Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Seattle


What’s not to like about Seattle arena proposal?

An arena to host an NBA franchise has been proposed for the area at the bottom right of the photo, just south of the Safeco Field parking garage in Seattle’s Sodo district. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Dean Rutz)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Basketball fans have every right to be excited about a new proposal for bringing an NBA team back to Seattle, which lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

An arena site has been purchased. A rich Seattle native and other investors are willing to put up $290 million of their own money toward building an 18,000-seat facility, and they’re offering to pay for any cost overruns or revenue shortfalls. The remainder of the $500 million cost would be paid by team rent and taxes generated by the arena. The investment team would buy an NBA team and recruit an NHL team.

Taxpayers wouldn’t be asked to come up with a dime for any of it. And the NBA team would pay to play in KeyArena for the two years it would take to build the new facility just south of the Safeco Field parking garage.

What’s not to like?
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The Seattle lesson: Police abuses start at the top

This editorial will appear in the Thursday print edition.

Could Seattle’s police force be that brutal? The U.S. Justice Department last week reported that many of Seattle’s officers know way too much about bashing suspects and not nearly enough about de-escalating confrontations.

A couple of numbers sum up the indictment: Justice’s Civil Rights Division concluded that Seattle police engaged in excessive force 57 percent of the time they hammered someone with their batons. Overall, the investigators decided that 20 percent of all use of force by officers was unconstitutionally excessive.

Members of the SPD are angrily challenging those shocking findings. From this distance, it’s impossible to say whether the department has been unfairly tarred by armchair experts. But there’s no doubt that Seattle police have a flair for doing outrageous things in front of video cameras. Read more »


The real election season shifts into high gear

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The primary ballots haven’t all been tallied yet – thanks to the requirement that they only need to be postmarked by Election Day. But some things are already clear.

Just because it’s more convenient to vote now that the election is all-mail doesn’t mean people are suddenly voting in much higher numbers. As of Thursday afternoon, turnout was a lackluster 27 percent. In the last off-year election (2009), turnout was 19.2 percent.

Turnout this year wasn’t helped by the fact that voters in some communities might not have had much to get

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WSDOT’s secrecy undercuts its own tunnel plans

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The state Department of Transportation really does want to build a deep-bore tunnel to replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, right?

Why in the world, then, are transportation officials giving tunnel opponents campaign fodder by denying their request for public records?

Late last week, the group behind an Aug. 16 referendum on the tunnel went to court, supposedly to force the state to produce the latest version of the tunnel financing plan.

State officials had earlier denied the document request, invoking the “deliberative process” exemption to the public records law because the financing plan is currently being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration.
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Don’t let tunnel critics drive up costs with delays

The Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle's waterfront could collapse in a big quake. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

If dithering were an art form, Seattle would be Salvador Dali.

That city’s infighting over replacement of the 58-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct – a state highway – has taken on a surreal quality with attempts to kill the $2 billion deep bore tunnel proposal via an August ballot measure.

Tunnel critics are hoping to overturn the City Council’s 2009 decision to move forward with the project. But it’s unclear whether that vote would even be legal. The state has already signed contracts with a consortium to build the tunnel, which has the support of city business and labor leaders, a City Council majority, King County government, the Port of Seattle and state lawmakers. Current plans are to start excavating the tunnel’s entrance in late summer.

And if not a tunnel, what? Many tunnel critics prefer a new or repaired viaduct. Others – primarily transit advocates, environmentalists and Mayor Mike McGinn – want to tear down the viaduct and fund new and improved surface streets. Read more »


Tacoma: The latest enabler of a marijuana industry

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council – perhaps confusing Tacoma with Seattle – has taken the side of a fast-emerging marijuana industry that’s been shopping for compliant local governments.

The council has countermanded the city administration’s attempt to close down eight medical marijuana dispensaries (up from zero not too long ago) now operating in the city. The idea is to wait until the 2011 Legislature legalizes them. But it’s highly unlikely that next year’s more conservative House and Senate will do what heavily Democratic legislatures have already refused to do. What then – permanent toleration?

The council might want to listen more to the citizens complaining about these operations and less to the people with a vested interest – often a big financial interest – in seeing them proliferate. At the very least, it should show a little more interest in the rule of law.

Some members of the council appear to have bought claims that Initiative 692, which legalized medical marijuana, is vague or ambiguous about dispensaries. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist isn’t vague on the issue: “Nobody among the elected prosecutors I talk to reads the law to allow for dispensaries.”

Lindquist says they’re illegal. The state attorney general’s office says they’re illegal. The state Department of Health says they’re illegal. The Tacoma City Council knows something they don’t know?

The problem isn’t the dispensaries per se; it’s the remarkably lax “medical” system of which they are the nexus. I-692 directed state officials to specify medical disorders that cannabinoids might legitimately help treat. These now include AIDS, epilepsy, severe nausea, hepatitis C and some other clearly identifiable illnesses. They also include “intractable pain … unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications” – a very elastic term that invites exploitation from people who simply want a legal defense for smoking dope.

Guidelines on paper are nice, but there is virtually no enforcement of them in this state. Marijuana is the only controlled substance that Washington doctors can recommend with no oversight. No agency tracks their written recommendations of the drug.

The state Medical Quality Assurance Commission – which must wait for complaints before acting – regularly sanctions physicians for over-prescribing oxycontin, hydrocodone and other potentially dangerous drugs. In the 12 years I-692 has been on the books, the commission has never charged a doctor over medical marijuana. The complaints do come in; one has come from a school nurse who reported that a 14-year-old boy had been given a recommendation to use the drug.
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Seattle viaduct replacement: Is it politically impossible?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If Seattle isn’t serious about replacing the quake-damaged Alaskan Way viaduct, how serious should the rest of Washington be about it?

Next year will bring the 10th anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake and the 10th anniversary of the engineering report that the viaduct had to be rebuilt or replaced – lest it collapse in the next big shake.

Despite nearly a decade of facing what some would consider a dire threat, Seattleites seem poised for yet another Big Dither.

Mayor Mike McGinn is doing his utmost to unravel a hard-won agreement between the governor and the city leadership to reroute state Route 99 through a tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.

He makes an easy target with his ecotopian vision of a bottlenecked surface corridor whose engineered congestion would force commuters onto bicycles and buses. But a lot of other greenish Seattleites also think that’s a spectacular idea, and some are threatening a city initiative to stop the tunnel and start the arguments all over again.
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Nude beaches? In sub-arctic Seattle?

If you can believe an interactive website set up by Mayor Mike McGinn, the top priorities of Seattleites, in this order, are:

• More light rail.

• Legalizing pot.

• Opening nude beaches.

It’s a wholly unscientific, self-selected poll representing a small fraction of Seattle’s population. Which is a good thing, because I’d hate to think Seattleites in general were more concerned about restrictions on skinny-dipping and dope-smoking than about homelessness (Priority 25) or public safety (Priority 31). They can’t be that wacky … can they?

Tacoma doesn’t have a similar website. If it had one, some priorities

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