Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: May 2011


Selling UP Town Center doesn’t come cheap

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The City of University Place has spent, on average, $42,000 a year on travel to market Town Center over the past five years.

Is that an unreasonable expense for a property owner pitching a $250 million development with the potential to permanently expand the city’s tax base and give it the central town square it’s never had?

No. Had the city not invested the money, critics might rightfully charge that University Place hadn’t done enough to secure the project’s success.

The better question is: Did the right people take the trips to woo retailers, sketch out the shopping center’s look and lobby for federal money?

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Measles outbreak shows threat of vaccine holdouts

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

In 2005, health officials welcomed news that there had been only 37 cases of measles in the United States the previous year – the smallest number in the 90 years that such records had been kept.

Fast forward six years. Already in 2011, 118 cases have been reported in 23 states, including Washington – the highest number this early in the year since 1996. Although no one has died, 40 percent of those infected needed hospitalization. Among the complications of measles are pneumonia and encephalitis.

So why the surge in cases now?
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Public payrolls due for a post-recession correction

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The numbers underscore what has been obvious for some time now: The recession isn’t the only reason local governments’ budgets are squeezed.

In many cases, pay raises promised during better times have outstripped the ability of the economy and taxpayers to keep up.

Local government officials should be gearing up to drive a harder bargain, if they haven’t already.

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Military family aid measure needs more work

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

United Way of Pierce County wants to do more for local troops and their families, and it hopes voters do too.

The organization has asked the Pierce County Council to place on the November ballot a new property tax to fund an array of social and mental health services to military families.

It’s a small tax – five cents on each $1,000 of assessed valuation or $12.50 a year for the owner of $250,000 house – but one that raises big questions.

Such as, should county property taxpayers be footing the bill for services that are arguably the responsibility of the federal government? Exactly how large is the unmet need?

Here’s another: Should a countywide tax to pay for social services benefit only service members and their dependents?

Military families have unique and pressing needs, but they are not the only county residents slipping through the cracks. Local and state government budget shortfalls have left many vulnerable people without the services they desperately need.

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Fife PD’s eruption of bad behavior has heads shaking

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Night shift at the Fife Police Department apparently was quite a lively scene at times. At least one assumes that the past tense is appropriate.

According to an outside investigation, 17-year veteran Lt. Jeff Westover exposed himself on numerous occasions to a female subordinate and had sex with her once in the police station while they were working the night shift.

The woman and several other female employees also claim that Westover showed them pornographic images on his cell phone – highly inappropriate behavior by anyone in the workplace and especially a supervisor.
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Moderates are clear winners of legislative session

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The so-called “roadkill caucus” – centrist Democrats in the state Legislature frustrated with the dominant liberal factions of their party – will have to find a new name.

The roadkillers didn’t so much get thrown under the bus in 2011 as drive it.

Case in point: the budget deal unveiled Tuesday – the first in a long while to justifiably claim the bipartisan label.

The spending plan, unveiled jointly by Democrat and Republican budget writers, was a feat of compromise. Working across the aisle, lawmakers were able to stave off the cruelest of options for filling the state’s $5 billion shortfall.

“Reduce, but not eliminate” was their guiding mantra.

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Ballot-shy Pierce Transit risks vicious cycle of cuts

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Pierce Transit is again courting rebellion in East Pierce County.

The agency’s proposal to drop service to Bonney Lake, Sumner, Buckley and Orting would help preserve service on urban routes with the most ridership.

But the cuts also have revived talk about seceding from the taxing district, a move that would further cripple the agency’s ability to provide a crucial service.

Officials in outlying Pierce County communities first discussed withdrawing from Pierce Transit last year as the agency came to terms with the recession’s blow to a system built on the assumption of 6 percent annual income growth.

At that time, the agency successfully held off threats of succession with a plan to prop up its shaky finances with a fat tax increase. But in February, voters shot down the agency’s request for a 50 percent hike in its sales tax rate.

Pierce Transit should have returned to the ballot with a more disciplined plan tied to a smaller tax request. Instead, it has continued to frame its plight in stark terms. Thirty-five percent of the transit system is going under the ax because the agency couldn’t max out its taxing authority.

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Doppler Alert: It’s raining Mad Men

Just when you think its safe to stow the umbrella and bare your ankles, it starts raining “dirty old men” from coast to coast.

From California to the New York island, this land is caught in a torrential downpour of lechers, misogynists and straight-out-of-the-sixties male chauvinists. A groping governor fathering a secret “love child” with his housekeeper and, the head of the International Monetary Fund arrested for the sexual assault of a chambermaid are just the latest wave in a long season of high-profile men leching it up.

It’s a climate that leaves spouses and children strewn across headlines, and some women wondering when feminism died, or if it had ever been born.

Had the perpetrator of my feminist angst really gone the way of cliches and padded shoulders, or had the “male chauvinist” been here all along?

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