Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Tacoma City Council

Feb.
5th

What real medical marijuana would look like

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council has done itself proud. Its decision to tolerate illegal medical marijuana sales has borne fruit in a pot shop at one of the city’s iconic family and tourist attractions, Freighthouse Square.

Hello, San Francisco. This is what the future holds – especially in Tacoma, apparently – if cannabis advocates succeed in expanding and privileging the fast-and-loose industry that medical marijuana is rapidly becoming in Washington.

Some lawmakers are actually pushing a bill that would loosen already-lax prescribing rules, legalize commercial sales, sanction large-scale grow operations and give users extraordinary legal protections against child-custody complaints, workplace anti-drug policies and law enforcement.

That’s precisely where medical marijuana should not be taken in this state.

But the Legislature could do much to clean up the current mess and help legitimate patients – simply by treating medical marijuana as medicine.

Cannabis does help some patients whose conditions can’t be relieved by other treatments, and some ethical doctors will recommend it in those narrow cases. But if it’s medicine, its purveyors shouldn’t be allowed to operate outside the rules that control the abuse and misuse of other potent drugs.

For example, the fly-by-night clinics that mass-produce marijuana authorization documents for patients – often on flimsy medical pretexts – are not required to maintain detailed medical records. That makes auditing and enforcement extremely difficult. The laxity taints the credibility of every authorization in the state.
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May
24th

Mike Lonergan to council: Don’t rush to judgment about Arizona

Mike Lonergan may have left the Tacoma City Council, but he’s still got a lot to say about city affairs. Here’s some advice he emailed Sunday to the current council:

I’m just one of 208,000 residents of Tacoma now, but I do have a different perspective because of my recent Council work. So here goes:

It is important to restoring confidence that our City government is responsive to the citizens of Tacoma that you do not move to reconsider the Resolution condemning Arizona’s recent legislation on Tuesday. Instead, Council Member Boe was exactly right when he said that this deserves more study and specific recommendations as it relates to Tacoma, with no need even to mention Arizona. Read more »

May
20th

UPDATED: Council newbie David Boe getting schooled

Tacoma City Council freshman David Boe just can’t seem to get it right. He votes “nay” when he should abstain, and abstains when he should vote no. Or so it seems to the likes of editorial board members.

Boe, who goes before the city ethics board tonight on a complaint that he should have recused himself from a vote on the Cheney Stadium redesign, raised a few eyebrows again this week when he ducked taking a position on the Tacoma City Council’s attempt to denounce Arizona’s immigration law.

Boe abstained because he objected to the resolution as written. Sounds like a perfect reason to oppose the measure outright to me. Was this a case of a councilman simply not wanting to be on the record? No, Boe says. He explained in an email:

my abstaining on this issue was to remove my vote from consideration… because the resolution as revised … had no business coming before the Council.

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May
19th

Tacoma council right to forgo hypocritical boycott

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Neither the Tacoma City Council nor its Seattle counterpart emerged from their debates over Arizona’s immigration-enforcement law this week unscathed.

Both councils are due some lumps for presuming to counsel a border state overwhelmed by illegal immigration.
City leaders living 1,000 miles north of the Mexican border can’t possibly fathom the depths of frustration that led Arizona to take matters into its own hands after years of federal inaction.

But give the Tacoma council some credit. It may not have had any more right to stick its nose in Arizona’s business than Seattle did, but at least Tacoma council members have copped to the impotence of the gesture.

That’s more than can be said of Seattle. The council there voted 7-0 to stage a “boycott” of goods and services from Arizona.

Some boycott. The resolution “urges” Seattle city government to refrain from sending employees to Arizona and from entering into new contracts with businesses headquartered there – “to the extent practicable.”

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May
15th

Tacoma council should stay out of Arizona’s business

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council speaks for the city, not just itself.

The current crop of council members should bear that in mind as they debate Arizona’s immigration-enforcement law this week.

Councilmembers Ryan Mello and Lauren Walker propose that Tacoma help spank Arizona’s economy for what Arizona politicians – and a remiss federal government – have wrought. Their resolution would discourage city business with the state.

Tacoma wouldn’t be the first to pass a boycott. A small but growing bandwagon of cities is attempting to take a stand against Arizona’s tough immigration stance by taking their money elsewhere.

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March
10th

Tacoma councilman’s sin was not disclosing conflict

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

David Boe should have known better.

The newly minted Tacoma City Councilman admits as much now. Unfortunately, the damage to the public trust is already done.

Boe, an architect and small business owner, was the hands-down favorite earlier this year when the Tacoma City Council was selecting from applicants for two vacant council seats.

Council members liked his creativity, independence and wealth of urban planning credentials. They liked that he wouldn’t be someone who would go with the flow.

He has certainly lived up to that billing in recent days as an outspoken critic of the city’s process for picking a team to renovate Cheney Stadium.

Boe was not the only council member to fault the winning concept’s look and roof line. But his critique carried the most weight, coming as it did from the council’s resident architect.

What Boe didn’t think to share – until questioned Tuesday – was that he was not a completely impartial observer.

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Jan.
14th

Tacomans paid a price for their council’s secrecy

As we’ve repeatedly noted, the Tacoma City Council shut the public out when its members decided on finalists for two open seats. The citizens paid a price for that secrecy.

I’ll focus on a single case. In making that first cut, the council eliminated 36 applicants, leaving eight. One of the rejected candidates was architect Jim Merritt, who narrowly lost the citywide election for mayor last September. His opponent, Marilyn Strickland, was among the council members who secretly made the cuts last week.

Was Mayor Strickland magnanimous, chilly or judicious in that discussion? Did she defend her recent rival? Argue cogently against possible polarization resulting from his appointment? I don’t particularly care what side she came down on. But Tacomans would have learned more about their new mayor had they been privy to a discussion that produced a de facto decision behind closed doors.

I’m not arguing for Merritt’s appointment here, just wondering why his application was dumped in favor of other candidates who – for all their virtues – couldn’t match his very long record of contributions to the city.
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Jan.
13th

Council did citizens, council hopefuls no favors

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The new Tacoma City Council isn’t making much of a first impression. Not even two weeks into the new year, the council is already on notice with a court.

The council’s meeting last Wednesday to pick the finalists for two council vacancies raised many an eyebrow, but by all appearances the council remains unrepentant.

Council members not only excluded the public from its discussion about the 44 applicants – which it’s legally entitled to do – but also went a step beyond the law by privately settling on a list of finalists.

The public got spectacle rather than insight. Eight times in a row, Councilman Jake Fey motioned to name a finalist, Councilwoman Lauren Walker seconded, and the council voted unanimously without discussion.

It was “curious,” as finalist David Boe described the process. To say the least. To this day, Tacoma citizens have no real idea what, in council members’ eyes, set these eight apart in their ability to serve the public.

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