Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: March 2012

March
22nd

‘Hide/Seek’ offers insights that couldn’t be more current


Berenice Abbott’s 1927 photo of Janet Flanner depicts the closeted lesbian writer as wearing masks, suggesting her need to hide her identity.

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Last year at this time, the Tacoma Art Museum was showing works by Norman Rockwell. Some in the arts community sniffed that his nostalgic view of America was less art than illustration – even “kitsch.”

But that show, which was hugely popular, brought people to Tacoma who might not have visited otherwise. The same can be said of the current show, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” in its only West Coast venue.

The show has only been open a few days, so it’s hard to gauge if it will draw as many visitors as the Rockwell by the time it ends June 12 – visitors who, we hope, will stay and see what else the area has to offer. But it’s a big show with an edgy theme, several provocative pieces and a bit of a notorious pedigree, having stirred up controversy when it was shown at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

That museum was pressured to pull a video, “Fire in My Belly,” which includes images some found distasteful, including ants scurrying over a crucifix. TAM visitors will be able to see that video, as well they should; it’s powerful and thought-provoking – as good art should be. Read more »

March
21st

JBLM’s issues need to be considered in context with Army’s

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

When the Stryker “kill team” arrests and prosecutions were in the news, Joint Base Lewis-McChord started getting labeled: “most troubled” base, “base on the brink” and even “rogue.”

Then a former JBLM soldier killed a Mount Rainier ranger. And the capper: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a JBLM Stryker soldier from a different brigade as the “kill team” members, is accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians March 11. Nine of the victims were children, three were women.

Are these most recent examples – along with other crimes and a disturbing rate of suicide – conclusive evidence that there’s something rotten at JBLM?
Read more »

March
21st

Tacoma Dome getting washed – finally

Thanks to a public-spirited person (who wishes to remain anonymous), the filthy Tacoma Dome roof will finally be cleaned (read the story here). It was getting so dingy that I was thinking about writing an editorial begging  the city to just paint it a brownish gray and be done with it.

The donation covers up to $108,835 of the cleaning cost (can anyone explain that number?), and work reportedly begins Monday. The last time the roof was cleaned, according to our story, was 2003! Sure hope it doesn’t go another nine years between cleanings.

One commenter on the article

Read more »

March
20th

Lawmakers must ensure state pension sustainability

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

All over the country, pension systems for public workers are in trouble. Many are woefully underfunded. Nationally the deficit was $1 trillion at the end of 2008, and it’s been widening since as baby boom workers retired in growing numbers and the recession battered investment funds.

Washington is in better shape than most states. As of 2008, according to the Pew Center on the States, it was one of only four states whose pension systems were fully funded.

But, according to Pew, “Washington needs to improve how it manages its long-term liabilities for both pensions and retiree health care and other benefits. The state has failed to meet its actuarially required contributions since 2001.”
Read more »

March
19th

After 10 years of war, the Army looks due for relief

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Individual soldiers have their breaking points. So do armies.

We don’t know the story behind a staff sergeant’s alleged massacre of Afghan villagers March 11, but it’s reasonable to assume he was not a paragon of mental health. The fact that he was on his fourth combat deployment may have had something to do with that.

The entire U.S. Army might be described as on its fourth deployment – or fifth, or eighth – since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, respectively, in 2001 and 2003. It’s hardly facing collapse, but symptoms of stress – such as a spiking suicide rate – are all too evident. Read more »

March
18th

Court ruling aside, traffic camera foes still have options

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The Washington Supreme Court has spoken, and opponents of red-light cameras don’t like what it had to say.

The court ruled last week that local initiatives can’t be used to block or remove traffic-enforcement cameras – such as the ones that photograph the license plates of red-light runners in several South Sound cities. State law gives only city councils authority over those cameras, the court said.

The response from camera opponents – most notably Tim “Mr. Initiative” Eyman – was fast and furious. The decision, he said, sounds “un-American.” Critics say they are disappointed and angry that the citizens have been muscled out of the decision-making process.

But they haven’t been really. Read more »

March
17th

The choice in Olympia: Pretty budget or real budget

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

We’d love to see a happy compromise between the budget-writers of the state Senate and House, who’ve come up with starkly different spending plans to carry the state government through the end of the biennium.

But if forced to choose between the two supplemental budgets, we’ll take the Senate’s – specifically, the amended version announced Thursday.

There’s a lot to dislike in that plan, which cleared the Senate after Republicans and three maverick “Road Kill” Democrats pulled a surprise maneuver on the chamber’s Democratic leadership. Their budget pares back a slew of

Read more »

March
15th

Mental health sales tax: Tell Tacoma what it’s buying

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council is moving quietly and quickly toward an increase in the city’s sales tax. It ought to be moving noisily and slowly.

The tenth-of-a-percent tax, which the council could enact Tuesday, is expected to bring in $2.6 million in 2013 and rising amounts thereafter.

It wouldn’t be a lot at the checkout counter – just a penny on a $10 purchase. Its intentions are good: preserving or expanding programs that improve mental health and reduce addiction. But it is a tax, and it needs more public discussion than it’s gotten so far.

One concern is that the council has no clear plan for spending much of the money. Instead of first identifying priorities, then collecting the tax, city officials want to get the tax on the books ASAP. Then they will launch a process to decide how it gets spent.

The haste is driven by desperation. Past councils and administrations have saddled the city with a scary revenue shortfall that threatens deep cuts to police and fire protection, and other vital public services. City funding for human services – homelessness and mental health programs among them – is endangered.

Half of the new tax – $1.3 million a year – could be used initially to replace existing funding for such programs. If the council moves quickly enough ­– by the end of March – it could start collecting the money this July.

Hence the rush. If the schedule slips past this month, collections would slip to October.
Read more »