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September 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM

The gun-free zone program is an effort in futility

(Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art)

(Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art)

Editor’s note: Osa Hale is an intern in our opinion section. She just graduated from Western Washington University.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the organization Washington CeaseFire have introduced a “Gun-Free Zone” program, encouraging businesses to exercise their rights to ban guns from their private property. This is a quick and easy attempt to stand up to gun violence.

Starbucks said Tuesday it would join the gun-free program in an open letter from Chief Executive Howard Schultz.

Although it makes sense to try to remove guns from the equation, the gun-free program seems like trying to bail out a sinking ship with a leaky bucket. It’s better than nothing, but not by much.

Gun-rights advocates like Alan Gottlieb, who founded the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, see the program as all flash and no substance.

“[The mayor] could do lots of other things to prevent crime,” Gottlieb said. “Punish those people who misuse firearms, not those who own and use them properly.”

Gottlieb went on to say the program could actually endanger customers.

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Comments | Topics: gun control, mike mcginn, starbucks

August 28, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Why college grads also want the minimum wage to rise

Illustration by M. Ryder / Op Art

Illustration by M. Ryder / Op Art

Editor’s note: Osa Hale is a Western Washington University intern for our opinion section this summer.

At $9.19 an hour, Washington’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation. The Evergreen State is also fairly wealthy; its per-capita personal income is 12th out of all the states. Yet Seattle is seeing a surge of workers demanding a higher minimum wage: $15 is the popular number among unhappy airport and fast-food workers. (Here is a Seattle Times news story about airport workers and blog post by business news columnist Jon Talton about fast-food workers.) We are also seeing Mayor Mike McGinn take up the living wage fight with Whole Foods, according to this column by news columnist Danny Westneat, in an attempt to set a precedent in connecting use of public land to unions and wages.

This is not an isolated situation. President Barack Obama has been advocating a federal increase in minimum wage, saying it’s a priority for successful businesses to pass on their financial success to their employees.

This is something that should be addressed sooner, rather than later. Consider the big ugly financial monster facing many minimum-wage-earners: student loans.

Let’s focus on fast food. The median age of food preparation and serving workers (including fast food) is about 29 years old, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When I think of where I want to be at 29, flipping burgers isn’t on the list. But for many, it’s a reality.

Despite a rising number of young people enrolling in secondary education (between 2000 and 2010, enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased 37 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics), fewer graduates are finding work in the field they earned a degree to enter, and nearly half of employed college grads are working jobs that do not require a college degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I’d like to pause and dispel a myth of the lazy college grad, living with his or her parents and working as a waitress or fry cook because it’s easy.

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Comments | Topics: economy, minimum wage, student loan debt

August 2, 2013 at 6:13 AM

The need to address homelessness in the Seattle mayor’s race

Editor’s note: Osa Hale, a Western Washington University student, is an opinion intern this quarter.

I live in the University district. Every morning, on my walk to the bus stop, I encounter a few different types of people. There’s the neighbor walking the dog and taking out the trash; there are the morning joggers, and there are the people sleeping under the awning of the University Christian Church and lining up for the food bank.

There are more than 8,800 people known to be homeless in King County, according to the 2012 One Night Count, a point-in-time census conducted by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. Nearly one-third of these people are minors, and at least 400 of them are young adults.

The next Seattle mayor has the responsibility of finding the most cost-effective and thorough way to help these people. The candidates had a few things to say about that task. Everyone made it clear how complex the issue is. But it isn’t enough to talk about why it is so hard to fix this problem. Comprehensive actions need to be taken.

Sen. Ed Murray

State Sen. Ed Murray

For example, state Sen. Ed Murray emphasized the importance of getting people into housing that meets their needs, whether that is a short-term home to get them back on their feet, or a facility that could care for individuals living with mental illness. Murray mentioned the State Housing Trust Fund, saying it was a program he has helped push money into in an effort to help the homeless. The fund has put nearly $1 billion dollars into housing projects since 1987. If elected mayor, Murray said, he would try to create a partnership that would connect the fund with the private sector and nonprofits.

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Comments | More in List | Topics: 2013 elections, mike mcginn, Seattle mayor