Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Lakewood

Jan.
14th

Lakewood’s losses are Pierce County’s gains

Doug Richardson
Doug Richardson

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The 12 candidates who have applied to fill a vacancy on the Lakewood City Council are an impressive lot. Most have had either previous elective office experience or have served in some other civic capacity, such as on a citizens advisory committee.

It will be a tough choice for the council, which plans to make the appointment Feb. 4. That person will have the very tall order of replacing Doug Richardson, the longest-serving council member and one of the most respected leaders in Lakewood, Pierce County’s second-largest city.

Richardson – who was mayor in 2004-2005 and again from 2008 to the present – is the last of the original council members who led Lakewood since shortly before it was incorporated in February 1996. During those 17 years, the city formed its own police department, began improvements to the blighted Tillicum area and provided good levels of service while keeping tax rates relatively low.
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Dec.
13th

‘Meth mouth': Not a pretty sight

Today’s editorial on meth addiction was a natural for me to write because of an experience I had about four years ago.

I had just come out of a store in a Lakewood strip mall and had opened my car door to get in, when I heard someone behind me saying something. I turned around and almost gasped out loud.

Standing there was a woman – I can’t even estimate her age – with straggly hair, a face covered with sores and the worst teeth I’ve ever seen. She asked if I could spare some money.

I think I

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Dec.
8th

Lakewood is no place for sex predators

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Folks in Olympia may be soon looking for a new community to host 300 violent sexual psychopaths. Lakewood, call your home security service.

Those predators are now housed and supposedly getting treated at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. They are the worst of the worst – a small fraction of the state’s sex offenders.

They wind up at the SCC only if a court has concluded that they have committed a violent sex crime and suffer from “a mental abnormality” that hinders their control of sexual violence and are “more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of violence again.”

There’s a reason they confined to an island surrounded by deep, frigid water.

The Legislature now faces intense financial pressure to move them to the mainland. The SCC began to look like an extravagance last year, when the state shut down the regular prison on McNeil Island. The prison had shared some of the Special Commitment Center’s costs, an arrangement that originally made a good argument for the location.

Now the SCC is sitting out there by itself with an annual budget of more than $30 million a year. A large chunk of that, $6.6 million, results from the island location. The center also needs repairs and improvements – an estimated $12.2 million worth of work in the 2013-2015 biennium.

Most lawmakers would dearly love to divert that money to their pet projects.
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Oct.
18th

Our endorsements in Pierce County Council races

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

At least three faces on the Pierce County Council will change after the Nov. 6 election, but the political makeup of the council is likely to remain roughly the same with Republicans outnumbering Democrats. The only question is whether the GOP majority is 5 to 2 or 4 to 3.

• The District 2 race won’t affect that equation; it’s between two Republicans – incumbent Joyce McDonald, a former state representative from Puyallup, and Jeffery Hogan, the mayor of Edgewood. The district also includes Sumner, Milton and Northeast Tacoma.

Hogan’s main issue with McDonald has been her strong support for creating a flood control district that could levy a small countywide tax aimed at preventing and mitigating flood damage. Given the vulnerability of so much of the district to a catastrophic flood, her position makes sense.

Hogan could be a viable candidate for this position in four years, when McDonald term-limits out. But for now, district voters should stick with the incumbent (they gave her 68 percent of the vote in the primary). She works hard for their concerns and deserves a second term.

Here are our endorsements in the other council races – all open seats:

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Oct.
8th

South Sound commuters finally get what they’re paying for

A Sounder train pulls into the Lakewood station during a test run. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

If all went as it was supposed to as of this writing, the first commuters to catch the Sounder train in Lakewood and South Tacoma in the wee hours this morning are already at work up north.

This is a day that Pierce County has long awaited – and paid for. The region’s citizens voted back in the mid-1990s to tax themselves to extend Sound Transit rail service extending to Lakewood. Now, 11 years after that service was originally supposed to begin, it finally has. The 8.5-mile, $325 million extension from Tacoma’s Dome District was scheduled to begin operating with a 4:42 train this morning.

If the recent testing period is any indication, there will be bumps along the way. Drivers will have to get used to trains briefly shutting down 17 at-grade street crossings between the Lakewood Sounder Station and the Dome District in downtown Tacoma. And pedestrians will have to restrain themselves from trying to beat the trains by scurrying across the tracks. That does not always end well.

Inconvenience is a price drivers should be willing to pay. Someday they, too, might want the option of taking the train instead of battling freeway traffic. And offering one more way to commute helps lighten that traffic and moves people in a more environmentally friendly way. Read more »

July
17th

Our endorsements in two 28th District legislative races

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Republicans have been trying to reclaim House seats in the 28th Legislative District since 2004, with no success. They think that redistricting – and an open seat – might help them do it this time around.

The 28th – which stretches from West Tacoma through University Place and Lakewood to DuPont – was redistricted to pick up some of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding communities. That could make the district slightly more Republican-leaning.

Troy Kelley, the three-term Democratic incumbent in House Position 1, is vacating the seat to run for state auditor. Two Republicans are hoping to replace him – attorney Steve O’Ban of Tacoma and real estate agent Ken Campbell of University Place. They’re running in the Aug. 7 primary against Democrat Eric Choiniere, a customer service representative and member of the University Place City Council.

Since the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 6 general election, Choiniere – as the sole Democrat – is virtually assured of making it through. Campbell is a solid candidate, but we think O’Ban would be the stronger opponent against Choiniere.
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June
12th

Many courts need a refresher on open records rights

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
Location seems to be a key factor in determining whether citizens can successfully obtain public records they’re entitled to by state law.

At least that what News Tribune reporter Sean  Robinson discovered when he requested public documents regarding cases adjudicated in 22 district and municipal courts in the South Sound.
The cases were routine ones that Robinson knew should be made available under state open records law – for free. He asked for the documents as a private citizen to see how the courts’ staffs would respond.

Those responses were all over the map. Hats off to the ones that provided the requested documents in timely fashion: Pierce County District Court and municipal courts in Tacoma, Puyallup, Federal Way, Olympia, Gig Harbor, Buckley and Fife.
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April
23rd

Mental illness & violence: Look behind the anecdotes

Mental illnesses can be scary – think of the screaming meltdown an American Airlines flight suffered last month. The bizarre behavior of some people with severe psychiatric disorders has amplified public perceptions that they are dangerous.

This narrative got another boost Friday when a one psychiatric patient at Western State Hospital killed another, reportedly by jamming a pen or pencil into his ear. In response, the Department of Social and Health Services released the following fact sheet:

Fact 1: The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.

Here is what researchers say about the link between mental illness and violence:

– “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, and further, the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population (Institute of Medicine, 2006).”

– “…the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).”

– “The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is very small. . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill (Mulvey, 1994).”

-“People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). People with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al.,1999).”

Fact 2: The public is misinformed about the link between mental illness and violence.
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