Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Brian Sonntag


Union offers Inslee a test of independence he must pass

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

One concern that many – including this newspaper’s editorial board  – have about Jay Inslee is that the state’s next governor might be too cozy with the public employee unions.

Now the union representing Washington State Patrol troopers and sergeants – which endorsed Rob McKenna for governor – has conveniently proposed an early test of how independent Inslee might be. The union has called on him to dump WSP Chief John Batiste and replace him with its hand-picked choice, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar.

Apparently Batiste – who served in the patrol

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Brian Sonntag leaves big shoes to fill as state auditor

Brian Sonntag

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag is a big guy, but that’s not the only reason his successor has his work cut out for him if he hopes to fill his shoes.

A Democrat from Pierce County, Sonntag has been at least as popular among Republicans because of the nonpartisan way he’s run his office the last 20 years and his laser-like focus on government accountability.
Elected to statewide office in 1992 after serving as Pierce County’s auditor, he easily won re-election four times. His departure next week – to become chief financial officer at the Tacoma Rescue Mission – is being met widely with regret, a testament to his evenhandedness in the job.

If anyone’s not sorry to see him go, it’s those state and local officials who have been stung by his office’s audits or who take issue with how much more accountable and accessible he feels they should be to the public.
He has chided state lawmakers, for instance, for not being as open in their proceedings as local officials are required to be, for not giving the public enough time to comment on legislation and for introducing title-only bills – blank legislation whose details can be filled in later. These are all areas that his successor, Troy Kelley, should continue to press. Read more »


Dunn for attorney general, Watkins for auditor

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

With state Attorney General Rob McKenna running for governor and state Auditor Brian Sonntag retiring, voters have to fill their big shoes Nov. 6.

The attorney general contest presents a particularly tough choice. Democrat Bob Ferguson of Seattle and Republican Reagan Dunn of Maple Valley are about as evenly matched as two candidates could be. Both are moderate, personable attorneys who serve on the King County Council – Ferguson since 2003, Dunn since 2005.

They’re not far apart on most of the important issues, and both have shown independent streaks with their

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South Sounders share Federal Way’s transit frustration

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Some Federal Way-area officials are so unhappy with Sound Transit that they’re contemplating secession from the tri-county transportation agency. There’s no mechanism for such a move, but that’s not stopping them from talking about it.

Their pain is our pain – to a point.

Sound Transit has determined that sales tax revenues from the South King County sub-area have fallen so steeply that the agency must delay extension of light rail to Federal Way from 2023 to 2034 or later. That delay means that the next light rail leg – to Tacoma – will be delayed as well. Originally projected to be completed by 2029, it’s now looking like sometime in the 2040s.
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Failure of Washam recall effort means it’s up to voters now


This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It sure wasn’t for lack of trying.

Robin Farris’ signature-gathering campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam came up achingly short. She just missed clearing a very high bar of collecting the 65,495 signatures needed to put a recall measure on the November ballot. Percentagewise, she needed to collect more than twice the signatures required to get a statewide initiative on the ballot.

That Farris’ campaign was unsuccessful is a disappointment to The News Tribune editorial board. Like many, we’ve been dismayed by Washam’s erratic, unethical behavior since taking office in January 2009. He has retaliated against whistle-blowers, misused his office’s resources to further personal vendettas and created a hostile workplace.

Washam’s behavior has been costly. Pierce County faces $4.3 million in claims for damages filed by current and former employees of Washam’s office. He faces a hearing before the county ethics commission on a citizen’s complaint that he violated the county ethics code on 15 occasions. Read more »


Next county assessor-treasurer? How about Brian Sonntag?

On Monday, state Auditor Brian Sonntag announced he won’t run for re-election.

On Tuesday, we learned that the campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam had fallen just short of the needed petition signatures.

Just a coincidence? Well, yes. But I couldn’t help wondering if one of Pierce County’s most successful politicians might be giving any thought to running for assessor-treasurer next year.

“To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it; I assumed the recall effort would be successful,” Sonntag said today. But, he noted, “Pierce County is still where my heart is. . . . I’d be interested

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State auditor to L&I: Workers’ comp not on “verge of collapse”

State Auditor Brian Sonntag has written to the state Department of Labor & Industries in response to concerns that the auditor’s recent review of the workers’ compensation funds had been misinterpreted. We editorialized about the audit last month, expressing concern about the findings.

From Sonntag’s letter to Judy Schurke, L&I director (who also responded to our editorial with an op-ed):

I want to assure you that, in our opinion, the funds currently are financially strong. The Workers’ Compensation System is able to pay claims and should be able to do so for many years. However, our

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