Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Aug. 2011


Craigslist killing a warning to all who buy or sell online

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

For the family of Jim Sanders, the worst is over.

They had to endure four separate trials, but in the end, three men and one woman were convicted of terrorizing the Edgewood family and killing Sanders on an April night last year. The last co-conspirator will be sentenced next week. If any of them ever get out of prison, they will be very, very old.

But Sanders’ widow and two sons will always have the terrible memory of that night – of having their home invaded, of being tied up and beaten. Their beloved husband and father is gone forever, all because the good-hearted Sanders trusted that a young woman was who she said she was – a daughter who wanted to buy a ring for her mother that Sanders had advertised on Craigslist.

Many of us probably would have been just as willing to invite a young woman into our home. What happened to the Sanders family could have happened to anyone who is of a trusting nature, who doesn’t readily suspect the darkness that can lurk in some hearts. Read more »


Tacoma school strike threatens unconscionable family distress

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Decisions to strike are made by unions, so the responsibility for opening Tacoma’s schools on time Thursday rests squarely on the Tacoma Education Association.

Advice: Be there for the children.

This is not question of caving in on everything vs. shutting down the schools. The TEA has a third option – temporarily working without a contract, which is commonly done when public employee unions are at impasse with employers.

It’s not a good option, just the least bad. The school district and the union must figure out how to swallow the Legislature’s

Read more »


Shot in the arm for supporters of childhood vaccination

Guadaloupe Robinson, 6, receives an MMR vaccine at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma in October 2010. Dad Reggie Robinson offers moral support. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Just in time for the start of the school year comes a welcome endorsement of vaccinations – and repudiation of efforts to link them to everything from diabetes and autism to death.

An independent team of medical experts conducted a comprehensive study of the latest research and found that vaccinations rarely have serious side effects, and when they do they tend to be in people with pre-existing immune system disorders. That should come as welcome news to parents who might be reluctant to have their children immunized for school because of what they’ve read or heard about the safety of vaccines.

The most widespread claim – which has already been found to be false – links the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism. Although the link has been debunked and the doctor who made it had his license revoked in his native Britain, about one in four parents still believes it.

Read more »


Lame-duck school board shouldn’t rush to hire next chief

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Tacoma School Superintendent Art Jarvis has announced that he’s retiring, but he’ll stick around until the end of the school year.

Carla Santorno

So why is the school board apparently fast-tracking selection of his replacement? On Sept. 7 it will publicly interview the sole in-house candidate, Deputy Superintendent Carla Santorno, and decide the next day whether to hire her or keep searching.

Two of the board members who will make that decision are lame ducks. If they hired Santorno, not they but their successors would have to work with her.

The current five-person board is guaranteed to have two new faces in early December – a 40 percent turnover in membership with the departure of incumbents Jim Dugan and Kim Golding. There’s no good reason why the interview with Santorno – and the decision whether to hire her – can’t wait for their replacements to be seated.

The four candidates for the two board positions, who will face off in the Nov. 8 general election (if current vote trends continue and the results certified Wednesday), are Dexter Gordon and Scott Heinze for Position 3 and Karen Vialle and Kim Washington for Position 5.

Read more »


It’s a little late to plead ignorance about pot shops

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Looks like another round of dithering from the Tacoma City Council on medical marijuana.

At the council’s behest, Mayor Marilyn Strickland is assembling a “task force” of citizens tasked with helping council members shirk accountability for letting a commercial marijuana industry fester illegally in the city.

The group is supposed to advise the council on whether it should tolerate marijuana stores, also known as dispensaries. It’s hard to see this as anything but an attempt to outsource the question to people who bear no public accountability for it.

The issue came before the council last year and has been hotly debated ever since; any council member who actually needed more facts on the matter at this point would do well to confess a case of terminal obtuseness and resign.

The council has had time to study the issue ad nauseum. It knows that every competent legal authority, from the city attorney on up to the county prosecutor and the state attorney general, says that the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law, including the initiative that legalized medical marijuana in 1998.

The law does allow collective gardens of no more than 45 plants shared by a maximum of 10 patients, who can hire a skilled marijuana gardener (no shortage of those) on a strictly nonprofit basis.

The Seattle City Council has decided to pretend that this explicit restriction somehow allows dispensaries to sell pot to unlimited numbers of customers.

For the Tacoma City Council, the question is whether to mimic Seattle’s toleration policy or actually honor the law. It ought to close Tacoma’s roughly 50 marijuana stores – which for some strange reason far outnumber the city’s pharmacies – and stick to genuine collective gardens.
Read more »


Playground by the Sound has bucks, needs builders

Playground by the Sound, which will be built by volunteers Sept. 20-25, will have a sweeping view over the Chambers Bay golf course and Puget Sound. (Staff file photo)

This editorial appears in Friday’s print edition.

Less than a month from now, a small army is scheduled to descend on the west slope of University Place. It will be a peaceful army with one mission: build the Playground by the Sound.

The army still needs volunteers to commit to at least one “building blitz” shift Sept. 20-25. Under supervision of Leathers & Associates consultants and volunteer coordinator Rebecca Vader, they will construct the 12,000-square-foot, handicap-accessible playground in the North Meadow of Chambers Creek Properties. Also needed are donations of materials, use of building tools, food for the workers and day care for their children. Read more »


Tacoma schools must open on time next week

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma School District has long enjoyed a rare degree of community support, as evidenced by successful levies and generous construction funding.

That bond must not be broken lightly – and a potential teachers strike next week threatens to do just that.

Let’s be clear about what led to the tense showdown between Tacoma’s school administrators and teachers.

This isn’t a matter of greedy teachers or callous school officials. A stark conflict was built into their contract talks from the start. District leaders and the Tacoma Education Association are at odds because the Legislature was forced to cut funding for the state’s public schools last spring.

Had the district received money enough to maintain a healthy-sized staff and strong programs – and give teachers the money and small classes they want, everyone would have walked away smiling before now.

Nor are lawmakers the culprits. They were dealt a losing hand by the distressed economy, which forced brutal cuts throughout state government, schools and colleges. The core issue in Tacoma is the core issue everywhere else: The money just ain’t there.
Read more »


Tacoma could be leader in clean-water technology

This editorial appears in Wednesday’s print edition.

There shouldn’t be any doubt whether Tacoma should pursue an “Innovation Partnership Zone” designation for a piece of land on the east Foss Waterway.

That designation would give added impetus to what the city and its boosters have wanted all along for that area: to use the Center for Urban Waters as a magnet for businesses focused on green technologies – specifically ones dealing with clean water.

The city’s application meets most of the state’s requirements for an IPZ. For instance, it has room to accommodate growth and would provide a focused area for research. What it lacks is a globally competitive firm to partner with – but that is not considered to be a deal-breaker if the city can show that it’s likely to find such a company. Read more »