Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: Patty Murray

June
19th

Don’t threaten salmon habitat with huge Alaska mine

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Two foreign companies want to open an immense gold and copper mine in Alaska that would create 2,500 construction jobs and generate up to $180 million annually in taxes and royalties.

That’s great — for Alaska. But the Pebble Mine could harm West Coast salmon fisheries by threatening key Bristol Bay habitat. And that’s if everything goes right with the mine. If something were to go wrong, the effects would be devastating to a $500 million industry that provides full- and part-time jobs for more than 14,000 workers in commercial and native

Read more »

May
12th

Military must do more to address sexual-assault crisis

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Nothing better sums up the military’s problem regarding sexual assault than the mug shot of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski.

Jeffrey Krusinski
Jeffrey Krusinski

The officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention programs had been arrested — on suspicion of sexual battery in a parking lot against a woman he did not know. Police say she fought him off and called 911.

That someone like Krusinski – an Air Force Academy graduate – may not have gotten the message about unwanted sexual advances shows how far the military still must go to address the problem.

And it’s a big one. Based on anonymous surveys, the Defense Department estimates that about 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012 – an increase of almost 37 percent over the previous year. Sexual assault was defined as anything from rape to “unwanted sexual touching” of private parts. Only 3,374 of those assaults were reported in 2012.

Why are so few reported? The survey suggests that victims fear retaliation and have little confidence that the military will prosecute the offense. Read more »

Feb.
12th

Army shouldn’t close ranks around Madigan inquiry

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s hard to beat the U.S. Army when it comes to giving the bureaucratic run-around.

The Army has been blocking News Tribune staffers who have tried to ferret out information about problems at Madigan Army Medical Center, where soldiers apparently had been misdiagnosed during medical disability reviews for combat-related conditions. Even Freedom of Information Act requests have gotten little traction, with the requests lagging for months before being rejected for one reason or another, or being answered incompletely.

Most recently, military reporter Adam Ashton sought information about findings made by the Army Behavioral Task Force, which conducted an Army-wide investigation after the reports of problems at Madigan. At a press conference last week, Army Secretary John McHugh announced that the task force generated 24 findings and 47 recommendations, but he couldn’t share any of them. That might happen at some future, unspecified date.

That’s not good enough. Read more »

June
16th

Pentagon must overcome bureaucracy on PTSD diagnoses

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

It’s welcome news that the Department of Defense is expanding its review of post-traumatic stress syndrome diagnoses. That review will now date back to the 2002 start of the war in Afghanistan and include all branches of the military, not just the Army.

If recent reversals of many diagnoses made at Madigan Army Medical Center are any indications, too many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been wrongly told that they do not suffer from the disorder, affecting their ability to get treatment and receive disability benefits.

According to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray – who has been a pit bull on the subject of veterans’ mental health care – many soldiers whose diagnoses have been reversed said they were told “they were exaggerating their symptoms, lying and accused of shirking their duties.”
Read more »

May
6th

Where are the women candidates?

Today’s centerpiece article on the opinion page about women candidates, “Don’t get mad, get elected,” got me wondering about the future of this state’s female leadership.

Washington has a woman governor and two women senators. The state Senate has a woman majority leader (Lisa Brown), and the state Legislature is full of women.

But now Brown has announced she’s not seeking re-election, and Gov. Chris Gregoire is stepping down, likely to be replaced by either Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee. If Sen. Marie Cantwell is defeated in November, the state will only have one woman elected statewide (Sen. Patty Murray). Read more »

March
7th

Give vets’ caregivers the relief Congress promised

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

When Congress passed legislation last year to pay family caregivers of veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the program was supposed to be up and running by now.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs is not only tardy implementing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act signed by President Obama in March 2010, it is also excluding many wounded veterans’ families that Congress wanted to help with the legislation.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says Congress wanted the law to help at least 3,500 caregivers of severely wounded veterans, at a cost of $1.7 billion over five years. But the VA plans to only serve 840 and has only set aside a fraction of the funding authorized for the caregiver program. That’s “unacceptable,” Murray says. Read more »

Jan.
13th

America must chill the rhetoric of political rage

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

For vociferous conservatives who think that the calls for more civility since the Tucson shootings are all about shutting them up, here are a few examples of what’s going around on the Web lately:

“Sarah Palin is the single most dangerous threat to the future of the human race. Thick venomous cretin she is. Someone bloody shoot her.”

“My hate for Sarah Palin continues to grow. I think this woman should be assassinated.”

“Sarah Palin should be shot for her encouragement of fanaticism against Democrats.”

“Ugh! All the wrong people get shot. Why doesn’t this kind of thing happen at a Sarah Palin event?”

Those lovely tweets were captured in a YouTube post this week that has since been shut down. Their tone echoes the worst rantings of the angry right, including recent threats of violence against Washington’s U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
Read more »

Nov.
10th

Gratitude’s great, but better yet, hire a vet

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

On this Veterans Day, take a moment to thank past and present military men and women for their service.
That gratitude likely will be appreciated. But what they might appreciate even more is a job.

The economy’s been tough on many Americans, with unemployment stalled at about 9.6 percent. It’s been even worse for many U.S. military veterans transitioning to civilian life. They’re facing a record jobless rate of 11.8 percent.

Those leaving active-duty military service aren’t the only ones experiencing employment challenges. National Guard and reservists coming home from sometimes multiple deployments often find that their jobs no longer exist because their employer has downsized or gone out of business. Others are finding that some employers are reluctant to hire someone who might be called up again.

In times past, being a veteran was something positive to list on a job application. Now some vets aren’t mentioning their military service; they perceive an anti-veteran bias – particularly against service members who have been deployed to war zones, due to widely publicized mental health issues experienced by some. Read more »