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Opinion Northwest

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

January 28, 2015 at 6:20 AM

Should marijuana home grows be legal in Washington?

2015 is going to be a big year in marijuana policy and politics. But the most provocative question in pot has yet to be heard in Olympia, or even debated much: legalizing home growing. Seattle Democrat Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the Legislature’s senior stateswoman on marijuana, proposes allowing six-plant home grows for everyone over 21 years old as…


Comments | Topics: initiative 502, marijuana, state Legislature

January 21, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Washington legislators must protect homeless students in K-12 schools

My column in today’s Seattle Times follows up with Solomon Muche, a young immigrant who overcame homelessness in high school and now studies at the University of Washington. He recently spoke to other kids staying at Mary’s Place about the importance of asking for help and finding opportunities to better their circumstances. Right now, thousands of children without permanent housing are struggling to get through the public education system.

University of Washington freshman Solomon Muche, 17, returns to Mary's Place in downtown Seattle to share his story of transitioning from homelessness to college student on Dec. 31, 2014. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

University of Washington freshman Solomon Muche (left), 17, returns to Mary’s Place in downtown Seattle to share his story of transitioning from homelessness to college student on Dec. 31, 2014. In the foreground, his little brother and Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman watch. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Muche’s success is a testament to that age-old idea that everyone has potential, but they need someone to help them reach their goals. That “someone” for many students in Washington is the homeless student liaison, a position the state Legislature supports on paper and is required to provide under federal law, but has not been able to fund or expand to every district in the state.

Meanwhile, the Washington Legislature was informed on Monday of some bad numbers.  The state’s homeless-student population has jumped from 30,609 kids in the 2012-2013 school year to 32,494 the following academic year. As Seattle Times reporter Joseph O’Sullivan points out in this news story, some of that increase could be attributed to better data gathering. Whatever the reason, the problem is getting worse. Black and Native American kids in the K-12 system are three times more likely to be homeless compared to white students.


Comments | Topics: homelessness, king county, legislature

January 16, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Seattle-Green Bay smack talk: Columnists face off about who has the cultural edge

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

From the gridiron to the newsroom, we can’t get Sunday’s big game — the NFC Championship Game pitting the Seahawks against Green Bay — off our minds. Here, Seattle Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnists go head-to-head to prove which region is better — off the field.

Which city and state do you think is better? Add to the smack talk in the comments.

Put down your beers and find some taste

HIGGINS - SEATTLE - 12/18/2014This is that special time of year when Green Bay’s infatuation with its storied football team allows residents there to actually forget where they live.

If you don’t know Green Bay, Wis., think of it as Everett without the charm, and caked in dirty slush.

When Seattle brags about building the world’s best jetliners, Green Bay persists on being known as the “toilet paper capital of the world” because, you know, it invented splinter-free toilet paper.

To be fair, Seattle fans hold a


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: David Haynes, Green Bay Packers, Mark Higgins

January 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Relax, Seattle’s rental market is not in a crisis

Stories about tenants being priced out of their apartments are beginning to feel too familiar: An older apartment building trades hands, then the new owner imposes huge rental increases on tenants, some of whom are on fixed incomes or have been paying below-market rents for years or decades.

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle, where rents are going up. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)

Such a story graced the front page of The Seattle Times this week and metro columnist Danny Westneat vehemently reacted to the news.

While the story of an owner of a nine-unit apartment building more than doubling rents is shocking, it doesn’t represent the larger picture of Seattle’s housing market.

Rents rose about 18 percent in Seattle during the past two years and about 16 percent in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma Census area, according to apartment research firm RealFacts.

Despite the dramatic rent increases, Seattle remains relatively affordable. In addressing the issue of housing affordability, it’s more important to think about how to protect vulnerable tenants versus cursing landlords who want to maximize their revenues, which is in their right as business owners.



January 15, 2015 at 6:25 AM

King County’s one-stop shopping for government benefits

Joshua Stanton stopped by a King County office yesterday to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. “I’m going to be able to get my teeth taken care of,” said Stanton, 30, who lives on Capitol Hill. By the time he walked out a bit later, Stanton got a check up for much more. The…



January 8, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Replay: Video chat on how to meet our state’s transportation needs

Readers of Monday’s Opinion page heard from state Sen. Curtis King and Rep. Judy Clibborn, each with their own perspective on statewide transportation needs and how best to pay a multi-billion dollar price tag. King and Clibborn chair the Senate and House transportation committees, respectively. At noon Thursday, join them and two…


Comments | More in Live chats | Topics: democrats, republicans, transportation

January 2, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Poll: Will you drive less in 2015?

I would love to see more people living in and around Seattle ditch driving in 2015 – and it looks like that could happen.

Heavy traffic is ballooning out of control resulting in two-hour commutes to travel 30 miles in the Seattle region. In addition, Washington prides itself on residents’ concern for the environment. Striving to drive less should be second nature in the Emerald City and Evergreen State.

Some good news: The Seattle Times’ Daniel Beekman reported that more than a million bikes went over the Fremont Bridge in Seattle this year. That constitutes a 10 percent bump in ridership. But wait, there’s more. The Seattle Department of Transportation plans to add or expand bike lanes from the Fremont Bridge to downtown and in South Lake Union along Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue.



January 2, 2015 at 5:45 AM

Map: Why measuring disparities in King County matters

Government can’t solve all of society’s problems, but you have to applaud King County’s willingness to put out its annual Equity and Social Justice report for the sixth straight year. Released in late November, this document is a fascinating read because it measures access to those opportunities that are necessary for people to be…


Comments | Topics: health disparities, king county, map

December 31, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Some cities sour on traffic cameras

The last six weeks have been tough on traffic camera programs across the country. Whether it’s the 469 communities with red-light camera programs, or the 137 that use speeding cameras, backlash from disgruntled motorists and inconsistent impacts on safety have caused many politicians to abandon their use. Here are some notable examples: Nov. 17 – Auburn City…



December 31, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Traffic cameras aren’t ideal for every municipality

The effectiveness of traffic cameras can be boiled down to a tale of two cities – in this case Seattle and Auburn.

Ealier this month, a divided Ohio Supreme Court again upheld use of traffic camera enforcement by the state’s municipalities. (AP Photo / Tony Dejak)

Earlier this month, a divided Ohio Supreme Court again upheld use of traffic camera enforcement by the state’s municipalities. (AP Photo / Tony Dejak)

In Seattle, where traffic cameras have been installed in up to 30 intersections since 2006, the program is considered a public safety and public coffers success.

“In general, where red light cameras have been put in … we have seen notable reductions in collisions,” said Mike Morris-Lent, senior civil engineer in Seattle’s Department of Transportation. “The cameras are doing what they are supposed to be doing, reducing … collisions which tend to be severe and result in injury.”



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