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Opinion Northwest

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

Category: Uncategorized
February 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Prevent Washington’s foster kids from running away

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.

Source: DSHS Children's Administration

Source: DSHS Children’s Administration

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0 Comments | Topics: Dave Reichert, dshs, foster care

February 18, 2014 at 6:25 AM

How the death penalty can bankrupt a county

At a meeting of Washington state county administrators last year, Jim Jones said one budget-busting scenario provoked the biggest wave of anxiety among the budget officers: a death penalty murder prosecution.

Jones, the Clallam County administrator and then-president of the Washington County Administrative Association, told me that five counties said the same thing: “If we had a death penalty case, and had to pay $1 million (in legal costs), we’d go bankrupt.”county death penalty

In an editorial calling for the repeal of the death penalty, The Seattle Times editorial board cited the enormous cost of capital punishment. Counties, with the duty of paying for courts, front much of the cost. The most comprehensive study comparing the cost of death and non-death sentence murder cases estimated the difference at $1 million – including the costs of lifetime incarceration. Counties have to pay for multiple top-end, death-penalty-qualified lawyers, experts, investigations and trials that stretch weeks, if not months.

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0 Comments | Topics: criminal justice, death penalty, politics

February 14, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Seattle City Council postpones tough vote on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar

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:

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0 Comments | Topics: lyft, ridesharing, Seattle City Council

February 13, 2014 at 8:59 AM

Poll: Are you watching the Sochi Olympics?

In this second in a sequence of four images, one second after the previous one, Russian President Vladimir Putin waits in the presidential lounge to be introduced at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Behind him, a TV screen shows four of the Olympic rings almost fully open at the start of the ceremony, while the fifth ring remains closed. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin waits in the presidential lounge to be introduced at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Behind him, a TV screen shows four of the Olympic rings almost fully open at the start of the ceremony, while the fifth ring remains closed. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool)

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:

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0 Comments | Topics: figure skating, human rights, jesse owens

February 12, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Bertha the blues — the South Lake Union tusk

Joe Wells found the tusk while Transit Plumbing was excavating on a project for Rafn Company. (Photo from Jeff Estep / Transit Plumbing)

Speculation abounds the mammoth tusk found at a South Lake Union construction site is a remnant of a prehistoric tunneling project. This would take a lot of pressure off a contemporary cousin, that white elephant Bertha.

Modern digital analysis — finger pointing between the contractor and government agencies — lays the blame on a big steel pipe or a rock  that did not come up in earlier chats. Tsk, tsk.

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0 Comments | Topics: alaskan way viaduct, Bertha, Ice Age

February 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Yes, another attaboy for KIRO’s Steve Raible

Steve Raible (John Lok/Times photo)

Steve Raible
(John Lok/Times photo)

The NFL season is over, the Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champs, but everyone is still talking about the parade through downtown Seattle.
Steve Raible, the popular play-by-play announcer for the Hawks, was a favorite with the – what was it, two million? – fans who turned out in the frigid weather to cheer the team.

My gratitude and appreciation for Raible goes back to Jan. 19 and the NFC Championship between the Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. Seemingly minutes and one field goal into the game, the electrical power went out in my neighborhood and lots of others in North King County. (Expletives deleted.)

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February 11, 2014 at 8:27 AM

North Korea claims Kenneth Bae not a political pawn? Prove it

North Korean officials said months ago that American prisoner Kenneth Bae would not be used as a political pawn. Their latest action suggests they’ve changed their mind.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Sunday that North Korean officials had rescinded a second invitation for a special American envoy to fly to Pyongyang to meet with Bae. According to this Associated Press news story, the cancellation “signals an apparent protest of upcoming annual military drills between Washington and Seoul and an alleged mobilization of U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers during training near the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls the planned drills a rehearsal for invasion, a claim the allies deny.”

North Korean leaders would be wise to let Bae — imprisoned for 15 months now — return to his family before his health deteriorates any further. Bae is not a public official or representative of the U.S. government. He entered the country numerous times as a tour operator before he was detained in November 2012. He is a father, husband, son and brother, and a man of faith who has apologized (possibly under duress) to the North Korean regime for whatever crimes they claim he committed.

The Seattle Times editorial board has published numerous editorials in support of a humanitarian release for Bae. Below is video of CNN’s social media campaign, launched last Friday, to raise awareness about Bae’s plight.

The former Lynnwood resident’s family says he has been transferred from a hospital back into a labor camp to  continue a 15-year sentence. Here’s an excerpt of their latest public statement:

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0 Comments | Topics: kenneth bae, north korea, state department

February 11, 2014 at 6:25 AM

How to get bankers to pay to reduce prison recidivism

The notion of inviting venture capitalists into the state human services system sounds, I’ll admit, a bit creepy. When I heard that notion was floating around the 2014 Legislature, my thoughts went to the private prison industry and its dismal race-to-the-bottom practices.

MA pay for success

Pay For Success project (Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts)

But as Tuesday’s Seattle Times editorial suggests, the notion, in HB 2337, deserves a second look. So-called “social impact bonds” are racing around public-policy circles, embraced by the left (the Center for American Progress write-up) and from the libertarian right (Reason Foundation’s write up).

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0 Comments | Topics: legislature, nonprofits, prison

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