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Opinion Northwest

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

Category: Discussion
January 16, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Seattle-Green Bay smack talk: Columnists face off about who has the cultural edge

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

From the gridiron to the newsroom, we can’t get Sunday’s big game — the NFC Championship Game pitting the Seahawks against Green Bay — off our minds. Here, Seattle Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnists go head-to-head to prove which region is better — off the field.

Which city and state do you think is better? Add to the smack talk in the comments.

Put down your beers and find some taste

HIGGINS - SEATTLE - 12/18/2014This is that special time of year when Green Bay’s infatuation with its storied football team allows residents there to actually forget where they live.

If you don’t know Green Bay, Wis., think of it as Everett without the charm, and caked in dirty slush.

When Seattle brags about building the world’s best jetliners, Green Bay persists on being known as the “toilet paper capital of the world” because, you know, it invented splinter-free toilet paper.

To be fair, Seattle fans hold a


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: David Haynes, Green Bay Packers, Mark Higgins

December 10, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Participate in a video chat on the recreational and medical marijuana markets

Readers learned last Sunday in a Times editorial how easy it is to get medical marijuana in Washington — without medical authorization. Is this what voters thought the market would look like when they legalized marijuana?

Join panelists in a live video discussion in this post Thursday at noon about the competing medical and recreational markets. Panelists include:


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: David Mendoza, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, John Schochet

September 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Conversation starter: What would you ask state candidates?

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Get ready for the barrage of candidates and campaign information heading toward your doorstep.

Since May, throughout the state, legislative candidates have been doorbelling, speaking at rallies, riding in parades, glad-handing at fairs, meeting with newspaper editorial boards. The Seattle Times editorial board continues to publish its recommendations for voters to consider when they cast their ballots.

But voters themselves can find plenty of opportunity to ask candidates about important topics. The Times editorial board has published its suggestions voters can ask, along with explanations of why they are important.

What would you ask candidates, given the chance? What would you say they need to focus on? Why? Leave your comment in the form below and it might be featured in print and online in the next week.


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: candidates, Conversation Starter, legislature

June 26, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Who represents Washington state in the U.S. Statuary Hall?

U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall: who’s missing? (Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol) Marcus Whitman: doctor, missionary and stud. (Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol) In the National Statuary Hall version of “The Bachelor,” Marcus Whitman would be a big winner. As depicted by his statue, the missionary doctor from Walla Walla had rippled thighs, a…


Comments | Topics: history, washington state

April 14, 2014 at 6:21 AM

Forum: The gender pay gap is real. Have you been affected?

The wage gap between men and women is pervasive. Whether the national average difference is 77 percent, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, or 84 percent, according to the Pew Research Center, male employees still have an advantage.

That’s just wrong. Women deserve equal pay for doing the same work as their male peers and an equal shot at climbing up the success ladder.

The gap has closed over the years, but as Pew notes in the video below, progress is slowing down. Take a look:

Have you personally experienced pay inequities in your career? What do you think is the cause of this? Do you have ideas for solutions to close the gap? Scroll down to the form at the end of this post and tell us.

First, take a look at Saturday’s Seattle Times editorial supporting the city’s efforts to close inequities within its own ranks. The narrative is a familiar one. Many lower-wage jobs tend to be held by women, while most of the higher-paying jobs and leadership positions are held by men.

The same trends apply nationwide. The current system limits upward mobility, but there’s hope for change as employers start to analyze the root causes of pay inequity, women continue to outpace men in earning college degrees and bosses allow more flexible hours.

Alas, many of us demand changes now and lament the reasons why inequities persist in this post-“Mad Men” world.

Here’s a few reasons, culled from various news reports:


Comments | Topics: city of seattle, discrimination, gap

March 18, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Poll: Do you agree with Seattle City Council’s decision to limit Lyft, uberX and Sidecar?

No big surprises with the Seattle City Council’s unanimous decision on Monday to cap technology-based ride-services such as Lyft, uberX and Sidecar. The council passed a two-year pilot program to legalize and limit each network to 150 drivers at any given time, and to raise the number of taxi licenses by 200 over the next two years. (Read Seattle Times reporter Alexa Vaughn’s news side story.)

Taxi driver Benyam Hailu holds a sign as he waits for a meeting of the Seattle City Council to begin, Monday, March 17, 2014 in Seattle. The Council was voting on rules and regulations that have pitted supporters of ride-share and other non-traditional transportation companies against taxi and for-hire drivers and operators. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Taxi driver Benyam Hailu holds a sign as he waits for a meeting of the Seattle City Council to begin, Monday, March 17, 2014 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As The Seattle Times editorial board argued in this March 14 editorial, the city should have focused less on caps — for both taxis and ride-services — and more on consumer safety and leveling the playing field for all drivers. Increased competition has improved customer service over the last year, and it would be a shame to see ride-services cut back services in a city where people are driving less and demanding more affordable transportation options.

The other takeaway? This likely becomes a political issue in the next city council election cycle. See Uber Seattle’s tweet after the vote, which was retweeted at least 100 times as of Monday evening.

Before Mayor Ed Murray signs Council Bill 118036, he should also consider convening a panel to review and revamp the city’s antiquated taxi regulations. In a timely statement released after the vote, Murray indicated he plans to get more involved:

“As Mayor, I will direct my staff and the Facilities and Administrative Services Department Director to engage stakeholders and experts outside of City government in further discussions. Based on these discussions, I then plan to submit to Council my own recommendations to both ensure customer safety and improve customer choice while leveling the playing field for all industry players.”

This entire process has put Seattle in the spotlight because its city council is the first in the nation to limit the growth of a wildly popular service. Hopefully, Lyft, uberX and Sidecar officials learned along the way that they must release data much sooner and develop better relations with the council. Several elected members showed a willingness to revisit the cap in the future, but not until the market has time to adjust and the networks agree to be more transparent about their insurance policies.

Below the poll and forum, look for a sampling of reactions from the council members.

Do you agree with the council’s decision? Vote in the poll below. 


Comments | More in Discussion, Polls | Topics: lyft, ride-services, ridesharing

December 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Reader responses to Seattle ridesharing proposal

Thanks to our readers for your thoughtful and interesting comments in response to the Seattle City Council’s draft plan to regulate app-powered ridesharing services in Seattle, such as uberX, Lyft and Sidecar.

A member of the public speaks before the Seattle City Council's Committee on Taxi, For-hire and Limousine Regulatiion on Dec. 13, 2013 at City Hall Council Chambers. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

A member of the public speaks before the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-hire and Limousine Regulations on Dec. 13, 2013 at City Hall. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

In this Monday Opinion Northwest post, I argued that the city’s proposed efforts to regulate these popular new services using old-school standards punish innovation and do not increase consumer safety or choice. The council is considering whether to limit each of these ridesharing networks to 100 vehicles and many drivers to 16 hours per week. A vote is expected sometime early next year, so now is the time for a robust public discussion.

Here’s what some of you have to say about whether and how ridesharing should be regulated:

Absolutely. In an effort to live according to our environmental and urbanist values, my wife and I got rid of our car a year ago. We walk, ride our bikes, take the bus and use a number of ridesharing services to get around town. We rarely use traditional taxis because they are unreliable, especially when you need them most (i.e. rainy weather) and the service is usually not very good. Just try paying with a credit card and the driver has to run your card through an old-school carbon-copy machine. It’s like returning to last century. In contrast, the rideshare services have much better service (just ask the drivers how they like their jobs), are more convenient and are available when you need them most because of pricing that responds to demand.

By stifling these innovations, it becomes harder for people to become less dependent on cars, which contributes to the ongoing cycle of ever-increasing traffic congestion. Seattle thinks of itself as a city that embraces innovation and forward thinking. However, on this issue, our City Council is way behind.

— Gabriel Grant, Seattle

No. All this does is hurt the taxi and for-hire drivers who have worked hard to play by the rules. The stated demand is simply for a cheaper service. These new companies aren’t modeled on providing a cheaper service on a level playing field, they simply pick off the taxis’ best fares and do so without licensing fees, safety or insurance standards. This isn’t a new market segment against the established taxis, it’s the black market versus the law-abiding market.

Level the playing field. The current proposal is TOO lenient on these illegal black market rideshare companies.

— Pat Flanagan, Seattle


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: lyft, rideshare, Seattle

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