Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: May 2011


Too bad parties play political football with DREAM Act

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

It would be a shame if partisan politics kept Congress from passing at least some version of the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship for young illegal aliens who serve in the military or make significant progress in college.

But that seems to be happening as the legislation becomes a chip in a high-stakes game of brinksmanship over the immigration issue, with both parties using it to score points with their constituencies.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of young people who want to contribute to their country through the military or higher education are left in limbo.
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Case closed on Maurice Clemmons’ reign of terror

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The last verdict for the cold-blooded killings of four Lakewood police officers is in, and with it, Pierce County is witness to the reach and limits of justice.

Killer Maurice Clemmons, shot dead by a police officer while on the run in Seattle, was not around to stand trial. But his accomplices know well the brunt of the law.

Getaway driver Dorcus Allen, convicted by a jury Thursday on four counts of first-degree murder for his role in the November 2009 murders, faces life in prison. Five other friends and relatives of Clemmons are serving a combined 34 years behind bars.

Defense lawyers at times intimated that the defendants were up against a community intent on vengeance. Last week, Allen’s attorney, Peter Mazzone, one-upped the rest, calling his client’s conviction a “modern-day lynching.”

The charge is an insult to the jurors who now know the case far more intimately than most of us ever will.

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Soundtrack for the end of the world

Having an end-of-the-world party? If you believe 89-year-old Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping – and who am I to say he’s a deluded nut case? – Judgment Day is coming. At 6 p.m. PDT Saturday, to be precise.

That’s when a powerful, worldwide earthquake is supposed to hit, throwing open all the graves. The righteous will ascend to heaven in the Rapture and the sinners will be left in torment to endure the chaos and destruction that will be rained down on Earth.

Guess that mean I don’t have to plan dinner for Saturday. Well, maybe I’ll pick up

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A prescription for discord: Fire a popular principal

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Calling for the school superintendent’s head is fast becoming the newest rite of spring.

Across the South Sound, school chiefs are taking it on the chin this month for hiring and firing decisions affecting popular school administrators. What has always been an annual exercise in setting new leadership lineups for the fall has emerged as a flash point for community outrage.

Students, parents and teachers in three Pierce County school districts have mounted protests, petition drives and email campaigns in support of favorite administrators.

Puyallup may be the inspiration for the latest round of lobbying efforts, even if community members’ demands that Rogers High School keep its principal have not been met.

Hundreds of people packed the school board meeting earlier this month, shouting down board members and forcing the meeting’s adjournment. The protest, broadcast on the nightly news, was a display of raw indignation.

Now Foss High School supporters in Tacoma are upset, charging that the reassignment of the school’s principal is payback for push-back on the district’s proposal earlier this year to close the high school.

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Those illegally posted medical pot signs have an enemy in high places

And yes, pun intended.

Your eyes weren’t deceiving you, Federal Wayans. (Is there some other way they refer to themselves?)

That guy you spotted out in the wee hours the other night, picking up illegal “get your medical marijuana card” signs, was none other than your mayor, Skip Priest.

Priest called today to thank us for our editorials on the medical marijuana dispensary legislation. He’s fed up with the illegal signs being posted in rights-of-way advertising a toll-free number to call to find out how to get an authorization to buy medical marijuana. He got so worked up about them

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Tacoma Art Museum wears its 75 years well

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition

Tacoma Art Museum (Staff file photo)

To future historians writing about Tacoma, let the record show: When others were giving up on downtown and moving out, the Tacoma Art Museum not only stayed, it dug in. And in doing so, it became a leading force in the city’s arts-based renaissance.

The museum, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary with exhibits by Norman Rockwell (ending May 30) and Dale Chihuly (beginning Saturday), has been a downtown fixture since 1958. That’s when it moved from Jones Hall (at what is now the University of Puget Sound) into rented storefront space at 742 Broadway.

From 1963 to 1971, the museum was lodged in “The Old Jailhouse” at 621 Pacific Ave. It took a giant step forward in its development in 1971 by moving into larger digs in the former National Bank of Washington building at 1123 Pacific. At a time when other old buildings were being torn down, TAM decided to give one a brand new use – a practice that would become a downtown Tacoma trademark in years to come. Read more »


Too soon for Sound Transit to write off Pierce County

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

A down economy could leave potential Federal Way and Pierce County light rail users waiting at the station – permanently.

Sound Transit anticipates a $3.9 billion hole in the $18 billion transit plan voters approved in 2008, a hole that would likely swallow plans to extend light rail to the northern end of Federal Way.

Agency officials recently projected that building the line out to South 272nd Street would require at least 11 extra years and the cancellation of all other transit projects in south King County.

The best transit planners figure they can do is get the line to Highline Community College in Des Moines, two miles to the north. Even that plan would require sacrifices – possibly the postponement of parking expansions at Sounder rail stations in Kent and Auburn.

Still, a temporary terminus at Highline is a better outcome than the agency had thought it could deliver: a final station at South 200th Street in SeaTac. Every mile closer to Federal Way helps seed the argument for the line’s build-out to Tacoma.

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New teachers dodge bullet, no thanks to lawmakers

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

State lawmakers owe a big debt to all the resigning and retiring teachers who forestalled large-scale layoffs in South Sound school districts this year.

But for those teachers, students and their families might have had a personal lesson in how flawed the state’s teacher retention policies are.

Seniority still rules teacher layoffs despite the fact that the vast majority of voters say they want districts to pink-slip the least effective teachers first.

The antiquated policy is costly in two ways: It robs schools of some of the best and brightest, and it leaves high-salaried burnout cases on the payroll, requiring districts to lay off more teachers to make budget.

In the South Sound, the Bethel School District is one of the few exceptions to the no-layoff rule, and its experience is a window on what might have been elsewhere.

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