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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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You are currently viewing all posts written by Thanh Tan. Thanh is a multimedia editorial writer. Prior to joining the editorial board of The Seattle Times, she was a political and general assignment reporter with local TV stations in Boise and Portland, an Emmy-winning reporter / producer / host with Idaho Public Television, and a multimedia reporter with The Texas Tribune in Austin. She has also contributed to "This American Life" and The New York Times. Born and raised in Olympia, Thanh graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. She loves food, music, politics, films, yoga, the outdoors and journalism. She lives in Capitol Hill.

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. 

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Comments | Topics: chinatown international district, ed murray, public safety

September 11, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Seattle takes bold and necessary stand for net neutrality

The online homes for the City of Seattle and Mayor Ed Murray became protest sites on Wednesday, part of the nationwide “Internet slowdown” effort to oppose proposed federal regulations that would create a two-lane highway on the Internet — fast for those companies that can afford premium prices and slow for everyone else.

As seen in the screenshot below, a buffering icon signifying slower speeds was added to the Office of the Mayor’s website. In a blog post, Murray called on the Federal Communications Commission to preserve an open Internet that is equitable.

Screenshot of Mayor Ed Murray's website on Wednesday.

Screenshot of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s website on Wednesday.

Do you agree with the mayor’s stance? The Seattle Times editorial board does, as stated in numerous editorials over the past year.

Here’s an excerpt from a July 19 editorial:

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Comments | Topics: net neutrality, Seattle

September 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Mayor Ed Murray should engage with Nickelsville and Little Saigon

Mayor Ed Murray is a man on a mission to make this city work, shepherding through legislation on contentious issues from raising the minimum wage to successfully pitching for a Seattle Park District and negotiating a compromise between ride-services and taxi drivers.

He could be even more effective by taking advantage of the opportunity before him to foster a positive, lasting relationship with the ethnic community in the Chinatown-International District. This is not the most politically active community in the traditional sense, but it could be.

A first step would be to listen to and address the concerns of Little Saigon business leaders, who are on their own as they figure out a culturally sensitive way to respond to Nickelsville’s move from the Central District to a temporary space at 1351 South Dearborn Street. The interim site was erected last week. Residents plan to move to nearby 1010 South Dearborn Street pending approval of a permit from the city.

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times published an editorial on Aug. 28 calling on the city to find shelter for the roughly 40 residents living in the Nickelsville homeless encampments.

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Comments | Topics: chinatown international district, homelessness

August 27, 2014 at 6:04 AM

What it means for schools to lose control over Title I funds and No Child Left Behind waiver

No one should envy school district leaders right now. Many are in the process of sending letters to parents telling them their child’s school is failing to meet adequate yearly progress. Plus, they’ve lost control over a total of nearly $40 million in Title I funds used to help poor students improve reading and math…

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Comments | Topics: Education, nclb, waiver

August 25, 2014 at 6:02 AM

3-minute recap: Video chat on problems, solutions for Washington’s mental health system

In case you missed last Thursday’s Google+ On Air Hangout on mental health care here in Washington state, here’s a three-minute highlight video from the nearly 45-minute long online chat. Watch the full replay and read The Seattle Times editorial board’s week-long series of editorials, which shine a bright light on the successes…

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Comments | Topics: mental health, psychiatric boarding, Seattle

August 20, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Continue the push for human rights in Vietnam

Remarkable changes are afoot in Vietnam, a country that Americans left in humiliating fashion nearly 40 years ago when Saigon fell to communist forces.

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, left, review an honor guard before their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday Aug. 14, 2014. Dempsey will hold talks with Vietnamese defense officials Wednesday on a visit that aims to boost military ties between the two former foes. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, and Vietnamese Chief of General Staff of the Army, Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty, left, review an honor guard before their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday Aug. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

Last week, the U.S. Army’s highest-ranking official visited Hanoi to mend old war wounds and to set the stage for a new, friendlier era that goes beyond diplomacy to possibly include arms sales to Vietnam. Here’s what U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told USA Today in a Aug. 18 news report:

“That’s not to say it won’t happen without some effort. But I think there’s a possibility that Vietnam could be a very strong partner. Look at our history with the British or the Germans or the Japanese. It could be like a phoenix rising from the ashes. That’s what I hope happens here in this relationship.”

For many in Seattle’s large Vietnamese-American community, including myself, it’s difficult to view any actions by Vietnam’s government without skepticism. Overseas Vietnamese — predominantly made up of refugees and citizens of the former South Vietnam forced to flee after the communist takeover — have long staged protests and movements for democracy, religious freedom and human rights in their homeland. The regime has largely ignored those pleas— until now.

Vietnam has few options. Its leadership needs allies to fend off China’s aggression in the South China Sea and to increase trade.

Among the reasons to believe the tide has turned and Vietnam is on the verge of a substantive political shift:

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Comments | Topics: trans pacific partnership, vietnam, vietnam war

August 15, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Lessons from Ferguson: Citizens have right to capture photos, videos of militarized police

Numerous journalism associations came forward on Thursday to condemn the unnecessary arrest and subsequent release of two reporters covering the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Mo.

Read The Washington Post’s roundup of statements or see the tweet below from the American Society of Newspaper Editors:

Reporters Wesley Lowerey of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post were simply doing their jobs. So far, it appears police entered the McDonald’s they were working in and escalated the situation for no good reason. Those uniformed officers should be identified, punished and trained on how to treat fellow citizens with respect, whether they are civilians or members of the press.

They only have themselves to blame for the widespread attention to their actions.

Reporters are in Ferguson to cover a story. When they become part of the narrative, journalists everywhere pay attention. Coverage blows up to a whole new level. Unfortunately, it took the mistreatment of these two journalists for Missouri officials to “get it” and send in State Patrol officers to seize law enforcement authority.

What’s more striking to many of us is the series of images and video coming out of Missouri, including the photo below captured by The Washington Post. Are we looking at scenes from a war zone or Middle America? Hard to tell the difference these past few days.

The unrest reminds me of a 2011 rap song by Seattle’s Blue Scholars called “Oskar Barnack ∞ Oscar Grant,”

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Comments | Topics: Ferguson, Michael Brown, Mo.

August 14, 2014 at 6:03 AM

FCC should listen to tech-savvy Seattle and preserve open Internet

Well, Seattle residents have spoken. Many of them, anyway, in favor of preserving net neutrality and against creating a two-lane Internet highway in which Internet providers could charge some users more for faster access and connectivity. The Federal Communications Commission recently released about 1.1 million comments from its first comment period.  TechCrunch’s initial analysis found…

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Comments | Topics: fcc, net neutrality, Seattle

August 6, 2014 at 6:02 AM

As border children seek safety, some leaders show cowardice

Children considered refugees of Central America will not be sent to military bases for temporary housing, including Joint Base Lewis-McChordU.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash, issued a statement Tuesday that appropriately summed up the need for Congress to fund efforts to address the border crisis and to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

In this Wednesday, June 18, 2014, file photo, two young girls watch a World Cup soccer match on a television from their holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. As of Thursday, July 17, 2014, immigrant children caught crossing the Mexican border into Texas illegally and alone are no longer being sent to a massive Nogales facility. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File)

A June 18, 2014 file photo at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. As of Thursday, July 17, 2014, immigrant children caught crossing the Mexican border into Texas illegally and alone are no longer being sent to a massive Nogales facility. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

“I received word today that the Department of Health and Human Services is no longer seeking facilities for temporary shelters for refugee children from Central America at this time, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the 10th Congressional District.

“I trust HHS to make the right decisions about what facilities are best for the refugee children, but this situation will not simply go away because the children are not staying in our district. As we continue to experience this humanitarian crisis, I support providing emergency funding to provide adequate assistance to care for the children, as well as resources for proper immigration proceedings.

“We are a proud nation of immigrants, and I will continue to push for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.”

I was curious how this state would react if those kids did arrive. Would people protest their entry as they have in other cities? Or would they remember Washington’s proud history of welcoming people who flee danger in their native countries?

As Sunday’s guest column by former Washington Gov. Dan Evans made so clear, the U.S. has experienced its fair share of  immigration crises. He reminded readers that local churches and community groups responded in droves when the first wave of Vietnamese refugees arrived in the state after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Evans, a Republican, expressed his dismay with politicians of both parties who’ve failed to step up to what he views as their moral responsibility. He tells the story of one refugee couple in particular who rebuilt their lives from nothing, named one of their children Evans, and sent all six of their children on to college and successful careers:

The Nguyens are a stellar example of the success of our Vietnamese immigration program. Washington state has the third-largest Vietnamese population in the U.S., behind California and Texas. I’m exceedingly proud of the volunteer sponsors, support organizations and legislators who welcomed these productive new citizens to our state.

But that was 40 years ago. What should we do today about immigration?

First, receive the children fleeing from repression in Central America the same way we welcomed refugees from Vietnam 40 years ago.

Second, the U.S. House of Representatives should debate and pass its version of an immigration bill, which the U.S. Senate has already done. It is unconscionable to delay just because the issue is politically uncomfortable.

Then the House and Senate should meet promptly in conference to attempt to reach agreement on a comprehensive reform proposal.

Third, Congress should adopt rules that would allow highly educated foreign students to remain in the United States after graduating from U.S. colleges and universities, instead of requiring them to return home. These bright young graduates could help fill increasing worker shortages for high-tech jobs.

Fourth, our foreign-aid program should add a mini-Marshall Plan for Mexico and Central America. After World War II, the Marshall Plan reinvigorated a devastated Europe and helped immensely to create a peaceful and prosperous continent.

If the U.S. helped Central American nations build strong, free economies and working democracies, and treated Mexico as a true economic partner, the surge northward of desperate refugees would slow to a trickle. It would be an investment far more productive than a barbed wire-encrusted barrier that screams “STAY OUT.”

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Comments | Topics: border crisis, butch otter, dan evans

August 1, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Carrying on Lance Dickie’s legacy with school supply drive

Seattle Times editorial writer Lance Dickie retired Thursday. We will miss him. Not only was Lance a prolific and persuasive writer throughout his 26 years at the paper, his volunteerism and sense of compassion was the inspiration for the newspaper’s annual school-supply drive. Since 1999, this community effort has spared thousands of children the embarrassment of going…

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Comments | Topics: Lance Dickie, school supply drive

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