Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Nov. 2009

Nov.
30th

Thanks, Arkansas, for giving us Maurice Clemmons

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In 2007, gross misjudgments in a distant state allowed a one-man crime wave – Daniel Tavares Jr. – to move to Washington and murder a young Graham couple. A series of blunders in Massachusetts had set him free to pursue his criminal career in Pierce County.

Now it looks as if history may have repeated itself with Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old fugitive charged with gunning down four Lakewood police officers on Sunday.

Like Tavares in Massachusetts, Clemmons – still at large as of this writing – was returned to the streets in Arkansas despite ample evidence that he remained a grave threat to society. In both cases, the law-and-order people made rookie errors.

In Massachusetts, prosecutors failed to provide a judge with crucial information about Tavares’ criminal background, and the judge released him without bail – not knowing he’d killed his mother, had a record of violence as long as the prison yard, and was even then facing felony charges for assaulting guards.

Clemmons’ history with the justice system is still unfolding. But one thing is clear already: Had the folks in Arkansas been paying attention, he’d still be doing hard time down there, not fleeing police up here in the aftermath of a horrifying crime.
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Nov.
30th

Watt-guzzling TVs latest target but not last

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

America’s obsession with the boob tube has run headlong into concerns about the costs and consequences of satisfying the nation’s appetite for power.

This month, California became the first state in the nation to adopt energy-consumption limits for televisions up to 58 inches. Regulations for larger sets are to follow.

Washington state is widely expected to follow California’s lead – if the federal government doesn’t beat us to the punch. The Golden State’s energy efficiency standards has found their way into federal policy over the last three decades at an increasing clip.

Certainly, something needs to happen to staunch the energy drain that big-screen televisions and their accessories have become.
TV-related power usage has more than tripled since 2000. There are a number of reasons for the surge, and most are beyond the reach of regulators. Americans are buying bigger televisions and more of them. They also keep the sets turned on more hours of the day.

Read more »

Nov.
30th

Pointing the finger at Mike Huckabee

Tim Egan, the former Seattle newspaperman who has become a rising national journalistic star as an award-winning author and reporter for The New York Times, unloads on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in this blog column today.

Egan has the same thought I did when I first learned that Huckabee had approved the early release of Maurice Clemmons,  who is being hunted as the suspect in the ambushing killings of four Lakewood police officers Sunday.

I immediately thought of the infamous Willie Horton ad that Bush One unleashed against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.  Fairly or not, Huckabee’s role

Read more »

Nov.
29th

A crime and a loss beyond expression

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Shock. Sympathy. Anger.

Such words hardly describe the depth of what citizens – and the staff of this newspaper – felt Sunday after hearing that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down in a Parkland coffee shop.

Maybe the shock is a good place to start. In Pierce County, deliberate killings of police officers have been rare. Prior to Sunday, only four had occurred over the last 30 years. In each case, a single officer died. Suddenly, four officers – Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Sgt. Mark Renninger – are dead in a single day.

Four officers, one shooting. There’s no precedent in state history, and only a few precedents in the nation’s history. Officers aren’t told this nearly enough, but the vast majority of citizens cherish them, respect them and deeply appreciate the risks they willingly incur protecting the innocent from the violent and the predatory. The killing of one of these valiant professionals rips a terrible wound in any community. The killing of four leaves us reeling.

It’s not just that they were killed; it’s that they were apparently killed for no other reason than they were officers. When officers are murdered in the line of duty, it is usually because they are trying to arrest a criminal or stop a crime in progress. They are killed in the heat of action, because they are in the way.

This looks like a different kind of killing. The four Lakewood officers had casually gathered, doing paperwork. The killer appears to have deliberately stalked them, singling them out solely because of the shields they wore. No one else at the scene was harmed.
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Nov.
28th

Stick to necessity in health care reform

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

To get an idea of the brutal gantlet health care reform will be running in coming weeks, consider this: “Obamacare” has now been officially designated an anti-gun bill by Gun Owners of America.

Say what? Yes, the organization fears the “wellness and prevention” provisions in the bills before Congress might empower the “rabidly anti-gun HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius” to punish gun owners with higher premiums.

More broadly, “all this increased spending – and taxes – means that you will have less money to spend on pursuing your real passions: like providing for your family and purchasing guns and ammunition.”

We’ll leave any rebuttals to others. The point is, any comprehensive health care reform bill is going to have lots of moving parts, and any number of interest groups might find threats – real or imagined – in some of them. Enough interest groups get riled up, and it’s all over. It’s far easier to kill a bill than to pass one.
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Nov.
26th

Reverse-911 a powerful tool – if used correctly

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The late-night and early-morning robo-calls that annoyed and frightened some Lakewood residents last week are rightfully prompting emergency planners to refine the county’s fledgling reverse-911 call system.

The system sent automated pleas for help to about 11,000 Lakewood homes at about 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 and at 6 a.m. the following day.

The calls were initiated by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, which was trying to assist the Lakewood police in finding a missing 50-year-old man.

The calls rattled some Lakewood residents, as hearing the phone ring at 11:30 p.m. often does. Calls at that hour of the night usually don’t bring good news. Other residents were just plain irked by the following day’s wake-up call.

Read more »

Nov.
26th

Credit card companies get while getting’s good

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Credit card companies are begging for a backlash as they race to squeeze as much money out of American consumers as they can before tighter regulations take effect in February.

Interest rates are up an average of 20 percent, even for the best customers. Card issuers have altered account terms and tacked on new fees – anything, it seems, to make a buck.

Their scheming reveals just how determined the industry is to perpetuate profiteering practices, no matter how unfair or deceptive. It also challenges any assurances that such tactics will come to a sudden halt once the new rules kick in.

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Nov.
25th

For all this and more, we give thanks

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It’s official: Giving thanks isn’t just a feel-good exercise. It actually has positive, tangible payoffs.

According to a study funded by the National Science Foundation, people who feel grateful for help are more likely to provide help to others. (That could explain why poorer folks give a higher percentage of their income to charity than wealthy ones.)

But giving thanks is also good for the givers. They’re less envious and resentful, they sleep better, exercise more and may even experience lower blood pressure, reports Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

So keep that in mind as you give thanks today. You’re not just being grateful; you’re a force for good in the world and for yourself.
What are we thankful for this Thanksgiving Day? Read more »