Inside Opinion

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

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Category: Editorial outtakes


Save Eatonville’s Roxy Theater

In today’s editorial, I mention a “crowd-funding” campaign to save Eatonville’s Roxy Theater. The owner is trying to raise $20,000 toward the $70,000 cost of converting to digital projection.

So far the online campaign hasn’t gotten much steam. As of Friday, only $1,040 had been raised. The deadline is Jan. 14.

If you’re interested, here’s the site. Eatonville’s Dispatch has an article on the status of the overall campaign; to read it, click here.


Wine industry taking root in the South Sound

Today’s editorial looks at the Washington wine industry and its phenomenal growth in the last few years. Most of the growth, of course, has happened in Eastern Washington, where the grapes are primarily grown, and in the Woodinville area, home to many wineries that cropped up around Chateau Ste. Michelle.

But Pierce County has a fair number of wineries, most of which import their grapes from east of the mountains (as do the Woodinville wineries). The Washington Wine Commission map shows them. Click on the pins, which brings up a window to “view profile.” That gives the name,

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‘Well-intended’? Maybe not.

It’s been brought to my attention that the “well-intended” attempt by Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) to adjust fines for public-records violations may not have been intentional at all. Miloscia is shown below saying he never meant to boost the maximum fine from $100 a day to $500 a day. He moved an amendment to correct the “inadvertent mistake” before the bill ever made it out of committee.

What’s left is nothing to cheer, unless you are a public agency.

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City of Tacoma runs numbers on new union contracts

A while back, I vented some frustrations about trying to get salary data from the City of Tacoma. I had asked city staff for the average salary increase given city workers in 2010 and was told that it varied by union because of an ongoing effort to rejigger pay scales to more appropriately reflect job duties and market pay.

City officials couldn’t tell me at the time what the average pay raise per bargaining unit was, nor what net impact the contracts had had on the city budget, but they promised to get back to me. Today, spokesman Rob McNair-Huff emailed me that information. Here’s what we now know, with more to come:

• City employees who belong to the five unions that settled contracts with 2010 effective dates received average increases ranging from 4 percent (wastewater technicians, operators and electricians) to nearly 11 percent (supervisors in customer service, fire electrical and traffic operations).

• The cost of paying those raises was nearly $2.9 million in 2010. About $1.6 million of that is paid from general tax revenue; the remainder comes from Tacoma Public Utilities receipts.

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What does it take to get a bad teacher out of the classroom?

Back when Michael Moulton was in the news, I requested the Morton teacher’s disciplinary file from the state’s Office of Professional Practices. The state sent me the records today.

They’re doozies. You could say that Moulton has a problem with boundaries: He is apparently incapable of keeping his hands off students or consistently exercising sound judgment. The district and state have long known this about Moulton, yet have done little until recently to shield students.

Washington issued Moulton a teaching certificate in 1992 and according to state records, it didn’t take long for students to start complaining about him. In 1997, Moulton received a written reprimand for, among other things, asking students to rub or scratch his back and getting students to “sing songs with students’ names in a derogatory manner.”

Moulton received another warning in 1999 from the Morton superintendent for calling two female high students inappropriate nicknames, saying he loved them and touching them on the back, shoulders, arm and waist.

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The county councilman’s newsletter that looks like a newsletter

Best I can tell, Dick Muri is the only other Pierce County Council member besides Shawn Bunney who has put out a newsletter this year. What a coincidence: Muri, too, is running for higher office.

But Muri’s not incurred the scrutiny of the Public Disclosure Commission like Bunney has. The probable reason (other than he’s not the guy running against Cathy Dahlquist)? His newsletter looks like a newsletter – “good, honest, government boring,” as Councilman Tim Farrell would say.

I emailed Muri, whose issued his newsletter before the June candidate filing week, to ask

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The Nalley Valley briefing DOT never gave

No one was more surprised than the members of The News Tribune’s editorial board to read Saturday of a $890,000 mistake on the Nalley Valley viaduct project.

The reason: Not four weeks ago, Department of Transportation chief Paula Hammond and Olympic region administrator Kevin Dayton had met with the ed board to talk about progress on the project, among other things. No mention was made of such a costly and significant error.

Monday morning, I emailed DOT officials to say we didn’t feel like they had been straight with us. Hammond called us to explain. “I profusely apologize,”

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Downsizing state budget easier said than done

Our Sunday editorial about the governor’s plan to downsize state government made a vague reference to the “cacophony” she’s bound to stir. Actually, the hue and cry was already mounting well before she unveiled her plan last week.

The state is now fighting 50 lawsuits, grievances and unfair labor practice complaints from employees and their unions, according to Gov. Gregoire’s budget director, Marty Brown. Many of the claims arise from steps lawmakers have taken to balance the state budget, including layoffs and changes to employee health care plans.

Just last week, the Washington Federation of State Employees

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