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Opinion Northwest

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

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October 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM

What happened to all the legal marijuana stores in Seattle?

Click the image to view an interactive map showing marijuana revenue by city since July 1.

Click the image to view an interactive map showing marijuana revenue by city since July 1.

“You know what’s really been successful because of Initiative 502? The black market.”

That a tough assessment, because it is exactly the opposite of what Initiative 502, the 2012 marijuana legalization measure, was supposed to do. And it’s particularly tough because it comes from a frustrated Alex Cooley, a successful but straight-arrow marijuana grower (I profiled him in a column last year) who both supported I-502 and has multiple I-502 licenses for growing and processing.

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Comments | Topics: liquor control board, marijuana, pot

October 22, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Seattle preschool Proposition 1B’s consensus, and the alternative’s problems

The Seattle Preschool Program —  known as Proposition 1B on the Nov. 4 ballot —  is racking up endorsements. The King County Labor Council, El Centro De La Raza, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and many other groups are on board.  You also have a rare consensus of Seattle’s media organizations, including the centrist Seattle Times editorial board, the left-leaning Publicola,  The Stranger, and even tipped-over-off-the-left-o-sphere blogger David Goldstein.

All say voters should pass Seattle Proposition 1B.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

The unanimity forms around the simple idea that it’s time to get moving on universal, high-quality prekindergarten education. A pair of the nation’s leading pre-K researchers laid out the research behind 1B in a recent Seattle Times guest column. If you missed it, read it.

Understanding the unanimity is important because there’s a competing measure, Proposition 1A, on the ballot. Only one can pass. It’s either-or. Prop. 1A does not create a citywide preschool program. It does not have any way to fund its child-care teacher training enhancements.

And it’s a budget-buster for the city.

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Comments | Topics: city council, endorsements, november election

September 30, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Another delay for the Burke-Gilman’s ‘missing link,’ and an alternative

The long-delayed end to the Burke-Gilman Trail’s “missing link” will be delayed again. The Seattle Department of Transportation has pushed back the timeline by “eight or nine months” for completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS) on route options for the recreation trail superhighway through Ballard, according to SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan. The draft EIS will…

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September 25, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Policing cars, and bikes, on Seattle’s Second Avenue bike lane

Attorney Bob Anderton of Washington Bike Law looked down from his window at the new Second Avenue bike lane striped just beneath his his window. “It warms my heart,” he said.

The 2nd Avenue bike lane at University St. (Mike Siegal / Seattle Times

The 2nd Avenue bike lane at University St. (Mike Siegal / Seattle Times

It also may cost him business. The new protected bike lane through downtown Seattle should reduce accidents on the notorious corridor, where Sher Kung, a young mother and lawyer, died just a week before it opened. 

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Comments | Topics: 2nd Avenue bike lane, bikes

September 23, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Washington’s return to private prisons?

The view from Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. (Mike Siegel / Seattle Times)

The view from Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. (Mike Siegel / Seattle Times)

Washington had a decade-long flirtation with the private prison industry.

It ended badly.

There was at least one serious riot, vehement protests from inmates’ families and charges of shoddy mental-health care. When the last of 1,200-some inmates finally returned home in 2011, they brought the virulent connections to violent prison gangs and an unusual amount of contraband, including cellphones. 

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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.

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

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.”

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Comments | Topics: alison holcomb, initiative 502, marijuana

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…

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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.

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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.

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Comments | Topics: marijuana

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