Follow us:

Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

September 16, 2014 at 6:12 AM

Big expectations for Port of Seattle’s new CEO Ted Fick

New Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick.

New Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick.

The Port of Seattle installed a new CEO last week in what is proving to be one of the highest-profile public positions in the greater Puget Sound area. Ted Fick’s $350,000-a-year salary isn’t bad for government work – but he will face some rather big expectations to match. And eventually he’s going to have to deal with some pretty tough questions.

By now Fick knows what they are. He heard a fair number of them at the press conference that followed his appointment by the Seattle Port Commission. What are the prospects for a merger with the Port of Tacoma? What can the region do to maintain its current market share in container shipping? What about the challenges being posed by Canadian port developments, at Vancouver and Prince Rupert? By an expanded Panama Canal? By proposals to plunk high-traffic basketball arenas and “entertainment districts” right at the port’s front door?

Executive Fick offered a most political answer: “It is only my first day, and I look forward to understanding the issues better.”

More

Comments | Topics: Port of Seattle, ted fick

September 15, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Slideshow: Mayor Ed Murray walks through Seattle’s Chinatown International District

On Saturday, The Seattle Times published my editorial notebook on Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “Find It, Fix It” community walk through Chinatown International District. Well over 100 people showed up to take a stroll through the neighborhood, pointing out their concerns along the way.

Here’s a slideshow from the event, which began at 6 p.m. last Thursday and ended around 7:30 p.m. 

More

Comments | Topics: chinatown international district, ed murray, public safety

September 15, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Rare good news for state mental health system

Since the state Supreme Court’s “psychiatric boarding” ruling last month, the news has been all bad for the state. The ruling requires Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration to find at least 145 new beds, or else patients who need involuntary psychiatric care could be cut loose, without treatment, to the streets.

The view from  the King County Superior court room at Harborview Medical Center where  involuntary commitment cases are heard. (Mike Seigal / Seattle Times)

The view from the King County Superior court room at Harborview Medical Center where involuntary commitment cases are heard. (Mike Seigal / Seattle Times)

That task is so big that the Department of Social and Health Services had to get an unusual 120-day stay on the court’s ruling. And it’s so expensive that Inslee authorized $30 million in un-budgeted mental health funding, just to get through 2014.

Last week, the state finally got some good news. DSHS got word that it obtained a waiver from what’s known as the “IMD exclusion,” an arcane 1960’s-era rule that bans Medicaid from paying for psychiatric hospitalizations in facilities larger than 16 beds.

More

Comments | Topics: mental health, psychiatric boarding, state Legislature

September 12, 2014 at 6:35 AM

About Blanca Torres, new editorial board member and columnist

Blanca Torres

Blanca Torres (Photo by Kate Riley / Seattle Times)

Hello, readers! I’m joining the Times as an editorial writer and columnist after nine years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Disclaimer: I’m not a Niners fan and even wrote a column about my dual love of San Francisco and Seattle. With more than a decade of experience as a business reporter, I’m shifting gears toward editorial and opinion writing and am looking forward to questioning, agitating and exposing the region’s top issues, events and people.

My new job is a homecoming of sorts for me. I loved living in the Bay Area and wasn’t chased away by the high cost of living, but chose to return to the Pacific Northwest. I was born and raised in the Tri-Cities and left home to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where I was something of an anomaly. Not only did Vanderbilt attract few students from Washington, but people were shocked to find out a Mexican-American could come from a state other than Texas or California.

My love affair

More

Comments | Topics: Pasco, san francisco, Seattle Times editorial board

September 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Are cities being racially discriminatory in banning legal marijuana?

Recreational Marijuana Ordinances across Washington (Click image to view graphic interactive)

Recreational marijuana ordinances across Washington (Click image to view graphic interactive)

The growing number of cities and counties in Washington opting out of Washington’s marijuana legalization experiment is eating away at the foundation of Initiative 502, as a Seattle Times editorial in Thursday’s paper suggested. The lack of stores in widening swaths of the state perpetuates the black market and maintains underground access of youth.

A new lawsuit filed in Benton County Superior Court against Kennewick’s ban takes the argument further: Bans are also racially discriminatory. The suit, filed on behalf of a would-be marijuana company, suggests that Kennewick’s ban (as well as similar prohibitions in all three Tri-Cities and Franklin County) push the underground marijuana trade to poorer neighborhoods. Since marijuana is a cash cow for gangs, they’ll continue to battle for turf.

Quoting from the lawsuit:

“Gang warfare is a natural consequence of cannabis prohibition in Kennewick and the Tri-Cities region. Gangs engage in street warfare to protect their ‘turf,’ the physical location, often a public street corner or park, or territory in which they sell drugs.”

More

Comments | Topics: alison holcomb, initiative 502, marijuana

September 11, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Seattle takes bold and necessary stand for net neutrality

The online homes for the City of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray became protest sites on Wednesday, part of the nationwide “Internet slowdown” effort to oppose proposed federal regulations that would create a two-lane highway on the Internet — fast for those companies that can afford premium prices and slow for everyone else.

As seen in the screenshot below, a buffering icon signifying slower speeds was added to the Office of the Mayor’s website. In a blog post, Murray called on the Federal Communications Commission to preserve an open Internet that is equitable.

Screenshot of Mayor Ed Murray's website on Wednesday.

Screenshot of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s website on Wednesday.

Do you agree with the mayor’s stance? The Seattle Times editorial board does, as stated in numerous editorials over the past year.

Here’s an excerpt from a July 19 editorial:

More

Comments | Topics: net neutrality, Seattle

September 10, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Good arguments from Washington lawmakers on Export-Import Bank

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia.

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia.

The current argument in Congress over the Export-Import Bank isn’t just the biggest show of the September session, or even a matter of particular importance to trade-dependent Washington state. It’s also a chance for two Washington members to practice their debating skills.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, are rightly calling the latest proposal to emerge from U.S. House Republican leadership an act of political cowardice — a proposal to kick the issue ahead a few months, sometime after the election. Postponement would make it harder for American exporters to compete for overseas customers. And that’s at best, maintains Heck, prime sponsor of the House Democrats’ proposal to continue the bank for another seven years. Those who wish to delay debate “ought to be courageous enough to talk about what their very-short-term proposal is about,” he said. “It’s about killing Ex-Im.”

More

Comments

September 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Mayor Ed Murray should engage with Nickelsville and Little Saigon

Mayor Ed Murray is a man on a mission to make this city work, shepherding through legislation on contentious issues from raising the minimum wage to successfully pitching for a Seattle Park District and negotiating a compromise between ride-services and taxi drivers.

He could be even more effective by taking advantage of the opportunity before him to foster a positive, lasting relationship with the ethnic community in the Chinatown-International District. This is not the most politically active community in the traditional sense, but it could be.

A first step would be to listen to and address the concerns of Little Saigon business leaders, who are on their own as they figure out a culturally sensitive way to respond to Nickelsville’s move from the Central District to a temporary space at 1351 South Dearborn Street. The interim site was erected last week. Residents plan to move to nearby 1010 South Dearborn Street pending approval of a permit from the city.

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times published an editorial on Aug. 28 calling on the city to find shelter for the roughly 40 residents living in the Nickelsville homeless encampments.

More

Comments | Topics: chinatown international district, homelessness

September 9, 2014 at 6:09 AM

NBA gaffe 2.0 may help Seattle get a team, but won’t improve race relations

Danny Ferry, Hawks President of Basketball Operations and GM

Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnny Crawford)

Seattle is stirring about another prospect for regaining professional basketball.

This time the inkling comes from Atlanta, where majority Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the NBA team after he acknowledged sending emails questioning the team’s economic viability because of its predominantly black fan base.

Specifically, Levenson worried that “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”

On the surface, it sounds just like former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling expressing a personal distaste for racial minorities. In response to the cultural backlash, the NBA forced Sterling to sell the team last month to Seattle businessman Steve Ballmer.

But Seattleites should resist the temptation to paint Levenson with the Sterling brush, no matter what affect it has on repatriating that NBA franchise.

More

Comments | Topics: bruce levenson, donald sterling, hawks

September 5, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Reader responses to newcomers to Seattle: Most vulnerable Seattleites have reason to fear change

My recent editorial notebook and solicitation for experiences of new Seattle migrants produced an assortment of tales and, not surprisingly, a good dose of resentment.

Several readers replied emphatically to my suggestion that newcomers could contribute to the city’s growth with strong suggestions that I go back to where I came from. One email’s subject line summed up the sentiment: “Who asked you?”

“We aboriginals have loved and lived and appreciated what we have, just the way it was,” the email read. It finished: “Leave us alone,  we were doing just fine. Who says we want to evolve?”

A more thoughtful respondent boasted the following:

“Yes there’s a lot that can be made better, but not by you, who have no sense of place, people, or history. You have no investment, except perhaps financial, please take that investment with you and go.”

The authors may not have expected it, but I understand their reaction. Wherever this attitude surfaces, it usually comes from the most vulnerable with the most tenuous hold on an illusory stability.

Any change loosens their grasp on that already shaky stability, so it makes sense that any suggestion of change prompts fear.

When I said new arrivals could contribute to Seattle’s future – rather than be a drain on it – what some heard was that new arrivals “hate” Seattle and want to change what long-time residents cherish most about the city.

While Seattle certainly has an abundance of unique charms, it also has plenty to work on.

More

Comments | Topics: Seattle

Next Page »