Inside Opinion

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

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Pierce County Council

July
9th

Simpson’s our choice for Lakewood City Council

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The leadership in Lakewood must be doing something right. Of the four City Council seats up for election this November, only one – the sole open seat – is being contested.

Three first-term council members – Mike Brandstetter, Mary Moss and Jason Whalen – are unopposed. That’s a far cry from years past when Lakewood often saw fiercely fought campaigns against incumbents.

The open Position 5 seat was vacated by Doug Richardson when he was elected to the Pierce County Council. Former council member Helen McGovern-Pilant was appointed to fill the position,

Read more »

Nov.
12th

Appearance of fairness matters in picking judges

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The criminal justice system abounds in people, procedures and places: judges, courtrooms, attorneys, indictments, trials, appeals and jail cells.

But all of it stands on something insubstantial: trust. It’s not good enough that the system is fair. It must also be perceived as fair by the public.

That’s why the Pierce County Council should tread carefully as it revises its process for filling vacancies on the bench. It should not involve parties with vested interests in how cases turn out – including the Prosecutor’s Office.

There’s been a flurry of maneuvering, on and around the council, over the appointment of a replacement for Judge Jack Nevin of the District Court. (Nevin will soon move to the Superior Court.)

The council hasn’t made such an appointment since 2003, but the process it used nine years ago is theoretically still in place. The council then relied on a list of candidates supplied by a six-member panel.

That committee consisted of two members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, one representative of the Minority Bar Association, a representative of the state court administrator, plus the County Council’s lawyer and the District Court’s presiding judge.

They proposed a handful of candidates; the council chose from the list. Read more »

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:

Read more »

Oct.
26th

Orton Junction: A development deal done right

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Sumner’s plan to carve a major development – Orton Junction – out of adjacent agricultural land has been a moving target for months. Its supporters kept on refining it, and its preservationists kept on opposing it.

Last week, after the crucial intervention of the Cascade Land Conservancy, Orton Junction finally became a clear win for rural protection.

At first glance, that seems impossible. Despite the tinkering, Sumner will still be swallowing 182 acres of protected rural countryside – including 125 acres of prime farmland – on the city’s southern border.

Any paving-over of topsoil harks back to the bad old days when the Pierce County Council was the girl who couldn’t say no. Developers who came along whistling tunes about jobs, money and affordable housing could pretty much have their way with the countryside.

Orton Junction’s opponents have feared that the project would set a precedent for renewed rural depredation. But what it’s evolved into is a precedent for protection.
Read more »

Sep.
22nd

NBA at the Dome? Look at humbler options, too


The Lakes High School Lancers won a 3A Boys semi-final game in the Tacoma Dome March 4. A proposed study would explore whether the Dome could also host NBA action. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Let’s not throw cold water on a bold plan to bring pro basketball or hockey to Tacoma. But let’s also make sure any public money spent on the plan pays dividends to the public.

Some of Pierce County’s most distinguished business leaders – the likes of Economic Development Board CEO Bruce Kendall, Columbia Bank CEO Melanie Dressel and uber-investor Herb Simon – are pushing for a $100,000 study of the feasibility of bringing an NBA or NHL franchise to the Tacoma Dome.

The Tacoma City Council has tentatively decided to invest $50,000 in the study, and the Pierce County Council is facing the same decision. The research could be justified if it also covered less far-fetched scenarios for the Dome’s future.
Read more »

Aug.
21st

Pierce County and cities should seek consistent fireworks laws


"Safe-and-sane" fireworks were on sale at a Thurston County stand in 2010. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri recently summed up what’s wrong with the county’s lax fireworks law:

“It’s not Independence Week that I know of,” he said, referring to the fact that residents of the unincorporated county can legally set off “safe and sane” fireworks for 11 hours daily during the eight days between June 28 and July 5. Muri is part of a County Council committee exploring whether to reduce the hours and days fireworks can be set off or to ban them outright.

If shooting off fireworks truly is an expression of patriotic fervor, celebrating July Fourth’s role in the nation’s history, why allow it more than a week before Independence Day? Or the day after?

“We could maybe at least keep the carnage down to one day,” Muri sensibly suggests.

That would be more in keeping with neighboring counties. Fireworks are limited to July 4 in unincorporated King County and to July 3 and 4 in Thurston.
Read more »

Aug.
12th

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

Read more »

Aug.
9th

Council should set earlier deadline for mailers

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Everybody’s doing it. As grating as it might sound, that defense may be enough to put Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney’s recent mailing in the clear.

Bunney, running for state Legislature, is under fire for his latest council newsletter: a full-color mailer that bears at least a passing resemblance to the political spin jobs showing up in voters’ mail boxes on a daily basis.

The $13,000 mailer, which features a large photo of a woman stretching a dollar and was mailed weeks before the primary ballots, was produced by

Read more »