Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Tacoma

July
2nd

THA offers a broader vision of subsidized housing

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Housing authorities rarely make headlines. When they do, it’s rarely in a good way.

The Tacoma Housing Authority is proving itself the exception.

In recent years, the THA has been reinventing subsidized housing — radically reinventing it, compared with the standard entitlement model.

Federally funded housing authorities have traditionally passed out subsidies like the old welfare system, which had the perverse effect of subsidizing dependency among adults capable of working.

Starting with the welfare reforms of 1996, most heads of families were given a lifetime maximum of five years on public assistance. While on welfare, they were expected to actively seek work or train for jobs.

In contrast, the strings normally attached to federal housing funds have required local housing authorities to increase a family’s subsidies if its income goes down and cut if its income went up. As long as the household fits the formula, the subsidies don’t stop.

But housing authorities have a problem that federal welfare doesn’t: There is never enough money to help every family that can’t afford a decent place to live. The THA has a long line of applicants who commonly wait four or five years for housing assistance.
Read more »

June
20th

Help – not jail – for Pierce County’s mentally ill

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

They’re called the Top 55, which sounds like a good thing. It’s not.

They’re revolving-door customers of the Pierce County Jail – repeat offenders who have also had contact with the mental health system. Many have a history of substance abuse.

As a group, the Top 55 puts an inordinate financial strain on the jail, which is facing a $4.2 million shortfall. Each has gone to jail at least five times in the past 12 months, and in 2012 they accounted for 5,499 days in the facility.

Because of their mental health

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June
12th

Unhappy residents need action, not city threats

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

When some Tacomans painted impromptu crosswalks on St. Helens Avenue, they weren’t just trying to make their neighborhood a little safer. Whether it was their intent or not, they were also sending a message to the city.

That message is that they perceive their city government to be unresponsive to their needs. And that should be at least as much concern to officials as the “rogue” crosswalks that have cropped up.

The city has reacted to the makeshift markings by threatening prosecution — hardly a way to gain trust and convince residents

Read more »

May
29th

Cartoonist Chris Britt on free speech

Syndicated editorial cartoonist Chris Britt – formerly of The News Tribune – was one of the speakers May 3 at the TEDxTacoma conference at Theatre on the Square. He talked about free speech and the role of editorial cartoonists while showing slides of some of his work.

I knew Chris did a lot of speaking gigs but had never seen one; he’s pretty entertaining. I liked how he described his job as “lobbing graphic grenades.”

Watch his talk here. The clip is just over nine minutes long.

May
24th

Tacoma’s Technical Institute comes of age

Few people – even at the University of Washington Tacoma – recall how intensely involved The News Tribune was in the creation of the campus.

In the 1980s, this opinion page ceaselessly hounded lawmakers to create the UWT. A former publisher, the late Kelso Gillenwater, helped plan the state system of branch campuses as a member of the state Higher Education Coordinating Board.

We got into fray again when Prof. Ed Lazowska, a computer science leader at the UW in Seattle, started talking about building an applied-science technical institute in Tacoma. Two redoubtable civic leaders, Herb Simon and Bill Philip, led the lobbying and fund-raising efforts that made the Institute of Technology a reality in 2001. I like to think that our barrage of commentary in favor of the plan did some good, too.

The infant of 2001 is now a 12-year-old, and how he has grown.
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May
21st

Tornado a portent of what could happen here

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Viewing the swath of total destruction left by Monday’s tornado in Moore, Okla., it’s hard to believe anyone could have survived. But as of this writing, the death toll was a surprisingly low 24 – that is expected to rise – even though the twister was a mile-wide, top-of-the-scale EF5 with winds of more than 200 mph.

That’s likely testament to one important factor: Storm trackers gave residents about 16 minutes warning that a tornado was imminent. They had time to take refuge, either in underground shelters or reinforced interior spaces that

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April
27th

A good choice for Tacoma Link light-rail extension

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

There wasn’t an obvious “best” among the options for extending Link light rail further into Tacoma. But the City Council has tentatively chosen a very good one: the “E-1 North Downtown Central Corridor.”

Now all the city needs is to formally vote for it, get approval for its recommendation from the Sound Transit board, win a $50 million federal grant and find another $50 million or so from some other unidentified source.

In other words, this proposed Link project – essentially a consolation prize for not getting a light rail extension from King County – has a lot of hurdles to overcome before it becomes reality. It hasn’t even completely won over the council members, some of whom prefer a route that would serve low-income East Side neighborhoods and provide service near an expanded Emerald Queen Casino. Read more »

April
23rd

Tragedy led to positive public changes

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Ten years ago Friday, the South Sound was stunned by news that Tacoma’s police chief had fatally shot his estranged wife and then himself – with their two young children nearby.

The tragedy was an intensely personal one for the families of Crystal Judson and David Brame, leaving two children orphans and loved ones distraught. But it was also a very public crime, taking place in a Gig Harbor parking lot and involving a high-ranking police officer.

It touched off weeks of investigation and soul-searching by city officials and police seeking the answers to two overarching questions: Read more »