Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: June 2012


Washam’s stubbornness costly to county – and taxpayers

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

For Pierce County government, tight budgets during the economic downturn have meant taking such belt-tightening measures as layoffs, furloughs and canceling Superior Court jury trials for two weeks to save the cost of paying $10 a day to members of the jury pool.

Next year’s budget looks even more challenging. Revenue is badly needed – especially new revenue.

An important source of that is the tax collected on new construction. But the county and other taxing districts could miss out on millions of dollars in new revenue for at least a year because Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam has told his inspectors to focus exclusively on physical inspections of existing properties. Those inspections were at the crux of his vendetta against his predecessor, Ken Madsen.
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Next test for Obamacare: The November election

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The U.S. Supreme Court has settled the biggest question about Obamacare: Is it constitutional? Now comes the second question: Is it politically sustainable?

Supporters of the law have complained bitterly of the legal challenge that 26 Republican attorneys general – including Washington’s Rob McKenna – mounted against the Affordable Care Act.

But without the lawsuit, the act’s legality wouldn’t have been settled this soon. There would have been no victory in court on Thursday, and the massive law would still be dogged by the threat of unresolved constitutional issues.

As it happened,

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Unintended (but good) possible consequences of Obamacare

I’ve read a lot of commentary about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the Supreme Court decision, but I haven’t seen much about what might be one of its best consequences – if the legislation survives: job creation.

Eugene Robinson touches on it in his column that appears Friday in the print edition. He writes:

Tying health insurance to the workplace also distorts the labor market and discourages entrepreneurship by forcing some employees to stay where they are – even in dead-end jobs – rather than give up health insurance. For healthy individuals, it is crushingly expensive to buy insurance

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Death behind bars shouldn’t be automatic for juveniles

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week on juvenile sentencing has been widely misconstrued.

The court did not forbid judges from sentencing the youngest murderers to life in prison without a chance of parole. It did forbid states from automatically requiring – through mandatory sentencing schemes – that killers be locked up until death for murders they committed as juveniles.

The ruling might affect six inmates from Pierce County, including two of the perpetrators of Tacoma’s infamous 1998 Trang Dai massacre.

The most dramatic Pierce County case – possibly the most dramatic case in the country – is that of Barry Massey, who was sent up for life after helping kill a marina operator in Steilacoom in 1987 at age 13. At the time, Massey was the youngest defendant in America to receive that penalty.

Life without parole is an important sentencing option. Many supporters of capital punishment fear that depraved killers will eventually be released if they are not executed. Some jurors will opt for life in prison instead of execution if they are assured that the killer will actually remain behind bars.

But the court majority Monday rightly struck down an Alabama law that ordered judges not to factor in circumstances or chances of rehabilitation in juvenile cases.

To state the obvious, adolescents are not adults. By definition, they lack maturity and have had less opportunity to rise above what may have been hellish childhoods. The moral compasses of many teenagers aren’t fully operational. As a rule, they are more emotional and impulsive, and much less likely to think through the consequences of their action.
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Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

What a shock to hear of the death of the very funny writer and director, Nora Ephron. She’s best known for her screenplays for “Sleepless in Seattle” (which she also directed), “Silkwood” and “When Harry Met Sally.” She was 71.

I just finished reading her book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” Any woman over 50 or so can identify. 




Food stamps: No SNAP for buying sugary soda pop

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Should “nutrition assistance” money – food stamps – be used to buy items that have no nutritional value whatsoever and often make people sick?

We’re talking chips, cookies, sugary sodas and other junk food associated with Americans’ disturbingly high rates of obesity, diabetes and other conditions that help kill people and drive health costs higher.

Those conditions are more prevalent among the low-income – and they’re the ones who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That program (formerly called food stamps) provides funding assistance through cards that look like regular credit cards.

Increasingly, health experts and some lawmakers are saying that SNAP money should have some strings attached – like no junk food. Read more »


Advice for judge wannabes

Here’s some unsolicited advice for judicial candidates: Ask your campaign volunteers not to break any laws while they’re out posting your signs. It just looks bad when they do.

Here’s the scenario I observed this morning on my way to work: At the busy intersection of Pine and Center Street, a tall, bearded gentleman carrying a sign in one hand and a hammer in the other walked across Pine while the pedestrian signal clearly said not to cross. He pounded the sign in, giving everyone stopped at the light a good look at the name on it (a candidate for

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Congress has failed on immigration for far too long

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Illegal immigration is a problem only the federal government can fix. America can’t have 50 states with 50 different immigration policies.

The U.S. Supreme Court was right Monday when it killed Arizona’s move to criminalize job-seeking by illegal aliens, arrest them without warrants and require all immigrants to carry papers.

Arizona usurped federal authority when it included those provisions in the hard-line immigration law it enacted in 2010. Most media hotheads have focused on another part of the law, the one that would allow police officers to check the immigration status of

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