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: Russell Investments


State Farm expansion would be a big deal for Tacoma

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

‘Like a good neighbor”? For downtown Tacoma, State Farm might be “like the best neighbor ever.”

Still stinging from the loss of Russell Investments, which had 1,100 employees at its peak about a decade ago, Tacoma now stands to gain about 2,000 jobs if State Farm expands on its existing presence in DuPont.

According to The News Tribune’s Kathleen Cooper, the insurance giant is finalizing plans to take over Read more »


Memo to Seattle: Cooperation runs both ways

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Ah, yes, cooperation. A favorite theme of Seattle leaders when it comes to the Port of Tacoma.

The port is suddenly poised for a massive expansion. On Thursday, the “Grand Alliance” – a consortium of three big shipping lines – announced plans to shift their cargoes to Washington United Terminals on the west side of the Blair Waterway.

NYK Lines, OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd may wind up moving as much as 400,000 cargo containers through Blair, a surge that will again make Tacoma the state’s leading seaport and bring Pierce County a slew of high-paying jobs.

Unfortunately, Tacoma’s gain is Seattle’s loss. The Grand Alliance now operates out of Terminal 18 at the Port of Seattle. Ships, cargo and jobs will simply be moving down the Sound a few miles.

The news has been greeted up north with barely controlled apoplexy. The Port of Seattle issued a statement pointing to its $1 billion investment in seaport infrastructure – which could wind up under-utilized – and the loss of livelihoods on its waterfront.

“We continue to call for a dialogue about how the two ports can cooperate in order to maximize return on taxpayer investment,” the statement continued.
Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton described it as the latest round of a “race to the bottom” that is keeping his port from raising its rates and threatening the maintenance of its terminals.

In reality, it’s not a race to the bottom so much as a response to opportunity. Tacoma’s port has immense capacity inside the Blair. Washington Waterways Terminal, for example, sits on 102 acres; it offers six immense cranes and an on-dock rail yard for direct transfer of containers from ship to freight train.

Ideally, the port would be snagging shipping lines from, say, British Columbia. But these businesses own calculators, and they grab value where they find it. It’s a competitive world, even within the Puget Sound region.

Ask the Tacomans who are still feeling the aftershocks of Russell Investments’ move to Seattle two years ago.
Read more »


Russell Investments’ not-so-green commute to Seattle

This from a disappointed member of the keep-Russell-in-Tacoma team. He asked to remain nameless, but his numbers look credible:

See below for ‘irony of the month.’ Russell signs enviro protocol while it decides to throw 700-900 employees into single occupancy vehicles onto I-5 every morning, more than tripling most of their employees’ daily commutes. Can’t have it both ways.

Our analysis, which we shared with Russell, shows that in the aggregate Russell employees will spend an additional 373,880 hours per year in their cars (if the company left Tacoma). This is 474 more hours per commuter per year. Based on IRS mileage reimbursement rates, Russell employees would see an additional cost of commuting of $4.5 million per year. We used actual Russell employee zip codes so this takes into account the few people whose commutes will be shorter.

In terms of miles traveled, the Seattle commute will result in 8,225,360 additional miles traveled annually by employees.
Read more »


A post-Russell call to arms for the needy

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The announcement that Russell Investments is departing Tacoma next year has a lot of people wondering what to do in its wake.

Here’s one prescription for guaranteed results: Give to Sound Sound nonprofits.

Perhaps nowhere will Russell’s absence be felt more acutely than among the social service agencies that relied on the generosity of Russell’s head office and employees.

Read more »


Tuesday’s editorials: Life after Russell, reforming Tacoma schools

The team of civic and business leaders that worked so hard to keep Russell in Tacoma looks eminently capable of turning last week’s big loss into opportunity.

The bad news about the Tacoma School District is, by now, old news. It has lower than average student test scores, a higher than average high school dropout rate and a lower than average college enrollment rate. A new report offers brutal assessments why.

If you have comments or questions about these topics, please email them to Editorials represent the consensus view of The News Tribune’s editorial board.

Want to sit

Read more »


The Seattle Times’ take: Russell was too good for Tacoma

In an editorial entitled, “Welcome, Russell Investments,” The Seattle Times today succeeded in both insulting Tacoma and embarrassing itself.

Although it offered “condolences” to Tacoma for losing its leading private employer, it asserted that “Tacoma never was the logical place” for Russell. Really? Even though Russell’s immense international expansion, which made it “a company that might well be in New York City” was all orchestrated out of lowly Tacoma?

And the Blethen family that owns the Times actually managed to turn its editorial into a self-parodying plug for its favorite cause, opposition to “the death tax” that

Read more »


Russell courtship was a stab in the back

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In opting for a future in Seattle, the Russell Investment Group made a sober business decision based on its perceived interests. We get that.

But there’s something we don’t get: The way some of Seattle’s civic and political leaders leaped at the chance to grab a neighboring city’s largest downtown private employer.
Russell was probably Seattle-bound one way or another.

Frank Russell started the company in Tacoma 73 years ago, and its history in this area has been long and distinguished. Russell employees – roughly three-quarters of whom live in Pierce County – have been notable assets to their communities. They’ve provided extraordinary volunteer service and other contributions to charitable causes and nonprofit organizations.

We will long remember then-CEO Craig Ueland’s donation of $250,000 to the 2006 United Way campaign – which was matched by Russell itself, then by George and Dion Russell.
Although the company’s payroll has been a pillar of the Tacoma economy, its strong ethic of corporate citizenship and philanthropy may be missed even more when it leaves at the end of next year.

But the Russell Investment Group’s ties to Tacoma have slowly weakened since George Russell sold the company to Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual in 1998. Ueland is gone, and Russell’s board of directors is now Milwaukee-dominated. Read more »