Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: April 2011


A century later, Union Station symbolizes city’s renewal

Union Station, now a federal courthouse, opened on May 1, 1911. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

For years, the deteriorating Union Station was the all-too-visible symbol of downtown Tacoma’s decline.

Today, a century after it first opened at the height of the rail era, Union Station symbolizes something else entirely: downtown’s renaissance.

The iconic building’s metamorphosis from an abandoned rail station into a bustling federal courthouse in 1992 triggered a cascade of development nearby, including the Washington State History Museum, The University of Washington Tacoma, the Museum of Glass and the new Tacoma Art Museum.

Anyone who was here in the 1980s can testify to the depressing atmosphere of downtown Tacoma back then, especially the warehouse district on Pacific Avenue. Old buildings were being torn down in hopes of urban renewal, and the shuttered Union Station was on the hit list. Historic preservation wasn’t on many people’s radar screens back then, but the Save Our Station citizens group was trying to change that. Read more »


A new voice in Tacoma’s teacher contract talks

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Teacher contract talks are an odd beast.

The teachers union names its price and the district weighs what it can afford, but missing from the room are the students and taxpayers who must live with the results. It’s akin to a seller and a banker negotiating a house sale without the buyer.

A new alliance of community groups aims to change that dynamic in the upcoming talks between the Tacoma School District and its teachers union.

If families and community leaders can’t be at the bargaining table, they at least want their words ringing in the negotiators’ ears.

Read more »


Army should give details on changes at Madigan

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The way Madigan Army Medical Center treated Oregon’s 41st National Guard Brigade last year was unacceptable, the Army admits, and changes have been made to address the problem.

It just won’t say what those changes are. According to the Army, that information – as well as details about the investigation – are classified.

Talk about unacceptable.

It’s understandable that privacy issues might be involved, but that can be handled by redacting names. Government entities do that all the time. Another reason the Army gives for keeping the information secret is that it pertains to quality assurance – which sounds like an awfully broad and convenient classification.
Read more »


New leadership for the ‘new normal’ at the UW

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Michael Young and Debra Friedman are nothing if not brave.

The two – he, the next University of Washington president, and she, the next chancellor for University of Washington Tacoma – are joining a university under incredible strain.

Their credentials and records of accomplishment mark them as hard chargers up to the challenge. That’s encouraging. If ever the state’s higher education institutions were in need of impressive leadership, it is now.

Last year, for the first time, UW students paid a greater share of their education than the state. And the Legislature, mired in a budget crisis, isn’t done cutting higher education. The UW is looking at losing 50 percent of its state funding in just four short years.

Such is the “new normal,” as the UW’s interim president Phyllis Wise puts it. State universities face enormous challenges to stay true to their public mission by preserving college opportunity for state students.

Read more »


Wanted: Up-or-down ruling on ‘executive privilege’

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office has claimed immunity from the state’s public records law at least 500 times in the past four years.

That may have been six times too many to keep the charade alive.

The Freedom Foundation, a libertarian think tank, is suing Gregoire after her office partially denied the foundation’s request for 11 documents.

Gubernatorial staffers withheld five records and part of a sixth, citing “executive privilege,” a nebulous exception to the state’s sunshine laws that appears nowhere in statute.

State lawyers claim the privilege is inherent in the constitutional separation of powers, and they point to a Snohomish County court ruling from 2006 for support.

Problem is, that was the assessment of one trial judge for one county. No Washington state appellate court has ever squarely tackled the question of executive privilege. The state Supreme Court had a chance a few years back but declined to weigh in.

Read more »


Light rail vs. fat cats: Less money for the rest of us

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

No Sound Transit project gets built quickly or easily, but the effort to push light rail out to King County’s Eastside is beginning to take on Herculean proportions.

The three-county transit agency ostensibly won a key legal victory last week against Eastside developers trying to keep light rail out of Bellevue by blocking its path across the Interstate 90 floating bridge.

But this is just round one. The monied interests fighting Sound Transit have promised another go, and they just might land a few jabs next time.

Read more »


Honesty took a nap after Zina Linnik’s murder

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Almost four years after the fact, the public has learned why the Tacoma Police Department took so long to put out an Amber Alert for a missing and murdered Tacoma girl: The officer asked to do it fell asleep.

The outrage isn’t the 12 hours it took to issue the alert after 12-year-old Zina Linnik was abducted on July 4, 2007. It’s the more than three years the police department took to acknowledge what happened – a coverup that deliberately misled the public and is still being soft-pedaled by City Manager Eric

Read more »


Let injured workers decide their own best interests

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Prospects for reforming the ailing workers’ compensation system got a boost earlier this week from a group of moderate House Democrats.

The coalition – which includes Reps. Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor, Troy Kelley of Tacoma and Chris Hurst of Enumclaw – has the votes to pass the measure. Eight of them plus 42 Republicans in the House equals a majority.

The question is, will there be a vote? The liberal faction of the House Democratic caucus is up in arms about the attempt to push through some form of lump-sum settlements for injured workers and is threatening retaliatory legislation.

If the newest plan can’t make it to the House floor, it’s hard to imagine the Legislature making meaningful changes to the workers’ compensation system anytime soon.

Read more »