Inside Opinion

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

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Category: What’s coming


Announcing: Our new lineup of reader columnists

This column will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

I say it maybe two or three times a day to would-be commentators who want a place on our op-ed pages.

We don’t need more pieces on the big issues of the day, I tell them. We’re deluged with national stuff – 20, 30 times more of it than we have space to run on any given day.

Instead of their wisdom on guns, gay marriage, abortion, Afghanistan, etc., what I’d really like are observations of something closer to home.

Something that helps us better understand our communities, our neighborhoods and perhaps ourselves. Something unique, told in a unique voice.

That’s why, every year about this time, we pick a very select group of reader columnists. Their columns – which run on Mondays – offer points of view found nowhere else.

We’ve just chosen our columnists for 2013: Melissa Frink, Susan Gordon, Aidan O’Neill, Scott Candoo and Nancy Magnusson. Before the new crew comes on board, though, let me pay fitting tribute to the departing talent.

From rural Pierce County, Karen Frost gave us meditations from the forest’s edge. Frost possesses a gift for finding a galaxy in a speck of dust.

She turned a quiet New Year’s Eve with her husband, for example, into an exploration of “gossamer, intangible” time and the passage of rich years.
Glenda Cooper, a businesswoman and accomplished writer, is a born raconteur. She spots the telling moment – as when, at a wedding, a cellphone went off in the pocket of the groom as he was exchanging vows. “Dude, seriously?” said the bride.

Catherine Forte is preternaturally nimble with sentences; she does funny and serious with equal panache. I laughed out loud at her account of her daredevil little sister spitting on a grave at dusk in a cemetery “all the kids” knew was haunted.

Maria Gudaitis brought an exquisite poetic gift, laced with humor, to her columns. “August is the cruelest month,” she wrote last summer. “It scorches lettuce and rains on camping tents. Tomatoes struggle to ripen. I struggle with the new bathing suit that doesn’t quite fit.”

Joe Joyce – a Bellarmine student – brought a wry eye to the incongruities of teenage life. He aspired to be an Olympic athlete, he wrote last April: “My genes had a different idea, and I was cursed with what is known as the ‘C-team body.’”

One of our original lineup, Pat Rigley, wound up moving back to California; we invited Ken Miller – a guy who thinks a lot about Tacoma – to replace him. Miller riled up readers with acid commentary on school construction and the local municipal unions.

Do not leave this channel. We also expect great things of our incoming columnists.

• Melissa Frink of North Tacoma originally comes from “a dead zone of sorts, a fuzzy area that is not quite Tacoma, not quite Spanaway.” She’ll debut Monday with an account of saving sea suns (those startling, many-pronged starfish) on the Ruston Way waterfront.
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Death of a president? Not so fast

It didn’t look good Thursday for former President George H.W. Bush. News reports had him in intensive care with his family gathering and not talking to the media.

As per usual practice when a notable person might be near death, news organizations had their prepared obituaries ready. (Macabre, I know.) McClatchy’s Washington bureau sent out a wire message that its obit was “ready to move when the 41st president dies.” We were monitoring the updates on the theory that if Bush died, we’d want to write an editorial to appear Sunday or Monday.

Being ready to go with coverage of

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A family’s portrait of the accused Key Peninsula shooter

We had two surprise visitors this morning: Jennifer and Reno Sorensen, mother and brother of the 20-year-old woman accused of shooting three people Saturday – apparently at random – at a store on the Key Peninsula.

Laura K. Sorensen stands charged with attempted murder. Jennifer and Reno wanted to tell the family’s side of the story – a harrowing account of living with a severely disturbed girl prone to delusions and violence.

They’d written that story and asked if we’d run it. We saw it as an opportunity to give readers a rare family perspective on a shocking incident of

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A new face on today’s page

A month ago, we ran a poignant last column from Pat Rigley, whose unexpected move back to California brought his gig as reader columnist to a premature end.

That was a disappointment. But I am delighted to announce that Ken Miller of Tacoma will take Rigley’s spot in the lineup of six rotating reader columnists whose work appears in our section on Mondays.

Miller, who was born in Brooklyn, is one of Tacoma’s great civic-minded citizens. He’s lived here since 1970 and has held leadership roles in the Tacoma Housing Authority, the American Leadership Forum, the YMCA, the Zoo Society

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Coming Sunday: 5 reasons why Obama will be re-elected

On the opinion page Sunday, scholar and author Aaron David Miller argues that Democrats shouldn’t be too worried about Barack Obama’s chances in November. If history holds true, the president will get a second term.

Also on Sunday:

• Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. looks back 20 years to the deadliest riots in America in the 20th century – those that set Los Angeles on fire after the verdict in the Rodney King case.

• Michael Endicott, a Buckley man who served as a Secret Service agent in the 1970s and ’80s, weighs in on the scandal surrounding the agency today.


2-year colleges truly do transform lives

Chi Choi

The editorial board met this week with the presidents of the local two-year colleges – Tacoma Community College, Pierce College (Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup), Bates Technical College and Clover Park Technical College. Their schools have already absorbed big budget hits, and they wanted to convey their concerns about what yet more cuts could mean for the students they serve.

They were preaching to the choir; we’re well aware of the impact these schools can have in turning around the lives of people who might otherwise languish in low-wage jobs – if they can find work at all.

The presidents told us about a project of the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges, “Transforming Lives,” recognizing 34 people who have benefited from their education at one of the state’s two-year institutions. Click here to read their compelling self-written profiles.

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Police union concessions welcome, but are they enough?

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Tacoma police union members did the right thing Monday. They voted – in “overwhelming” numbers, according to their president – to approve concessions they hope will preserve jobs in the face of an estimated $32 million budget shortfall.

The city’s firefighters should do the same when they vote Jan. 26 and 27 on budget savings their bargaining unit says it has identified.

Although neither union disclosed what concessions it is prepared to make, it’s probably safe to say they involve a combination of things, perhaps including compensation givebacks and lower pension contributions. Interim city manager Ray Arellano will decide whether to accept the concessions. Read more »


SCC’s time running out on McNeil Island?

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue, visited recently to talk about the most recent revenue forecast (a shortfall of $1.2 billion to $2 billion) and provide some background on what can and can’t be cut when the Legislature goes into special session in November.

As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Hunter is one of the Legislature’s main budget writers. So it’s worth mentioning that he said one revenue saver would be to move the Special Commitment Center for violent sex offenders off McNeil Island.

That’s been discussed before, but now seems all but inevitable with the closure of

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