Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Aug. 2012


Peninsula teacher, district failed a bullied boy

Students haze another student while a teacher is in the room at Kopachuck Middle School In February. (Frame grab from video provided by Peninsula School District)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

What happened to an eighth-grader in the Peninsula School District Feb. 2 wasn’t – as teacher his teacher described it – “horseplay.” If the mobile phone videos aren’t taking the episode out of context, it’s more like cruel bullying, verging on child abuse.

The boy is dragged around a classroom, then held down under chairs and taunted by at least a dozen other bigger students at Kopachuck Middle School. His socks are stripped off. One is stuffed in his mouth and a pillow placed over his face. Read more »


Campaign accounts not meant to be slush funds

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

There’s a big gray area in state campaign finance policy that could use more black and white.

That gray area lurks in the little-scrutinized surplus accounts – where excess money donated to lawmakers’ campaigns sits until the next election. Some lawmakers return the money to donors, give it to their party to spend on other candidates or donate it to charity.

But they can also use money in those accounts for what state law calls “public office-related expenses.” And apparently that’s a matter of fairly loose interpretation.
Read more »


Armstrong embodied the human hunger to understand

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

You don’t succeed as an engineer or survive as a test pilot without being an intensely practical person. Yet the practical Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered for leading one of humanity’s most impractical adventures.

America had no pragmatic reason to go the moon in the 1960s. While the Apollo program spun off many inventions, the moon voyages were not about developing freeze-dried food or cordless tools. They were mainly about sending human beings up to the nearest heavenly body to have a look around.

Curiosity, pure and simple. It seems appropriate that when Armstrong died Saturday, the Martian rover Curiosity – NASA’s latest impractical adventure – had just begun exploring the bleak landscape of Mars.

In 1969, when Armstrong stepped out of the lunar lander, robots weren’t supposed to be the stars of the U.S. space program. Decades of science fiction had conditioned the world to expect humans to play the lead role in exploring Mars and deep space.

But after six trips to the moon, the United States lost interest and didn’t go back. That was 40 years ago; since then, our astronauts have been tooling around in near-Earth orbit.
Read more »


Pacific is anything but as citizens launch recall effort

David Messinger and Patty Lines are among those working to recall Pacific's mayor. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

There’s no little irony in what’s going on in the town of Pacific, whose name is defined as “appeasing, conciliatory, of a peaceful nature, mild, tranquil, calm.”

These days, Pacific – a city of 6,600 that straddles the King-Pierce County line – is anything but pacific.

It all started in a Capraesque kind of way. Distressed by what he believed to be wasteful city spending, an ordinary guy launched a grass-roots effort to oust the mayor and win the seat for himself through write-in votes. Incredibly, it worked, and he took office in January.

Only Cy Sun wasn’t Jimmy Stewart. More like Dale Washam, if the mayor’s critics are to be believed. Read more »


America’s war in Afghanistan has reached the end game

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Compared with past wars, America’s struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan has been light on casualties.

After almost 12 years, the U.S. death toll stands at roughly 2,000. In the bloodiest battles of World War II and the Civil War, this country has lost that many in a single day.

But the trend – reflected in a spate of recent casualties among soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – has been headed in the wrong direction. A New York Times analysis last week showed that the rate of deaths has risen dramatically in the last two years.

A few numbers tell the story: It took almost nine years for the United States to lose its first 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. It took only 27 months to lose the second 1,000.
Read more »


From our U.S. attorney, more flabbiness on pot shops

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington, says marijuana shops shouldn’t operate within 1,000 feet of schools or playgrounds. Naughty, naughty.

One question: What about marijuana shops more than 1,000 feet away from schools and playgrounds? In Western Washington, hundreds of them continue to flip off every law in sight – and their neighbors to boot – while Durkan’s office shows little apparent interest beyond a few token busts.

On paper, Durkan – at the recent behest of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama – says she won’t tolerate the trafficking of marijuana under the guise of “medicine.” Other U.S. attorneys are walking this talk seriously; they’ve been moving against hundreds of dispensaries in Eastern Washington, California and other states.
Read more »


Isaac could play havoc with GOP convention

Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, shows some of the possible trajectories tropical storm Isaac could develop in coming days. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

When I heard that the Republicans were planning to hold their 2012 national convention in Tampa – in August – my first reaction was that whoever made that decision was crazy.

Having lived for two years across the bay in St. Petersburg and gone to college in Florida, I know that the Sunshine State is a miserably hot and humid place to be in August. Plus there’s this potential party pooper called Hurricane Season – which is posing a threat to the GOP convention that officially gets under way Monday. Read more »


‘We Can’t Wait’ for rail bypass? Job 1 is to make it safe

Red line shows new inland route for Amtrak trains if the Point Defiance Bypass is completed. Freight trains will continue along the shoreline. (USGS)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Maybe the Obama administration can’t wait to get started on the Point Defiance Bypass rail project. But South Sound communities that would feel the brunt of increased train traffic aren’t in a big hurry.

Under the president’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the administration is freeing up $473 million in unspent appropriations to expedite four construction projects – one of them being the $90 million bypass. Getting that federal money for the project is expected to move its timeline up about six months, with the state Department of Transportation hoping to begin construction in 2015.

The bypass – which would separate freight and passenger trains as they move through the South Sound – has long been on the wish list for Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Amtrak. It would allow freight trains to continue traveling along the scenic waterfront while rerouting high-speed Amtrak passenger trains inland – through not-so-scenic business districts in South Tacoma and Lakewood and on through DuPont. Read more »