition against him was “factually and legally sufficient.”

If (more likely when) that happens, the state Supreme Court will have to decide if the recall can proceed. We hope that it acts more quickly than it did in the 1999 recall case Washam brought against then-auditor Cathy Pearsall-Stipek.

After a judge said Washam’s case against the auditor didn’t merit going forward, he appealed to the state Supreme Court. It ruled in his favor — nine months later, in September 2000. That and other legal delays left Washam with limited time to collect the necessary signatures, and he dropped the recall effort.

The News Tribune editorial board criticized the court in 2000 for taking so long to make a decision and supported Washam’s effort to get a speedier resolution. At the time, Washam argued that the court is supposed to consider a recall election case “an emergency matter of public concern” and render an opinion with 30 days of the Superior Court’s decision. Read more »


Before you forward that e-mail about Obama, Palin, Pelosi, Bush . . .

The always enlightening has a year-end wrap-up of the political attack chain e-mails it has investigated in 2010. Many are old e-mails that just keep getting sent around despite having been debunked time and time again. Yes, Dad, I’m talking about you.

Although some of these “viral” e-mails slam conservatives – most notably Sarah Palin and George W. Bush – reports that most attack Democrats and liberals. President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are the favorite targets of false claims.

FactCheck reports:

• It’s not true that the White House is planning to tax all

Read more »


Hey, Tacoma paymasters ­– boom times are over

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Great Recession began in December 2007, three years ago. The City of Tacoma still hasn’t gotten the news.

You would think, given the sometimes-staggering pay increases the City Council continues to hand out, that inflation were rampant or that boom-time revenue were rolling in like a breaker at Waikiki Beach.

The numbers really are amazing. In 2008, the first year of the recession, the city’s gross taxable payroll stood at $246.1 million. As of mid-December of this year, the payroll had swelled to $270.2 million.

Since the beginning of last year, the City of Tacoma has spent $19.5 million implementing a new pay scale designed to pay its employees more generously than 70 percent of their peers elsewhere. Of that $19 million, $12.5 million went to additional salary increases.

The News Tribune’s Lewis Kamb, who documented the rapid expansion of the city payroll in Sunday’s newspaper, summed up that $12.5 million in terms of money not spent on city services:

“Viewed another way, the amount spent on raises so far could pay a year’s salary for at least 170 entry-level patrol officers. Or, cover more than half of the coming budget for the city’s struggling public library system now facing branch closures. Or, patch 625,000 average-sized potholes.”
Read more »


A warm and comfy pay freeze for federal workers

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s a curious two-year pay freeze President Obama has proposed for federal employees.

The idea is good. Suspending the across-the-board pay raises normally dispensed to federal workers shouldn’t be a matter of debate. Anyone who has a secure job with excellent wages and benefits is faring very well in this severe recession, even without a raise – especially when inflation is virtually nonexistent in much of the country.

Look more closely at Obama’s “freeze,” though, and it turns out that most federal employees will in fact still be getting raises. That’s

Read more »


In store for state: Pain, pain and more pain

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Gov. Chris Gregoire had to perform an agonizing arithmetic to come up with a budget for the next biennium.

After the recession and the voters knocked a $4.6 billion breach between revenues and existing services, there was no way to balance the budget without hurting hundreds of thousands of people.

Cut health insurance for the poor, and people will die. Cut crucial education programs, and some children will forfeit their futures. Cut prison funding too far, and predators will go free. Cut food programs, and kids will go to bed hungry.


Read more »