Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: May 2012

May
31st

A mecca for car lovers, a new landmark for Tacoma


Doug LeMay, son of the late Harold LeMay, backs the family's treasured 1948 Tucker into the new LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma. (Dean J. Koepfler / Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Americans, it’s said, have a love affair with the automobile. Now they have a shiny new place to rendezvous for their trysts.

The LeMay-America’s Car Museum – the nation’s largest car museum and the second-most-visible structure as motorists drive through Tacoma on Interstate 5 – is staging its grand opening Saturday. It’s already getting national attention, including a splashy New York Times article headlined “A Car Hoard, Pruned to a Collection, Gets a Fitting Home,” complete with a photograph slideshow on the Times’ website. Read more »

May
30th

Bizarre logic wins the case against helmets in Milton

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Let’s get this straight: Milton must let bicyclists and skateboarders endanger themselves because they might sue the city if they hurt themselves?

We’ll have to let the trial attorneys explain that pretzel of logic; we sure can’t figure it out.

The Milton City Council last week repealed its 12-year-old ordinance requiring skateboarders and other rolling daredevils to wear helmets at the Milltown Commons Skatepark, a popular attraction for area skaters.

City officials cited two reasons for ditching the ordinance. Blame the state for one of them; blame the bizarre quirks of litigation for the other.

And maybe throw in some blame for the City of Milton, too – for an overabundance of timidity.

The town’s leaders cite the State of Washington’s failure to require helmets as a reason the city shouldn’t require them, either.

But the state is negligent about many things; it’s not necessarily a great role model for cities and counties. Washington ought to have a statewide helmet law, given that taxpayers usually wind up on the hook for the medical expenses when an unhelmeted skater or bicyclist accidentally substitutes his cranium for his brakes.
Read more »

May
29th

Click ads at odds with residents’ anti-billboard fervor

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

For many Tacomans, big billboards are anathema, a blight on the city. At packed meetings, residents pleaded with city officials to continue fighting the major billboard company, Clear Channel Outdoor, which wants to replace its static signs with digital ones that change the message on a regular basis.

So what about all that makes Tacoma Public Utilities officials think that the public would be happy about advertising its city-owned Click Network on billboards?

In December – four months after the City Council voted to update its outdoor sign ordinance by banning digital signs and getting rid of 190 nonconforming ones – Click contracted with Clear Channel to advertise on many of those same nonconforming signs. Its one-year contract funnels $105,415 to Clear Channel for at least 13 billboards and accompanying production costs.
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May
28th

Little crystals, big bangs: A step toward lahar warnings

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Predicting volcanic eruptions is of more than academic interest in this part of the country.

The Cascade Range contains a string of giant powder kegs – Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker among them – that can explode with the force of nuclear weapons. Eruptions would be less of a worry if we had some advance warning, but Mother Earth tends to play her cards close to the vest.

Volcanologists may be teasing out some of her secrets, though. An article in last week’s issue of Science magazine described a newly discovered link between underground crystals and the surges of magma that turn snow-covered peaks into steaming, fulminating killers.

Mount St. Helens was the researchers’ test subject. Studying its rocks, a team based at the University of Bristol in England found patterns closely correlated to the volcano’s fits of anger. Their electron microscopes revealed that the tiny “orthopyroxene” crystals were reliable indicators of what the underground magma was up to during their formation.

The chemistry of the crystals reportedly reflected the properties of nearby molten rock, including pressures, vapor content and movement. The scientists matched these profiles with eruptions that occurred between 1980 and 1986. It turned out that crystals formed when the mountain was getting ready to blow up had distinct chemical fingerprints marked by high levels of iron or magnesium.
Read more »

May
28th

There’s a reason for that law

“Your dog needs to be leashed. This is not an off-leash area. Please leash your dog.”

Recent responses to this civil request:

* S/he’s OK.
* S/he wouldn’t hurt anybody.
* It’s Easter. We’re giving her/him a break.
* You’re probably Republicans.
* Zero. (The ear buds cancel communication.)

But, communication is what we must have. The issue of irresponsible dog ownership in our community is real.

How do I know?

Let me walk you through Thursday morning, May 17, 2012.

It’s 11:45 am. My husband and I are on our back porch, rummaging

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May
27th

To the Americans who fell, an obligation of memory

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

A few thoughts on Memorial Day:

• This may be the holiday most often confused with something else.

Some think it’s about veterans. By definition, though, it’s about the Americans who went to war but didn’t survive to become veterans. Veterans have their own well-deserved day, in November.

Some think it’s an occasion for honoring all the dead, especially dead loved ones, regardless of whether they were killed in action. But when Memorial Day is about everyone, it’s really about no one in particular.

If the original purpose of the holiday is

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May
26th

Try reasonable middle way to license illegal immigrants

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

One issue that has arisen in the state gubernatorial race is whether people seeking driver’s licenses should have to prove legal residency. Washington is one of only two states – New Mexico is the other – that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain unrestricted driver’s licenses – ones that can be used for personal identification purposes.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, wants applicants to show Social Security documentation in order to be licensed to drive. His opponent, Democrat Jay Inslee, isn’t ready to go there.

Inslee is right – to a point. Requiring

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May
24th

Farmers markets can help the poor improve their diets


The federal government is spending $4 million to make farmers markets more accessible to food stamp recipients. (Allen Breed/The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

With spring come the farmers markets and booths overflowing with fresh produce direct from local growers – often harvested that very morning.

For low-income folks who often don’t have easy access to supermarkets, farmers markets have the potential for being important sources of low-calorie, high-nutrient fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices.

In the South Sound, several farmers markets – including all four in Tacoma – make it easy for low-income shoppers to buy their produce. They accept such alternative forms of payment as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps), as well as WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and senior vouchers.
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