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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
October 31, 2014 at 6:16 AM

Remembering what skulls really stand for on Halloween

Corrected version

I see skulls everywhere: from lawns decorated for Halloween to pajama pants and dog sweaters. Somehow, an image that used to stand for death, motorcycle gangs and pirates evolved into a symbol of cuteness much like Hello Kitty.

Two major days for skulls or calaveras, the Mexican version, have arrived with Halloween and Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. The cute-washing of skull imagery, however, strips away the symbolism and deeper meaning of recognizing, honoring and mourning the dead.

Halloween started out as a precursor to All Saints Day, a Catholic day of obligation on Nov. 1 that precedes All Souls Day on Nov. 2. Halloween morphed from a vigil for dead saints and souls into costume parties and candy binges for kids.

Barra Fuera Verde, the Latino fan club of the Seattle Sounders professional soccer team, uses a calavera in its logos and images. (Source: Barra Fuerza Verde)

Barra Fuera Verde, the Latino fan club of the Seattle Sounders professional soccer team, uses a calavera in its logos and images. (Source: Barra Fuerza Verde)

Dia de los Muertos looms close to meeting the same fate.

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October 31, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Ebola aid workers can’t be trusted

Corrected version

Whatever tattered remnants that were left of American health care workers’ benevolent image is now gone.

Nurse Kaci Hickox leaves her home on a rural road in Fort Kent, Maine, to take a bike ride with her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  The couple went on an hour-long ride followed by a Maine State Trooper.  State officials are going to court to keep Hickox in quarantine for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10. Police are monitoring her, but can't detain her without a court order signed by a judge. (AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

Nurse Kaci Hickox leaves her home on a rural road in Fort Kent, Maine, to take a bike ride with her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. (AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

They can thank Kaci Hickox for that.

The Maine nurse, who heroically spent a month treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, has undone her noble act of charity with a defiant, in-your-face flouting of the voluntary, 21-day self-quarantine that several states have adopted for aid workers returning from the stricken nations of West Africa.

By refusing to abide by the quarantine – she took an unsanctioned bike ride Thursday – Hickox has dispatched the iconic image of emotive nurses and selfless physicians, replacing them with an all-too-believable caricature of arrogant caregivers and jerk doctors.

Farewell Florence Nightingale.

Hello Nurse Ratched.

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Comments | Topics: craig spencer, ebola, kaci hickox

October 30, 2014 at 6:21 AM

Should college athletes be paid for performance?

Husky linebacker John Timu celebrates a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown. What was that play worth?

Husky linebacker John Timu celebrates a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown. What was that play worth? (Photo by Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

The Pac-12 this week held itself out as the most progressive big athletic conference in the country in passing a suite of reforms of the increasingly criticized “student-athlete” model.

Here’s what progressive reforms look like: guaranteed 4-year scholarships for athletes, and an ability to tap the scholarship later if they leave before graduation; reimbursed medical expenses for on-the-field injuries up to four years after leaving school; liberalized transfers within Pac-12 schools; and a seat at the Pac-12 governance table.

It’s hard to argue with any of these, although it is surprising they’re new in a conference and at institutions that reap tens of millions from the athletes’ performances. Washington State University President Elson Floyd, who chairs the Pac-12 CEO group, said the conference is working on “the total cost of attendance.” That term of art refers to the gap between an athlete’s scholarship and the out-of-pocket costs, estimated to be an average of $3,500 per athlete.

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Comments | Topics: college athletes, football, NCAA

October 28, 2014 at 6:03 AM

U.S. Ebola workers should self-quarantine before coming home

There’s something completely more frightening about a doctor coming down with Ebola than someone from the general public.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) speaks, as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (R) listens, during a news conference on the status of Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer and New York's new Ebola policies October 26, 2014.  (EPA / JASON SZENES)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (L) speaks, as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (R) listens, during a news conference on the status of Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer and New York’s new Ebola policies October 26, 2014. (Jason Szenes / EPA)

More than anyone else, physicians know how to protect themselves from deadly contagions. That’s why the latest case of Ebola in America is so troubling.

About a week ago, New York Dr. Craig Spencer returned to his home in the most populous city in America after spending a month treating patients of the contagious killer in Guinea.

You’d think that someone whose occupational ethos is “first, do no harm” would take extraordinary precautions. Instead, Spencer followed existing protocols, answering airport questionnaires and registering his possible exposure with U.S. immigration and health officials when he returned to the only American metropolitan area with 20 million inhabitants.

Once home, he monitored his temperature twice a day for any change. That change came Thursday. He notified local health officials of his worsening condition, and was whisked into isolated care.

I’m no epidemic chicken little, but monitoring and testing for infection after entry to the U.S. seems too passive and reactive a policy for an active epidemic killer.

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Comments | Topics: ebola

October 27, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Just say ‘no’ to excessive demands for school fundraising

Student leaders at Garfield High School protested the loss of one teacher. Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

Student leaders at Garfield High School protested the loss of one teacher. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

During my sophomore year in high school, I raised more than $1,000 to pay for about half of a trip to visit Japan as part of a cultural exchange program.

After numerous car washes and selling candy bars to classmates, I learned that fundraising isn’t easy. Even though I had a part-time job, neither I nor my family could have covered the cost of the entire trip out-of-pocket.

Raising money for something extracurricular like, say, a visit to Japan, makes sense for public schools, but raising money to pay teachers’ salaries or basic school necessities is extremely troubling.

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Comments | Topics: Education, fundraising, school budgets

October 27, 2014 at 6:03 AM

DUI attorney PAC shows why Halloween and Election Day go hand-in-ghoulish-hand

It’s no small matter that the final stretch before Election Day comes in the build-up to, and afterglow of, Halloween.

What other holiday more accurately reflects the spirit of American elections than the ghoulish, netherworldly exaltation of All Hallows Eve?

And like the most terrifying haunted house, the dark arts of campaign politics are not for the faint of heart.

A common spooky campaign practice I’ve noticed is to put a candidate with the same name as an incumbent on the ballot. The fake candidate will invariably siphon some of the incumbents’ electoral support, thereby increasing the chances of the opponent.

It doesn’t always work, but it’ll always scare the hell out of an incumbent.

Until recently, those kinds of shenanigans rarely found their way into judicial campaigns. Typically those contests operated above the common fray of Philistine behavior, deceptive ads and big money.

But now, even judicial elections are subject to eerie campaign tactics.

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Comments | Topics: citizens for judicial exellence, elections, judicial elections

October 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM

What happened to all the legal marijuana stores in Seattle?

Click the image to view an interactive map showing marijuana revenue by city since July 1.

Click the image to view an interactive map showing marijuana revenue by city since July 1.

Corrected version

“You know what’s really been successful because of Initiative 502? The black market.”

That a tough assessment, because it is exactly the opposite of what Initiative 502, the 2012 marijuana legalization measure, was supposed to do. And it’s particularly tough because it comes from a frustrated Alex Cooley, a successful but straight-arrow marijuana grower (I profiled him in a column last year) who both supported I-502 and has multiple I-502 licenses for growing and processing.

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Comments | Topics: liquor control board, marijuana, pot

October 23, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Bob Barker to Woodland Park Zoo elephants Bamboo and Chai: Come on down (to a sanctuary)!

When Mayor Ed Murray delivers his proposed budget Thursday evening at Seattle City Hall, he won’t be able to miss the elephant (advocates) in the room.

Members of the Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants issued a press release Thursday announcing plans to pack the 5:30 p.m. meeting. They’ll “urge City Council members to withhold funding from Woodland Park Zoo until the Zoo’s two surviving elephants are retired to a sanctuary.” The mayor’s budget blueprint reportedly includes $7 million in taxpayer funding for the Woodland Park Zoo.

The Seattle Times editorial board, the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are among the institutions that have advocated for sending Bamboo and Chai to a sanctuary where they can live out their days in a warmer climate and with more space to move around. The Woodland Park Zoo’s third elephant, Watoto, was euthanized in August after she fell and could not get up. As of 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, here’s the (very unscientific) results of an Oct. 13 Opinion Northwest poll asking readers what should happen to the two remaining elephants:

(Screenshot of poll featured in Oct. 13 Opinion Northwest blog post.)

(Screenshot of poll featured in Oct. 13 Opinion Northwest blog post.)

Murray and a few council members have indicated they are ready to take another look at the plight of the zoo’s elephant exhibit. Perhaps they need another strong nudge to move faster. Ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Friends co-founder and elephant advocate Alyne Fortgang emailed me a Sept. 30 letter from “The Price is Right” host and animal rights activist Bob Barker to zoo and city leaders. Here’s what that letter states:  

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Comments | Topics: bob barker, elephants, woodland park zoo

October 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Washington Supreme Court should not dismiss Backpage.com case

Just because no case law yet holds Backpage.com responsible for exploiting children, that does not mean the classified ad site should always be immune from liability. The fact is Backpage.com and other sites like it create an environment where pimps can easily post ads every night selling girls (and boys) for commercial sex work.  They do…

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Comments | Topics: backpage, backpage.com, national center for missing and exploited children

October 22, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Seattle preschool Proposition 1B’s consensus, and the alternative’s problems

The Seattle Preschool Program —  known as Proposition 1B on the Nov. 4 ballot —  is racking up endorsements. The King County Labor Council, El Centro De La Raza, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and many other groups are on board.  You also have a rare consensus of Seattle’s media organizations, including the centrist Seattle Times editorial board, the left-leaning Publicola,  The Stranger, and even tipped-over-off-the-left-o-sphere blogger David Goldstein.

All say voters should pass Seattle Proposition 1B.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

The unanimity forms around the simple idea that it’s time to get moving on universal, high-quality prekindergarten education. A pair of the nation’s leading pre-K researchers laid out the research behind 1B in a recent Seattle Times guest column. If you missed it, read it.

Understanding the unanimity is important because there’s a competing measure, Proposition 1A, on the ballot. Only one can pass. It’s either-or. Prop. 1A does not create a citywide preschool program. It does not have any way to fund its child-care teacher training enhancements.

And it’s a budget-buster for the city.

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Comments | Topics: city council, endorsements, november election

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