Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: JBLM

July
9th

Simpson’s our choice for Lakewood City Council

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The leadership in Lakewood must be doing something right. Of the four City Council seats up for election this November, only one – the sole open seat – is being contested.

Three first-term council members – Mike Brandstetter, Mary Moss and Jason Whalen – are unopposed. That’s a far cry from years past when Lakewood often saw fiercely fought campaigns against incumbents.

The open Position 5 seat was vacated by Doug Richardson when he was elected to the Pierce County Council. Former council member Helen McGovern-Pilant was appointed to fill the position,

Read more »

April
1st

Extend visa program for Iraqi and Afghan allies

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Being a U.S. soldier in a war zone is hazardous duty, but at least Americans know they’ll be coming home to a safer place when their tour of duty ends.

Iraqis and Afghans who worked with American troops and contractors as translators, drivers and guides – frequently at great risk to themselves and their families – have no such reassurance.

They often live among people who might resent the aid they provided and consider them collaborators. They’ve been targeted by militia groups and others for harassment, threats, kidnapping and even death. In 2011, one foreign aid provider in Iraq estimated that at least 1,000 of these workers had been killed. Read more »

March
7th

Lawmakers should intervene in rail dispute

Map shows Point Defiance Bypass route adjacent to I-5. (WSDOT)
Map shows Point Defiance Bypass route adjacent to I-5. (WSDOT)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

A decision by the Federal Railroad Administration on the controversial Point Defiance Bypass is great for Amtrak. But it could be an economic blow to the future of several South Sound communities and add to the transportation nightmare thousands of commuters already face every day.

And it’s all to shave a few minutes off of Amtrak trains’ time between Seattle and Portland, and run a few more trains on that route. That’s an unacceptable tradeoff.

On Monday, the FRA gave the go-ahead to the $89 million bypass project that would reroute Amtrak trains from along the Puget Sound shoreline through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont. A three-year study found that the project – which would extend by 3.5 miles the rail line now used by the Sounder train to Lakewood – would not adversely affect the environment.

Perhaps, but sending high-speed trains down tracks that cross at-grade intersections would certainly lead to accidents, huge traffic disruptions and economic impacts, especially to Read more »

Dec.
27th

Norm Dicks: Embodiment of a better Congress


Congressman Norm Dicks

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

To understand what Washington will lose when Norm Dicks leaves Congress five days from now, you have to meet the man.

He comes across as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt: beefy and bombastic; exuberant, gregarious and dominating; funny, friendly and full of stories. Though he talks nonstop, he’s no bore: The ideas just come too fast.

After about 10 minutes, you realize Dicks is not merely a consummate politician, but also a man of rare intelligence and insatiable curiosity. Once he’s on one of his favorite subjects – stealth aircraft, for example, or Puget Sound cleanup – you start to wonder if anyone else knows as much as this guy.

At 72, he still looks and talks like an irrepressible ex-Husky linebacker, which he is. On the issues he follows, he’s also a formidable intellectual with a dazzling grasp of technical detail and broad context.

Many of the tributes now being paid to Dicks amount to inventories of the projects and funding he brought home to Washington and the 6th Congressional District during his 36 years in office.

None of those lists is complete, though, because he’s done so much. Here is a sampling: Read more »

Aug.
26th

America’s war in Afghanistan has reached the end game

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Compared with past wars, America’s struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan has been light on casualties.

After almost 12 years, the U.S. death toll stands at roughly 2,000. In the bloodiest battles of World War II and the Civil War, this country has lost that many in a single day.

But the trend – reflected in a spate of recent casualties among soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – has been headed in the wrong direction. A New York Times analysis last week showed that the rate of deaths has risen dramatically in the last two years.

A few numbers tell the story: It took almost nine years for the United States to lose its first 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. It took only 27 months to lose the second 1,000.
Read more »

April
30th

A special place for families opens in South Tacoma


Metro Parks' STAR Center is open in South Tacoma. (Russ Carmack/Courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The era of tight budgets and declining revenues has had at least one positive side effect: It’s forced many public agencies to rethink their old fiefdom mentalities and focus on how they can partner to provide services in economical ways that don’t overlap.

That kind of new thinking is on display in spades at the South End Recreational Adventure Campus, which includes a Boys & Girls Club Topping Hope Center, Gray Middle School, Metro Parks ballfields and the park district’s shiny new STAR Center, which opens for public use today.  (A community open house will be held May 19.)

The STAR Center – STAR stands for South Tacoma Activity and Recreation – is a $16 million facility on South 66th Street that replaces the South Park and Manitou community centers. It’s designed to complement the recreational and educational programming provided by the Tacoma School District and the Boys & Girls Club. Read more »

March
21st

JBLM’s issues need to be considered in context with Army’s

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

When the Stryker “kill team” arrests and prosecutions were in the news, Joint Base Lewis-McChord started getting labeled: “most troubled” base, “base on the brink” and even “rogue.”

Then a former JBLM soldier killed a Mount Rainier ranger. And the capper: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a JBLM Stryker soldier from a different brigade as the “kill team” members, is accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians March 11. Nine of the victims were children, three were women.

Are these most recent examples – along with other crimes and a disturbing rate of suicide – conclusive evidence that there’s something rotten at JBLM?
Read more »

March
19th

After 10 years of war, the Army looks due for relief

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Individual soldiers have their breaking points. So do armies.

We don’t know the story behind a staff sergeant’s alleged massacre of Afghan villagers March 11, but it’s reasonable to assume he was not a paragon of mental health. The fact that he was on his fourth combat deployment may have had something to do with that.

The entire U.S. Army might be described as on its fourth deployment – or fifth, or eighth – since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, respectively, in 2001 and 2003. It’s hardly facing collapse, but symptoms of stress – such as a spiking suicide rate – are all too evident. Read more »