Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: March 2013


Driver’s hands belong on the wheel, not texting

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

When it comes to distracted driving, texting-obsessed teens are the problem, right?

That’s only partially correct. It turns out, they’re just modeling their elders’ behavior. Almost half of adults say they text and drive, even though they’re well aware that it’s considered dangerous. A slightly lower percentage of teens, 43 percent, admit to driving while texting.

But that actually may be a bigger problem because teens aren’t as experienced behind the wheel as older drivers; the under-20 age group has the highest proportion of distracted-driving fatal crashes, says the Centers for Disease Control. And while a slightly lower percentage of teens than adults might text, those who do tend to text a lot. Teens are more likely than adults to expect immediate responses – and to immediately respond to text messages they receive, even if they’re driving.

How dangerous is texting while driving? Read more »


State parks are showing their age as they mark centennial

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Washington’s state park system is a venerable one – fourth-oldest in the nation and four years older than the national parks.

And it’s showing its age. As it marks its centennial this month, the 117-park system is in trouble. Deep trouble.

Once the parks were open free to the public. Now visitors must either have a $30 Discover Pass or pay $10 for a daily pass. Park hours have been reduced, permanent staff has been cut almost 35 percent since 2009, 66 of 189 full-time rangers are now seasonal and maintenance has been deferred so much that many facilities are in pitiful condition. Educational programming is virtually a thing of the past. Read more »


Celebrate state parks Saturday – for free

We will editorialize Sunday on the dismal state of the state park system as it marks its centennial this month. Even so, there’s a lot to enjoy at the state’s 117 parks – and on Saturday you won’t need a $30 Discover Pass or have to pay the $10 day-use fee.

One of my favorites in the South Sound is Jarrell Cove State Park on Harstine Island in Mason County. It’s a marine park well-known to area boaters, but it’s also accessible by bridge (map). I think it’s a largely undiscovered gem.

The state park I most recently

Read more »


More must be done to stop repeat drunk drivers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Tragedy often has a predictable aftermath: first shock and grief, then anger.

We’re at the anger stage right now, grasping for how to react to the horrendous, senseless vehicular homicide that occurred Monday in a Seattle neighborhood.

A repeat drunken driver authorities say was again under the influence struck four family members out for an afternoon stroll. Two of them, retired schoolteachers Judy and Dennis Schulte, died at the scene. Their newborn grandson and daughter-in-law, a pediatric nurse, were critically injured.

The driver, Mark W. Mullan, has a long DUI history dating to the early 1990s. Read more »


Mixed-use projects are tools in fight against sprawl

Conceptual drawing shows proposed mixed-use project in Tacoma’s Proctor District. (Courtesy of Rick Moses Development)
Conceptual drawing shows proposed mixed-use project in Tacoma’s Proctor District. (Courtesy of Rick Moses Development)

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Not a big fan of urban sprawl? Then you should like mixed-use development – the kind of project being considered for Tacoma’s Proctor District.

“Project 28” is still at a very early stage and apparently not a done deal . But it already has folks in Proctor talking after a conceptual drawing of a six-story project appeared online. There’s concern that adding 135 apartments to the neighborhood would increase traffic, affect parking and displace existing businesses.

This project might never materialize, or it might go forward in some variation of the conceptual plan. Regardless, mixed-use development is part of the future; it’s what cities have to do more of if they’re to accommodate the growth we know is coming to the region. Read more »


Boe’s light rail option deserves a (quick) look

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council has complicated an already complex decision on light rail in Tacoma. That’s OK – as long as it doesn’t also derail the decision.

Some background:

The regional transit package Puget Sound voters approved in 2008 didn’t give Pierce County a rail connection to Sea-Tac Airport and beyond. But the county did get a consolation prize: a promise to expand Tacoma Link, the small electric rail line that already runs from the Tacoma Dome north through downtown Tacoma.

The Sound Transit board is now poised to make good on

Read more »


China should rein in North Korean lunacy

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

As the craziness emanating out of North Korea keeps ratcheting up, one almost longs for the good old days of the Cold War. At least then we knew our adversary and had a certain level of confidence that the Soviet Union had no interest in self-destruction – the inevitable result if it launched its ICBMs at us.

We can’t be so sure that’s the case with the hermit kingdom of Kim Jong Un, which in recent days has done some unusually bizarre things.

A month after North Korea’s third nuclear test, it said it would “exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack” on South Korea and the United States. Last week it posted a strange, militaristic video on its YouTube channel, titled Read more »


Dollars alone won’t ensure first-rate public schools

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Last year’s McCleary decision is not just about money.

As the Washington Supreme Court noted 14 months ago, the state constitution mandates that the Legislature “make ample provision for the education” of all the state’s children.

What does “education” mean? The court defined it – logically – as “the basic knowledge and skills needed to compete in today’s economy and meaningfully participate in this state’s democracy.”

It’s a question of quality as well as quantity.

You could spend fortunes feeding fast food to kids, and they’ll grow up malnourished. Likewise, the Legislature could dump another

$5 billion a year into the K-12 system without offering students the skills they need to survive in the 21st-century economy. More money is necessary, but not sufficient.

Lawmakers this year have been taking important steps toward improving the quality of public education in Washington.

One pair of bills would create a date certain – July 1, 2015 – for increasing state high school graduation requirements to 24 credits.

More important, the credits must mean something. The plan is to align graduation requirements with college admission requirements. Students shouldn’t just be given a piece of paper when they graduate; they need the intellectual tools to succeed in a four-year college, two-year college or technical-vocational program.

As things stand, many students – especially from low-income families – have only a foggy understanding of what college demands. They often wind up with a hodgepodge of credits that don’t add up to a marketable high school diploma.
Read more »