Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
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.
March 7, 2014 at 6:04 AM
One week after a Seattle City Council subcommittee‘s controversial and preliminary decision to limit ridesharing services to 150 drivers per network at any given time, Lyft, uberX and Sidecar have each come forward to reveal the number of drivers on their respective platforms.
During a Feb. 27 hearing, council members complained loudly that these companies were refusing to release that information. The city’s top officials have struggled for months to reach an agreement on how to legalize ridesharing, which has disrupted Seattle’s highly regulated taxi industry.
Now armed with a little more information, council members should revisit the cap number they proposed and at least raise the limit on the number of drivers from each company who can work at the same time.
A March 10 vote by the full council has been postponed until March 17.
On Friday afternoon, uberX sent out a press release revealing it “has 900 active drivers on its system. This number does not include drivers who have left the system or those awaiting background checks to join the system. That number also does not include UberBlack or UberSUV drivers.”
The service also said more than 300 drivers are active at any given time and continues to grow with demand. So if the city’s proposed legislation is passed, hundreds of drivers using their personal cars will lose the ability they currently enjoy to earn income through uberX.
Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger’s statement: (more…)
March 6, 2014 at 6:04 AM
Updated 3:31 p.m. on March 7:
Bills are moving through the Legislature quickly. I’ve revised information throughout this post, which was originally published Thursday morning. Check back after the weekend for more updates.
As the Washington Legislature nears its March 13 deadline, now is the time to track and review efforts to end sex trafficking.
Yes, this is a statewide crisis. In the Seattle-King County area alone, the most recent studies suggest hundreds of children as young as 11 years old are being sexually exploited for commercial purposes. Organizations such as the Center for Child & Youth Justice and YouthCare are building new models to identify and treat these sex workers as victims, not criminals.
Below, watch video of StolenYouth’s Jan. 29 forum at Town Hall to understand how advocates are responding to the problem.
This year in Olympia, lawmakers took up several measures to strengthen the state’s laws against trafficking. So far, two bills outlined below have passed both houses. Lawmakers should make sure several other measures get to the governor’s desk before time runs out. They must maintain the state’s position as a leader in combating sex trafficking through strong legislation.
Here’s a rundown of several bills related to sex trafficking and their status as of Wednesday: (more…)
March 4, 2014 at 6:11 AM
Opinion Northwest recently asked for readers’ thoughts on Congress’ failure so far to extend federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.
Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.
Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.
What happens to them now?
Scroll down to read some of their stories.
Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:
I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.
— Sharon Washburn, Yakima (more…)
February 26, 2014 at 6:24 AM
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates obesity rates have dropped among some toddlers, but the overall prevalence of the disease in kids and adults remains high.
Public health policies must continue to focus on prevention, especially among kids.
At the national level, First Lady Michelle Obama has fought hard to combat childhood obesity by launching the Let’s Move! campaign. She has appeared on Sesame Street and on late-night television numerous times to convince people of all ages to be active and to make healthful eating choices.
Here she is with Big Bird in the White House kitchen:
And here’s a hilarious (and highly effective) video encouraging Americans to be active, featuring the First Lady and “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in a segment called “Evolution of Mom Dancing”:
Obama makes exercise look fun and hip, but for many Americans— changing behavior is incredibly difficult.
Though this New York Times news story highlights a promising 43 percent drop in obesity among 2 and 5-year-old children over the last ten years, the CDC reported no significant reductions among other groups during that same period. (more…)
February 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM
In case you missed it, Monday’s editorial in The Seattle Times opinion section argues that a cap on ride-sharing services in Seattle does not improve consumer safety and kills an emerging business model. The board also supports lifting arbitrary caps on taxi, for-hire and ride-sharing vehicles.
Let the market determine how many vehicles should be on the road. Don’t limit growth. Focus on consumer safety.
Discussions on insurance gaps must continue in light of accidents involving ride-share drivers in other markets. Lyft has started a committee to find some clarity. Seattle leaders should join that effort.
Ride-sharing quickly gained a following because it keeps more cars off the road and gives drivers a chance to make a living with an asset they already own. Like the taxi industry, many drivers for these new services are immigrants. The council should beware of picking winners and losers.
Agree with this view or not, the editorial board would like to hear from you.
Vote in the poll below.
February 24, 2014 at 1:02 PM
Alice Herz-Sommer may not have set out to change minds, but her essence and love for the piano transcended time, politics and the horrors of Hitler’s concentration camps.
The world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor passed away over the weekend. What a life she lived. She won’t be remembered as a victim, but for her incredible sense of optimism.
“Every day in life is beautiful,” she would say. And she believed it, despite a life of profound suffering over the course of her 110 years, including the loss of her home in Prague, her parents and her husband after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.
I had not known about Herz-Sommer’s life story until Friday night, when I saw the Oscar-nominated documentary short film based on her life, “The Lady in Number 6.” Here’s a preview of this poignant meditation on survival, aging and music as salvation.
February 21, 2014 at 6:03 AM
The Seattle Times’ Monday editorial calling on Congress to extend unemployment benefits has received some heavy online traffic. Obviously, this issue hits a nerve for many of you out there who are searching for work or know someone who is. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:
In Washington state, at least 28,000 job-seekers so far have lost a critical financial lifeline. Many have put this money immediately into their local economies. It’s how they have afforded basic necessities such as rent, gas, groceries and utilities…
Without an extension, thousands more throughout Washington will continue to lose emergency federal assistance each week after their regular state benefits run out at 26 weeks.
Workers looking for jobs beyond that period now make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s unemployed population. There is an average of three applicants for every job opening.
There’s good reason for lawmakers to return from recess and re-start this debate. According to a January Quinnipiac University poll, 58 percent of respondents support continuing this financial lifeline for those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
Share your thoughts with us in the form below. (more…)
February 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM
My Thursday column on sex trafficking and the foster care system opened with a line about the number of wards running away from homes they’ve been placed in by the state.
Below are three charts that show the extent of the problem between January 2010 and March 2013. These graphs from Columbia Legal Services are from the last report compiled by the state Department of Social and Health Services for a now-defunct working group called Missing from Care.
1. How many kids under the care of the state run away each month? DSHS reported a low of 116 runaways in January 2010 and a high of 172 in April 2012.
February 14, 2014 at 7:23 AM
On Friday morning, the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations will meet (again) to discuss what to do with app-based transportation companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and UberX. The three-member panel had planned to vote on a draft proposal that would have capped the number of ridesharing vehicles that can operate citywide.
That’s good. It means the council can avert the risk of passing a bad policy and punishing innovation.
Probably helps that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray weighed in throughout the week to express his concerns about the pending legislation. He tweeted this on Thursday:
February 13, 2014 at 8:59 AM
When that fifth Olympic ring failed to open up during the opening ceremony in Sochi last Friday, I joked to a friend that someone was going to pay dearly for that mistake. The next day, a hoax story spread on the Internet that claimed the person in charge of that portion of the program was found dead. Though the story wasn’t true (as explained by Buzzfeed), it certainly fed a negative, western media-driven narrative that this year’s Winter Olympics are destined to be a disaster.
How many of you considered not watching the Sochi games? Tell us in the poll after the jump: