Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: March 2011


Let lawmakers – not judges – write the budget

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Lawmakers will have a hard enough time carving $5 billion out of state spending this year without the courts second-guessing what they can cut and what they can’t.

One federal judge, Marsha Pechman, has countermanded the Legislature’s decision to stop funding the Food Assistance Program for Legal Immigrants. Lawmakers had expected to save $60 million over the next biennium by ending the program, which helps pay the grocery bills of some needy immigrants who aren’t eligible for food stamps.

Responding to a class action lawsuit on behalf of those immigrants, Pechman decided that the Legislature was probably violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The theory: Because the state helps fund aid for immigrants who are eligible for the federal program, it must do the same for immigrants who aren’t. State attorneys have appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is a No Good Deed Goes Unpunished ruling. Expanding the assistance to non-eligible immigrants was purely discretionary on the part of the state, and no federal money was involved. It now turns out – if Pechman’s logic is upheld – that lawmakers can choose to extend help but can’t choose to withdraw it when they run out of revenues. Read more »


Don’t let tunnel critics drive up costs with delays

The Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle's waterfront could collapse in a big quake. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

If dithering were an art form, Seattle would be Salvador Dali.

That city’s infighting over replacement of the 58-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct – a state highway – has taken on a surreal quality with attempts to kill the $2 billion deep bore tunnel proposal via an August ballot measure.

Tunnel critics are hoping to overturn the City Council’s 2009 decision to move forward with the project. But it’s unclear whether that vote would even be legal. The state has already signed contracts with a consortium to build the tunnel, which has the support of city business and labor leaders, a City Council majority, King County government, the Port of Seattle and state lawmakers. Current plans are to start excavating the tunnel’s entrance in late summer.

And if not a tunnel, what? Many tunnel critics prefer a new or repaired viaduct. Others – primarily transit advocates, environmentalists and Mayor Mike McGinn – want to tear down the viaduct and fund new and improved surface streets. Read more »


The trick: Keep the allies and lose Gadhafi

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Today – as Barack Obama announced Monday – the United States hands off the war in Libya to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It will be hard to tell the difference.

NATO isn’t exactly a third party. The U.S. military is the muscle of the alliance, and NATO can’t reduce Moammar Gadhafi’s armed forces from the air without American support.

The Air Force and Navy provide essential surveillance, targeting, transport, drone, electronic warfare and aerial refueling capacity. American pilots will remain in the battle in a very big way. The Air Force has recently deployed C-130 gunships and A-1 “Warthog” attack aircraft in Libya – slow-moving, low-flying warplanes that have devastating firepower and can target Libyan forces dug into cities.

Meet the new intervention, same as the old intervention. But as Obama argued persuasively Monday, labels like “NATO” and “U.N. Security Council” and “Arab League” mean a lot in an operation like this. Read more »


Pinch-hitter responds

Regarding Ms. Alice C. Hori’s letter to the editor (“Marriage: Union’s goal should be procreation”) in response to Leonard Pitts Jr.s’ column (3-23), I vehemently challenge her assertions, namely:
1. “Same-sex romantic partnerships (or same-sex platonic friendships) are by their natures unrelated to the production and raising of children, and are thereby not the kind of friendships suitable for marriage.”
2. “Sexual love between a man and a woman is fundamentally ordered to the procreation of children.”
3. “Children do best…if they are raised and nurtured by their own parents in a single household.”
4. “Marriage

Read more »


Kalakala: The memory, the vision, the listing hulk

The 276-foot Kalakala lists in its mooring on the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Think of the Kalakala as a dream, not a ship.

She’s not that rusted-out corpse of a ferry now slowly sinking in the Hylebos Waterway, threatening to stir up the toxins in a Commencement Bay Superfund site. Busted by Bay Watch, the environmental group that caught her listing, that remnant of a great vessel must be put out of its misery in short order.

The real Kalakala is a memory of magical voyages across the Sound in a silver, streamlined ferry nearly the length of a football field; a memory of live orchestras and dancing, of plush chairs and a Horseshoe Cafe, of affordable luxury for wartime laborers crossing the waters to the shipyards of Bremerton. She is an icon of Seattle, a symbol of the 1962 World’s Fair.

The real Kalakala is not that rust bucket in the Hylebos; she is a story of dreamers.

After her career as a ferry ended, she was consigned to ignominy as a crab-processing plant on Kodiak Island, then abandoned there to rot on a mudflat. Seattle sculptor Peter Bevis, dreamer par excellence, spent 10 years and a fortune refloating her decayed remains, towing them to Seattle and trying to resurrect the Art Deco magic. Read more »


Newland’s sound track record bodes well for Cascadia

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

For 20 years, the Cascadia planned community has been a dream on the horizon, high on a plateau between Orting and Bonney Lake in East Pierce County.

Thousands of people would live there, and because it would be largely self-contained – with a variety of residences, workplaces, schools and shopping – it wouldn’t add significantly to local traffic congestion.

It was the community of the future – planned, not hodgepodge like most of the development in Pierce County.

But the dream came crashing to earth in the recession – along with the housing industry, banks’ ability to lend money and and people’s ability to borrow it. Cascadia was caught in the crunch; HomeStreet Bank foreclosed on developer Patrick Kuo in 2009 after he defaulted on $75 million in loans.

Now there’s hope that the state’s largest planned community will start moving forward again. The new owner, Newland Real Estate Group of San Diego, is a highly reputable developer with a 43-year track record of building planned communities all across the United States.
Read more »


Exemplary Army justice for Afghan war crimes

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The prosecution of war crimes at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Afghanistan promises to become one of the Army’s most honorable episodes – if it focuses as much attention on commanders as it has on enlisted soldiers.

The trials and hearings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have revealed an attitude of intolerance of atrocities and criminal behavior that might have been dismissed as the cost of doing business in previous wars. Last week’s sentencing of one defendant, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, shows how tough the Army has gotten.

Morlock pleaded guilty to three counts

Read more »


Seattle P.D. in the media crosshairs again

The Seattle Police Department must have the collective sensation of being a large blue media target.

One would think that the last few months of scathing news coverage would make everyone wearing the SPD badge take a deep breath and hide under water until all the reporters go home: the downtown shooting of a knife-wielding individual and videos of heavy-handed arrests and ill-advised comments. In truth, many of Seattle’s Finest are weary of the constant public lashing the 1,200 person department is taking based on the actions of a handful of individuals.

However, as many public and private entities can attest, when

Read more »