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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.

July 24, 2014 at 6:11 AM

Proposition 1 enrages, divides Seattle parks supporters

An increasingly fierce debate over Proposition 1, the Aug. 5 ballot measure that would create a Seattle Park District, is pitting parks supporters against one another.  This diverse group agrees parks are valuable. They just disagree on exactly how to fund them.

Tensions flared after Mayor Ed Murray hosted a press conference on Monday in support of the Yes on 1 campaign. As PubliCola reports, the event turned into an unruly spectacle. See the tweet below by KOMO TV Reporter Gaard Swanson.

A few citizens who support parks but oppose Prop. 1 called and emailed this week to say they did not intend to cause problems or raise their voices until they heard city leaders at the press conference accuse them of being anti-parks and likening them to members of the Tea Party movement. (Some said they are proud liberals who just disagree with this particular issue.)

The Seattle Times opposes Prop 1, and published an editorial Wednesday arguing it is not the only option to save parks. The League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County urge a ‘no’ vote because its members take issue with Prop. 1′s proposed governance model, which replaces the current parks levy with a new taxing district overseen by the Seattle City Council.

The Municipal League of King County recently came out with a ‘yes’ recommendation, though it noted that “as a matter of good governance, parks operations should be funded through the City’s General Fund. The Municipal League believes a YES vote is the best practical measure available for addressing parks funding shortfalls, but is concerned that approving this measure will result in a continued practice of reducing allocations for essential city services from the General Fund.”

What do readers think? Opinion Northwest featured several viewpoints in a previous post. Additional responses since then have been equally thoughtful and civil. Whether you’re decided or confused about this issue, scroll down to get a sense of why some voters are so fired up about Prop. 1.

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Comments | Topics: august primary, prop 1, Seattle

July 23, 2014 at 6:02 AM

School supply drive update: Workplace giving helps students in need

In Wednesday’s opinion section, the editorial board shined a spotlight on Hopelink, one of the three beneficiaries of The Seattle Times’ annual school supply drive.

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics, which is hosting a school supply drive to benefit Hopelink's Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond, which is hosting a drive to benefit Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

This year, Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign is trying to collect enough tools of learning to assist at least 2,000 students. One way readers can help is to simply make a donation through the Times’ Fund for the Needy. A sturdy backpack filled with the basics costs about $40.

Another way to assist Hopelink, which reaches families through its service centers in north and east King County, is by hosting a workplace or community supply drive. The organization is requesting donations be dropped off at any of its service centers by Aug. 1 so that volunteers have a few weeks to sort and stuff backpacks before the new school year begins.

On Tuesday, Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond showed me how they are working with Hopelink to collect back-to-school supplies.

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Comments | Topics: eastside, poverty, school supply drive

July 18, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Legal representation for unaccompanied minors at border

The humanitarian and refugee crisis involving migrant children now extends far beyond the border states.

As of Friday morning, Joint Base Lewis-McChord remains on a federal shortlist of military bases that might become a host site for some of the more than 54,000 migrant children caught entering the U.S. illegally since October.

If they come to the local base, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must follow through with its promise on Wednesday to provide appropriate resources to help these children remain safe as they await hearings to determine their legal status. (In a Thursday Opinion Northwest blog post, I argued that many of these children likely qualify for refugee or asylum status.)

Here’s something to keep in mind: the government could expedite the process by providing more legal representation for these children.

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Comments | Topics: border crisis, immigrant children, jblm

July 16, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Readers react to Seattle Park District measure

Corrected version A call-out last week for readers to tell us how they would fund Seattle’s expansive parks system so far has generated more than a dozen thoughtful responses. Highlights from some of those comments are featured below. The Seattle Times editorial board recently advocated voting against Proposition 1, known as the Seattle Park District measure on…

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Comments | Topics: august primary, election, metropolitan park district

July 10, 2014 at 6:04 AM

A ‘no’ vote on Prop. 1 will not destroy Seattle parks

A bicyclist rides around the north end of Green Lake Park early on a fall morning. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

What happens if voters don’t pass Proposition 1 on the Aug. 5 ballot? Contrary to supporters’ claims, Seattle parks won’t be doomed. Citizens might even get a chance to vote on a better measure in a future election.

Parks enthusiasts (myself included) shouldn’t be bamboozled into thinking the formation of a metropolitan park district within city limits – operated and led by the Seattle City Council — is the only way to fix a daunting $270 million maintenance backlog.

As The Seattle Times makes clear in Wednesday’s editorial, parks definitely deserve some TLC. But the board joins the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County and the pro-parks/anti-Prop. 1 citizen group Our Parks Forever in opposing the proposed taxing authority outlined in Prop. 1.

Preserving parks is critical to quality of life and public health. The mayor and council members are understandably eager to create dedicated parks funding and free up room in limited levy capacity for other worthy programs, such as universal preschool. But they have failed to make a case for a Seattle Park District that gives elected officials so much additional, unfettered power to tax and spend.

By rejecting Proposition 1, voters send a strong message to city leadership: We love parks, but return with a levy or alternate measure that prioritizes park needs, holds officials more accountable and preserves citizen participation.

Three questions to keep in mind before you check off that ballot:

1. If everyone loves parks and levies pass so easily, what’s the big deal with forming a metropolitan park district?

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Comments | Topics: august primary, metropolitan park district, prop 1

July 4, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Three easy ways to help students in need of school supplies

Celebrate Independence Day in a meaningful way by supporting The Seattle Times’ School Supply Drive. Friday’s editorial kicks off the newspaper’s annual effort to collect funds to assist three local nonprofits in their efforts to get backpacks filled with pencils and paper to children from poor and homeless families. Here are three easy ways to get involved. 1. Join…

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Comments | Topics: fund for the needy, school supply drive, seattle times

July 3, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Make birth control pills available over the counter

This week’s Supreme Court decision favoring Hobby Lobby’s religious rights over the ability of its employees to access a full range of birth control options is a bad one, but it’s also a catalyst for change.

Supporters of employer-paid birth control rally in front of the Supreme Court before the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Supporters of employer-paid birth control rally in front of the Supreme Court before the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One way to get around the politics of the Affordable Care Act is to make birth control as accessible and affordable as possible to all women, regardless of whether they have insurance coverage.

As Vox reported on Monday, some Republicans are now in favor of taking birth control out of the insurance arena and making it available to women over the counter. Reproductive health experts have been studying and advocating this approach for a long time. The Seattle Times published an editorial in December 2012 that encouraged the FDA to consider the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) recommendation to provide oral contraceptives (aka the pill) to women without a prescription.

Here’s an excerpt:

Many women cannot afford the cost of birth control or the doctor’s visit necessary to access the different methods sold on the market.

One consequence is that half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to the ACOG. That figure hasn’t changed in 20 years…

Other forms of contraceptives, including intrauterine devices and shots, are not part of this equation. But after decades of study, birth-control pills have proved to be a common, cost-effective method for many.

No drug is without risk, not even aspirin. Do we trust women to follow instructions? Are they capable of detecting adverse side effects and seeking help if they need it? The ACOG’s decision was based on evidence that suggests they are.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, hobby lobby

June 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Patty Murray walks her way to political compromise; Obama and Boehner should do the same

As you can see in the photos below, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., likes to walk and talk and negotiate with Republicans. These are more or less photo ops, but they send a powerful message to the people: Politics involves negotiations, guts and old-fashioned getting along.  I can’t think of another Democrat who has had…

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Comments | Topics: boehner, compromise, congress

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