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Opinion Northwest

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

September 22, 2014 at 6:08 AM

No deal in Congress on Ex-Im Bank points to problems in both Washingtons

Delaying a vote on the Ex-Im Bank will impact businesses small and large, creating uncertainty about the availabilty of credit for foreign purchasers of American-made goods. Airplanes, for instance. (Photo by Mike Siegel/ Seattle Times)

Delaying a vote on the Ex-Im Bank will impact businesses small and large, creating uncertainty about the availabilty of credit for foreign purchasers of American-made goods. Airplanes, for instance. (Photo by Mike Siegel/ Seattle Times)

Another nine months of limbo for the federal Export-Import Bank spells big trouble for Washington exporters, large and small. A decision by Republican House leaders last week not to debate the bank’s reauthorization and kick the matter down the road is every bit as much a failure as the squabbling last year that shut down the federal government. Alas, an argument that doesn’t happen never gets as much attention as an argument that does. So Washington state needs to be attentive and place the blame where it is due, for missed business opportunities, sales that go to companies in other countries, and the first step toward a unilateral disarmament that will wreak havoc on Washington’s largest business, Boeing. House GOP leaders last week decided not to permit a vote on bills that would have extended the nation’s export-credit agency for a longish term of five or seven years. Instead they slipped a more modest proviso into the usual “continuing resolution” that allows the federal government to continue functioning, keeping the bank alive until next June 30. Certainly it was better than allowing the 80-year-old institution to expire on Sept. 30, which is what would have happened otherwise. But it is an unwarranted genulflection by Republican leaders toward a faction within the party’s ranks that sees the bank as an affront to free-market principles.


Comments | Topics: Airbus, Boeing, ex-im

September 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Conversation starter: What would you ask state candidates?

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Get ready for the barrage of candidates and campaign information heading toward your doorstep.

Since May, throughout the state, legislative candidates have been doorbelling, speaking at rallies, riding in parades, glad-handing at fairs, meeting with newspaper editorial boards. The Seattle Times editorial board continues to publish its recommendations for voters to consider when they cast their ballots.

But voters themselves can find plenty of opportunity to ask candidates about important topics. The Times editorial board has published its suggestions voters can ask, along with explanations of why they are important.

What would you ask candidates, given the chance? What would you say they need to focus on? Why? Leave your comment in the form below and it might be featured in print and online in the next week.


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: candidates, Conversation Starter, legislature

September 19, 2014 at 6:16 AM

Take a tour with ‘da mayor’ of Seattle Dick Falkenbury

Few new arrivals to Seattle will get a more gilt-edged presentation of the city than the personalized tour I received Wednesday from former 20-year cab driver and 2003 city council candidate Dick Falkenbury.

Dick Falkenbury (Robert J. Vickers / The Seattle Times)

Dick Falkenbury during a tour of Pike Place Market. (Robert J. Vickers / The Seattle Times)

After learning of my newbie status, the lifelong Seattleite and Puget Sound gadfly offered to show me around town, and I eagerly accepted. The nearly three-hour outing left me with butterflies in my stomach.

But my assumption that I would reap the benefits of his encyclopedic Seattle knowledge exclusively that day was shortly dispatched as Falkenbury repeatedly paused to help random glassy-eyed tourists who’d lost their way.

These were my first clear indications that I was travelling with Seattle’s unofficial version of Ed Koch, the late New York City mayor who gained notoriety for walking his streets and querying city dwellers: “How’m I doin’?”

Falkenbury wasn’t asking, but plenty of folks treated him as though he was “da mayor” of the city despite his slightly disheveled appearance and proclivity to speak rather than breathe.

Such recognition about town, his undeniable passion for the city, and the eccentric twinkle in his eye was hard to resist. But more was to come.



September 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Can the Ray Rice domestic violence incident lead to more survivors?

If there’s a bright side to the domestic violence saga of NFL player Ray Rice, it might be that thousands of people took to social media to tell the world about #WhyIstayed and #WhenIleft. The dialogue fueled more awareness and much-needed discussion surrounding domestic violence, but how about more use of hashtags like #WhyIstopped or…


Comments | Topics: domestic violence, NFL, Ray Rice

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.”


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. 


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.


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


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.”


Comments | Topics: alison holcomb, initiative 502, marijuana

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