Follow us:

Opinion Northwest

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

Author archives

You are currently viewing all posts written by Jonathan Martin.

August 18, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Busting the stigma of mental illness

In the course of researching for the “What’s troubling mental-health care” editorial package published in Sunday’s Seattle Times, I heard again and again stories of people with mental health disorders living full, healthy lives. These stories rarely make it into the paper, as they are shoved aside by tragedies linked to mental illness. Here are two stories, shared in order…

More

Comments | Topics: bipolar disorder, mental health, mental illness

August 11, 2014 at 5:45 AM

With the end of psychiatric boarding, a new mental health crisis decades in the making

The state Supreme Court’s opinion on Thursday invalidating psychiatric “boarding” has thrown Washington’s already-messy mental-health system into chaos.

An estimated 350 very ill people across the state are currently being warehoused in emergency rooms, usually without treatment, because the state hasn’t funded enough psychiatric beds. State and county mental-health managers are scrambling to suddenly find beds for them. If they don’t, the patients could be cut loose, with potentially dire consequences, particularly to themselves.

King County mental health director Jim Vollendroff told me Friday morning eight people were in limbo. “We’re scrambling for those,” he said.

What’s disturbing is that Thursday’s ruling, In The Matter of The Detention of D.W., seemed to catch the state by surprise, with no advance planning.

More

Comments | Topics: dshs, mental health

July 30, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Marijuana, parenting and toking in public

When voters ended marijuana prohibition in Washington, we didn’t end the civic duty not to be a public jerk.

Not the place to light up. (Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times)

Golden Gardens in Ballard: not the place to light up. (Photo by Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times)

That message hasn’t gotten through. Nearly every parent I know — myself included — has a story similar to one posted on Facebook by my friend Natalie Singer-Velush.

She took three kids — two 8-year-olds and a 7-year-old — for a quick mid-afternoon trip to Golden Gardens on Sunday. Pails, shovels and ice cream in hand, they set up camp… and were enveloped in a cloud of marijuana smoke from three adults sitting upwind just a few feet away.

More

Comments | Topics: marijuana

July 14, 2014 at 6:20 AM

What candidates really mean when they say “secure the border”

Interviewing Congressional candidates over the past two weeks, The Seattle Times editorial board kept a tally of vague but repetitive phrases. Top of the list: “secure the border first.” I asked candidate after candidate to define “secure,” and got more vacuous rhetoric. Why is that so hard? Because the candidates aren’t saying what they really think. Christopher Wilson,…

More

Comments | Topics: border security, congress, illegal immigration

July 8, 2014 at 6:25 AM

State marijuana stores will disappoint. But that’s a good thing.

UPDATED, 8:40 a.m.: Brian Smith of the Liquor Control Board said said an emergency rule adopted by the board on June 25 requires products be homogenized (assuring the psychoactive THC is equally distributed), scored for individual dosage (such as the squares on a chocolate bar) and be submitted to the board for pre-approval. That could theoretically happen within weeks, although a shortage of marijuana from licensed processors could further delay the appearance of edibles.

ORIGINAL POST: When Washington’s first legal marijuana stores open today, they’ll lack a product that will eventually dominate the market. It would be like opening a liquor store by selling only gin.

But in choosing to temporarily not have marijuana-infused food and drink products in stock, the state Liquor Control Board made a smart gamble. At the risk of alienating some customers,  the state avoids the potential health and public-relations debacle vividly described in New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s now-famous “panting and paranoid” bad trip from a marijuana-infused chocolate bar.

It is a good call.

More

Comments

July 2, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Send Gordon Hirabayashi to the National Statuary Hall

Who's missing from the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall?

Who’s missing from the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall?

Washington State’s delegation in the National Statuary Hall hasn’t been updated since 1980, when the bronze casting of Sister of Providence nun Mother Joseph was shipped east. I think Washington should recall her, or missionary Marcus Whitman, and send back Gordon Hirabayashi, the courageous resister of Japanese-American internment in World War II.

Hirabayashi was among the interesting responses to my suggestion that we “hit refresh” on the state’s statues in the Capitol Statuary Hall collection, which honors two deceased icons from each state.

Whitman and Mother Joseph have their fans. Sister Judith Desmarais, of the Sisters of Providence’s Mother Joseph province, defends Mother Joseph as a pioneering architect who built 30 schools and institutions.

But others liked the idea of a fresh contingent. Responses linked — probably for the first time ever — Kurt Cobain and Bing Crosby as worthy candidates. Reader Ken Bertrand of Seattle said he suggested

More

Comments | Topics: Bing Crosby, Capitol Statuary, Edward R. Murrow

June 26, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Who represents Washington state in the U.S. Statuary Hall?

In the National Statuary Hall version of “The Bachelor,” Marcus Whitman would be a big winner. As depicted by his statue, the missionary doctor from Walla Walla had rippled thighs, a buckskin shirt tight across his abs and a hipster beard. Narcissa Whitman would’ve been thrilled, had she not been killed by Cayuse Indians. That statue would…

More

Comments | Topics: history, washington state

June 13, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Bring the World Cup to Seattle

If the World Cup comes to the U.S., “a significant portion of it would be in Seattle.”

centurylink (1)

Imagine World Cup at CenturyLink Field. (John Lok / Seattle Times)

That’s the promise of Ralph Morton of the Seattle Sports Commission, who helped put together the U.S.’s runner-up bid for the 2022 cup. He was talking about a potential bid for 2026.

But by day, it looks like the 2022 cup may be back in play.

More

Comments | Topics: brazil, fifa, qatar

June 9, 2014 at 6:25 AM

How to prevent the next SPU shooting

The picture emerging of Aaron Rey Ybarra is crushingly familiar.YbarraCourt

A young man with documented mental health problems (he was twice evaluated for involuntary psychiatric hospitalization) who’d said he “wanted to hurt himself and others“; who hadn’t seen a mental health provider for months and appeared to be taking his medications sporadically; yet was striving for stability, with a new job and sessions at Alcoholics Anonymous.

The picture still needs to be filled out, and the policies to spin out of this tragedy should include a review of state gun laws. But I read Ybarra’s story as a call for an important mental health reform, largely neglected here in Washington.

Ybarra may have been a good candidate for what’s known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. It involves court-ordered outpatient therapy, with intensive supervision of a treatment plan that can include housing and other help. Patients have to have a serious illness, including hospitalizations, and often have a history of noncompliance with treatment.

New York has a program, known as “Kendra’s Law,” with about 2,500 people, at a cost of $32 million, according to a New York Times story, but it is estimated by Duke University researchers to save about 50 percent per-patient off state Medicaid costs because patients didn’t go to expensive hospitals nearly as often.

From the Duke study, which included New York and surrounding counties:

More

Comments | Topics: assisted outpatient treatment, gun culture, legislature

Next Page »