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Opinion Northwest

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

October 14, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Charts: Wake up and fund public health, prevention services

“When public health is effective, the public isn’t thinking about it,” says Metropolitan King County Council member Joe McDermott, head of the panel’s budget committee this year. It’s true. Prevention is not sexy. Fewer people care when the system works. However, the Ebola scare sweeping the world should be a wake-up call. Why wait for an…

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Comments | Topics: ebola, family planning, funding

October 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Poll: What should Woodland Park Zoo do with its two surviving elephants?

In case you missed Saturday’s editorial, The Seattle Times again called on the Woodland Park Zoo to release its elephants to a sanctuary. These creatures are loved. They are major attractions for visitors. But they are suffering where they are. Watoto’s death should force city leaders to reassess the future of the zoo’s pachyderm exhibit. Last week’s…

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Comments | Topics: elephants, watoto, woodland park zoo

October 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Microsoft CEO Nadella’s ‘wrong’ comments about women expose important truths

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s misguided advice to women might be “wrong,” but his comments were right on about the challenges women face in the workplace. Reactions to Nadella’s suggestion that women should trust the “system” and allow karma to usher in a better raise quickly dismissed him as completely off-base.  Nadella himself apologized and…

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Comments | Topics: Microsoft, Satya Nadell, women

October 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Plainclothes Seattle police chief makes the case for more uniformed officers

Sipping on a honey nut smoothie in a downtown cafe Thursday morning, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole didn’t act like the city’s top cop, or even dress the part.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole poses for a selfie with Seattle Times editorial writer Robert Vickers. (Robert Vickers / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole poses for a selfie with Seattle Times editorial writer Robert Vickers. (Robert Vickers / The Seattle Times)

O’Toole, who took over the embattled department in July, wore civilian clothes, spoke in hushed tones when she used the word “police,” and conversed with a personal ease atypical of law enforcement officials – all that while her department was heavily deployed to secure Vice President Joe Biden’s visit.

As if to drive home the point that she’s not an everyday police chief, O’Toole proposed a selfie when I asked for a photo.

What big city police chief does that?

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Comments | Topics: crime, downtown seattle, kathleen o'toole

October 9, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Denial won’t delay the inevitable, gay marriage is here to stay

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to deny several lower courts’ appeals to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage, effectively legalizing marriage equality in 25 states and counting. At a time when domestic violence is so common and horror stories like this murder-suicide in Indiana make me question why some people get married…

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Comments | Topics: butch otter, gay marriage, same-sex marriage

October 8, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Shaping Seattle’s understanding of Latinos through film

Many people in the Northwest tend to equate “Mexican” with “Latino,” but that’s a limited perspective. As a Mexican-American, I see that dynamic play out on a regular basis like when people think all Latinos wear sombreros and eat spicy food. Even so, many people have a superficial view of Mexican culture based on chips,…

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Comments | Topics: film festival, latinos, movies

October 7, 2014 at 6:07 AM

Dueling Columbus-Indigenous Peoples holidays obscure nuanced understanding of American history

Seattle City Council’s decision to commemorate the second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” will be tough for some Italian-Americans and U.S. traditionalists to accept.

Aiden Eaglespeaker, 11 months (hand on sign) and her mother Jennifer (left of Aiden) listen to discussions about changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day at a September 2014 Seattle City Council meeting. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Aiden Eaglespeaker, 11 months (hand on sign) and her mother Jennifer (left of Aiden) listen to discussions about changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day at a September 2014 Seattle City Council meeting. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

The date is already set aside as the federal holiday commemorating Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’ arrival in North America in 1492.

Even before the Catholic benevolent organization Knights of Columbus successfully lobbied for the holiday in 1934, celebration of Columbus’ arrival in the New World had been ritualized for generations in the U.S. to foment patriotism.

The holiday has also come to carry huge significance for many Italian-Americans, whose immigrant ancestors were greeted with hostility during their mass migration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Comments | Topics: columbus day, holidays, indigenous peoples' day

October 6, 2014 at 6:34 AM

Washington’s economy makes gains while household incomes were better off in 1999

Talking about the “good old days” often seems like a waste of time to me, but when looking at household incomes, it turns out the days past were actually better.

Fifteen years ago, households in Washington made more money: the state’s median household income dropped to $58,977 in 2013, an 8 percent decrease compared with $64,009 in 1999 (adjusted for inflation), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the same period, Washington’s per capita gross domestic product, which measures economic output based on population, rose to $54,654 per person in 2013 from $50,472 in 1999, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That represents an 8.3 percent increase with various fluctuations over the years.

The top chart shows how median household income for Washington residents has fluctuated since peaking in 1999.  The bottom chart shows how the rate changes year to year. SOURCE: WASHINGTON BUSINESS ALLIANCE.

The top chart shows how median household income for Washington residents has fluctuated since peaking in 1999. The bottom chart shows how the rate changes year to year. SOURCE: WASHINGTON BUSINESS ALLIANCE.

The point is that the state economy is doing better now than in 1999, but pocketbooks are not.

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Comments | Topics: economy, median household income, washington

October 6, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Hey Mr. President! Washington state has two good candidates for U.S. Attorney General

Rumblings from within the Beltway suggest that Washington State is getting short shrift as President Obama ruminates over who will replace Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general. Politico reported last week that Obama has narrowed the pool to former White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. But that shortlist…

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Comments | Topics: attorney general, barack obama, christine gregoire

October 3, 2014 at 6:05 AM

Washington lawmakers don’t need to use Hobby Lobby ruling to drum up votes

Months after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the controversial “Hobby Lobby” ruling allowing privately held corporations to deny payment for certain types of birth control for female employees, Washington lawmakers are finding ways to fight back. This is to be expected. Washington is one of the most progressive states on protecting reproductive rights. Just weeks before election day, some Democrats are using this issue as a strategy to put them back in control of the state Senate, led by the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus since 2012.

Voters should look deeper before they take the bait.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 2 at Bitter Lake Community Center, two blocks from a new Hobby Lobby store scheduled to open on Friday. Standing behind him, from left to right, are Democratic state Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Karen Keiser, Kevin Ranker, and David Frockt.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 2 at Bitter Lake Community Center, two blocks from a new Hobby Lobby store scheduled to open on Friday. Standing behind him, from left to right, are Democratic state Sens. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Karen Keiser, Kevin Ranker, and David Frockt. (Credit: Thanh Tan / The Seattle Times).

On Thursday, a group of Democratic lawmakers announced they are planning to file legislation — a “work-around” — next session to ensure employers do not deny women the full range of birth control options available to them through the Affordable Care Act. Joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sens. David Frockt, Kevin Ranker, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Karen Keiser said they are drafting a bill that would likely use the state’s anti-discrimination and Human Rights Commission rules.

The press event was staged at a community center two blocks from a Hobby Lobby store scheduled to open Friday in Seattle at 13200 Aurora Avenue North. Good to know they are doing their homework, but this was clearly also a bid to secure the women’s vote ahead of the November general election.

In a press release distributed to reporters, the Democrats warned their efforts to fight the Hobby Lobby decision might be hindered if they do not take back the majority in the upper chamber. In particular, they targeted Republican Sens. Andy Hill, Steve O’Ban and Democrat-turned-Republican candidate Mark Miloscia. If “elected or re-elected this year, it is unlikely that any progress on ensuring individual reproductive choices will be achieved,” they warned.

Again, voters should be skeptical. There’s no bill in place yet to be opposed, or supported, by members of either party.

Washington State has long supported a woman’s right to privacy and access when it comes to reproductive health care, including abortion care. Even before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1972, this HistoryLink story explains how Washington voters passed Referendum 20 in 1970 legalizing abortion in the early months of pregnancy. In 1991, voters passed Initiative 120, which guarantees that every “individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse birth control” and abortion (with few exceptions) and the “state shall not discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.”

If this were Texas, where I used to report on women’s health politics from AustinI’d say go all out. Fight the good fight. But it’s Washington, the friendliest state in the nation when it comes to reproductive freedom and lack of barriers to birth control and abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America gives the state an A+ grade for choice-related laws. We don’t have lawmakers demanding transvaginal ultrasounds, slashing family planning funds or passing policies to force abortion clinic closures. Vigilance is appreciated, but state legislators’ priority during the next session must be to tackle the other urgent task of preserving the state’s fragile social safety net and funding public education.

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Comments | Topics: abortion, birth control, hobby lobby

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