Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: State Senate

Dec.
10th

A healthy check on Democratic power in Olympia

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

By now – a day after they handed the state Senate to Republicans – Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon will have been excoriated as traitors, turncoats, back-stabbers and double-crossers by their fellow Democrats.

Conniving rascals they may be, but they’ve done the state of Washington a big favor.

Until Monday, 2013 was shaping up as another dreary stretch of same-old, same-old Democratic hegemony over House, Senate and governorship. The party’s leadership has grown a little too comfortable, a little too arrogant, a little too generous to public unions and other favored interest groups.

It does real damage to the state. For example, it’s the chief reason Washington has suffered from one of the nation’s most benighted approaches to public education.

Any reforms that promised to make schools more accountable faced dual execution squads in the Legislature, where the education committees of the House and Senate faithfully did the bidding of the Washington Education Association and other enforcers of the status quo.

The coup’s sweetest result: The Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee falls into the hands of Republicans.
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April
10th

The smelly restoration of Pam Roach

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

While we’re talking about the state Senate, let’s note some real hypocrisy in that chamber: the matter of Sen. Pam Roach.

Roach had been expelled from the GOP Caucus in 2010 for years of screaming at, intimidating and otherwise abusing staff members. Her luck turned six weeks ago, when Republican senators moved to wrest the budget-writing process out of Democratic hands.

As part of their maneuvering, they welcomed Roach back. She took that to mean she’d have access to the staff again.

One of her past targets, attorney Mike Hoover, took it

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April
10th

What do Zarelli’s veteran’s benefits have to do with it?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

State Sen. Joe Zarelli has been taking some cheap shots over the past few days over what should be a non-issue: the benefits he receives as a partially disabled Navy veteran.
Here’s the line of attack, broken down into its weird logic:

• Zarelli is the ranking Republican on the Senate’s budget committee. Because the Senate’s budget process has fallen under the control of its Republican minority and three fiscally conservative Democrats, Zarelli has become the chamber’s chief budget writer.

• Zarelli favors eliminating two programs for Washingtonians whose impairments – mental and physical, sometimes complicated by addiction – make it difficult or impossible for them to hold down jobs. This would save $100 million – part of his plan to balance the state budget and make it sustainable in years to come.

• Zarelli is on disability but wants to kick others off disability.

• Ergo, Zarelli is a hypocrite.

As an argument, this line of attack doesn’t make it very far.

The two kinds of disabilities involved aren’t merely apples and oranges; they’re apples and zebras.

By its nature, service in the military involves physical risks. Zarelli took those risks when he joined the Navy and came out with a back injury. His case was presumably reviewed closely; he was judged 40 percent disabled and is receiving the corresponding monthly disability payment.

This is an on-the-job injury; he earned his compensation through his military service. The programs he is targeting for the most part bestow unearned benefits; they are a form of public assistance. We say that despite supporting those programs ourselves; we think the $100 million is well spent keeping unemployable people out of the jails and emergency rooms.
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Aug.
11th

Sumner councilman’s e-mails show poor judgment

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Matt Richardson was apparently aware that messages written on the City of Sumner’s e-mail system are public records – aware enough that the city councilman devised a code for communicating certain information.

“… conversations about business are good here,” he wrote in 2008 to a city volunteer. “Personal things like meeting me at the Seattle Westin room 1708 on May 10 at 3, could be broken down to SWR1708-5/10-3.”

Richardson wasn’t as clever as he’d hoped: He detailed his plan to evade public disclosure in a public document.

The Sumner councilman’s bumbling, brazen attempt at obfuscation is now among the e-mail messages being reviewed by the state auditor’s office for possible ethical violations. Sumner’s code of ethics bans the use of city property for “personal convenience or profit.”

The e-mails were brought to the auditor’s attention by Chris Clifford, a supporter of state Sen. Pam Roach, whose re-election Richardson is challenging.

Clifford alleges the emails detail an extramarital dalliance between Richardson and the city volunteer.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Richardson claims the two are just friends and liked to joke about their “affair.” The only two people who probably know the truth are Richardson and the woman.

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