Inside Opinion

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

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Category: Who’s visiting


Straight talk from T.C. Broadnax

Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax doesn’t hang around much at our offices, but he came in today with a small retinue and the first installment of the take-no-prisoners budget he’s going to propose to the City Council.

He says he’s got to carve $63 million out of the $445 million it would take to keep the city on its present course of spending and services. That translates into a loss of 217 city positions, he said.

Our entire editorial board – all five of us – were in on the briefing. We all came away with pretty much the same

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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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The governor: ‘I have a demoralized work force’

Gov. Chris Gregoire visited with the editorial board today. She wanted to talk about her proposed budget that addresses a $4.6 billion shortfall. In addition to consolidating several state agencies, it makes drastic cuts in education, low-income health care, social services, public safety and state workers’ compensation. In Pierce County, she would shutter the McNeil Island prison and the Washington History Museum. Funding for state parks, the arts commission – gone.

“It’s not a budget I’m proud of. But it’s what the times call for,” she said, noting that it eliminates 80 programs and agencies. She expects legislators will come

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Prescription drug abuse McKenna’s next big push

Attorney General Rob McKenna visited yesterday to plug his latest cause, preventing prescription drug abuse and overdoses. He cited some pretty interesting statistics:

&bull Prescription drug overdoses are killing far more people in Washington state than heroin, cocaine and meth combined.

&bull Methadone is the biggest culprit, followed by Oxycodone and Hydrocodone (the opiate in Vicodin).

&bull In 2005-06, Washington ranked 6th in the nation for the percentage of people 12 and older who misused prescription pain relievers.

&bull The state’s medical director says that the increased daily doses being prescribed by doctors are not

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Judge Morgan in the lion’s den

Give him credit: Judge Michael Morgan of Federal Way stopped by here for an endorsement interview Wednesday despite a year and a half of receiving less-than-flattering coverage in The News Tribune (and criticism from this page).

Facing five challengers in the Aug. 18 primary, Morgan offered a vigorous defense of his first term in the city’s municipal court.

He created some of his own troubles with intemperate dealings with court staff and other city employees. He was reprimanded on one occasion by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, and he wound up in a long-running battle with this newspapers over a report on his court he didn’t want released. But – as he pointed out – no one’s been questioning his performance in the courtroom.

Being under fire for so long, he said, resulted in "the worst year and a half of my life."

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Foss maritime museum looking for cash from Tacoma

The editorial board took a field trip to the Foss Waterway Seaport today. If you haven’t been, the maritime museum is impressive. The vast timbered interior is unlike any warehouse I’ve seen. It’s the last remnant of what boosters call the birthplace of the Port of Tacoma, a mile-long string of warehouses built by the Northern Pacific Railroad to store Washington wheat.

The Dock Street building survived only through what executive director Tom Cashman calls “accidental bureaucratic wisdom.” Thirty years ago, Tacoma police needed a place to store impounded vehicles. The city

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Mark Emmert in fighting form

UW President Mark Emmert was in today, and I’ve never seen him so close to anger.

He’s royally upset by the budgets proposed this week by the state Senate and House of Representatives. They would devastate higher education in Washington, reducing enrollments by at least 10,000 seats.

Emmert wasn’t demanding a bigger share of the state budget; he did push for the authority to raise tuition by 14 percent. For middle-income families, this would be more than offset by expanded federal financial aid now in the pipeline. Low income families are already effectively exempt from tuition under the Husky Promise program.

Some highlights of the visit:

&bull “More students want to go to college than at any time in our history.”

&bull Washington is more dependent on engineers, scientists and other tech specialists than any other state, “and we’re the state that has beat the hell out of higher education.”

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I Corps commander visits

It’s not every day that a three-star general comes to visit with the editorial board. Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., who commands both Fort Lewis and I Corps, dropped by Tuesday with the fort’s garrison commander, Col. Cindy Murphy. She handles the post’s day-to-day operations and is playing a major role in the upcoming merger of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base into Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Jacoby said he wanted to touch bases with the ed board before he leaves Sunday for I Corps’ one-year deployment to Iraq, where it will be managing U.S. combat operations. The fort has been in the news recently – and not in a good way – and he wanted the chance to talk about it.

He said the South Sound community should know that fort officials take very seriously the drug overdose death last month of 16-year-old Leah King in a barracks.

“It hit us all very hard,” said Jacoby. “Tens of thousands of soldiers serve honorably, and the community can trust them. A small minority dishonors themselves and their comrades.

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