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Opinion Northwest

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

September 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Mayor Ed Murray should engage with Nickelsville and Little Saigon

Mayor Ed Murray is a man on a mission to make this city work, shepherding through legislation on contentious issues from raising the minimum wage to successfully pitching for a Seattle Park District and negotiating a compromise between ride-services and taxi drivers.

He could be even more effective by taking advantage of the opportunity before him to foster a positive, lasting relationship with the ethnic community in the Chinatown-International District. This is not the most politically active community in the traditional sense, but it could be.

A first step would be to listen to and address the concerns of Little Saigon business leaders, who are on their own as they figure out a culturally sensitive way to respond to Nickelsville’s move from the Central District to a temporary space at 1351 South Dearborn Street. The interim site was erected last week. Residents plan to move to nearby 1010 South Dearborn Street pending approval of a permit from the city.

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

A drive-by photo of the Nickelsville encampment at 1351 South Dearborn Street. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times published an editorial on Aug. 28 calling on the city to find shelter for the roughly 40 residents living in the Nickelsville homeless encampments.

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Comments | Topics: chinatown international district, homelessness

September 9, 2014 at 6:09 AM

NBA gaffe 2.0 may help Seattle get a team, but won’t improve race relations

Danny Ferry, Hawks President of Basketball Operations and GM

Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnny Crawford)

Seattle is stirring about another prospect for regaining professional basketball.

This time the inkling comes from Atlanta, where majority Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the NBA team after he acknowledged sending emails questioning the team’s economic viability because of its predominantly black fan base.

Specifically, Levenson worried that “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”

On the surface, it sounds just like former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling expressing a personal distaste for racial minorities. In response to the cultural backlash, the NBA forced Sterling to sell the team last month to Seattle businessman Steve Ballmer.

But Seattleites should resist the temptation to paint Levenson with the Sterling brush, no matter what affect it has on repatriating that NBA franchise.

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Comments | Topics: bruce levenson, donald sterling, hawks

September 5, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Reader responses to newcomers to Seattle: Most vulnerable Seattleites have reason to fear change

My recent editorial notebook and solicitation for experiences of new Seattle migrants produced an assortment of tales and, not surprisingly, a good dose of resentment.

Several readers replied emphatically to my suggestion that newcomers could contribute to the city’s growth with strong suggestions that I go back to where I came from. One email’s subject line summed up the sentiment: “Who asked you?”

“We aboriginals have loved and lived and appreciated what we have, just the way it was,” the email read. It finished: “Leave us alone,  we were doing just fine. Who says we want to evolve?”

A more thoughtful respondent boasted the following:

“Yes there’s a lot that can be made better, but not by you, who have no sense of place, people, or history. You have no investment, except perhaps financial, please take that investment with you and go.”

The authors may not have expected it, but I understand their reaction. Wherever this attitude surfaces, it usually comes from the most vulnerable with the most tenuous hold on an illusory stability.

Any change loosens their grasp on that already shaky stability, so it makes sense that any suggestion of change prompts fear.

When I said new arrivals could contribute to Seattle’s future – rather than be a drain on it – what some heard was that new arrivals “hate” Seattle and want to change what long-time residents cherish most about the city.

While Seattle certainly has an abundance of unique charms, it also has plenty to work on.

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Comments | Topics: Seattle

September 3, 2014 at 5:50 AM

McCleary showdown: Two messages from the Washington Supreme Court

Washington State Supreme Court (Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Washington State Supreme Court
(Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Latest Times coverage of Wednesday’s McCleary hearing: Court hears arguments in McCleary school-funding case.

As the McCleary case becomes a showdown Wednesday afternoon at the state Temple of Justice, reading the mood of the state Supreme Court isn’t easy.  There seem to be two messages coming from the court of late.

The first message is the tough-talking one the court has sent to the Legislature and the governor’s office, in its formal court orders. The other is unofficial – the kinder, gentler explanation justices have offered as they have met with The Seattle Times editorial board this election season. Washingtonians might hope the latter is true. 

The court is overseeing implementation of its decision in McCleary v. State of Washington, which held that the state needs to beef up spending on K-12 education by the 2017-18 school year. On Jan. 9, at a point when the state is about a quarter of the way to the goal, the court declared lawmakers hadn’t made enough progress, stepped up the schedule and said lawmakers needed to change their procrastinating ways. The court directed them to come up with the rest of the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar plan to fund the K-12 schools, pronto. Lawmakers balked.

So the court issued an equally high-handed order on June 12, demanding that the other two branches answer for their failure in court Wednesday at 2 p.m. Lawmakers are supposed to explain, among other things, why the court should not impose contempt sanctions, impose big fines, order the passage of specific bills, or shut down the school system entirely. This message seems to trample on the idea that the court is just one of three separate and roughly equal branches of government, each of which deserves a bit of leeway to do its job, and requires the respect of the other two.

Justices presented the argument rather differently as they passed through The Seattle Times offices for endorsement interviews. Four are up for election this year. Three of them say they want to remind lawmakers that time is running out — there are only three sessions left — and if hauling the governor and Legislature into court seems a bit harsh, it is the only way they can do it. “I honestly don’t think anybody really wants to see us create a constitutional crisis where the court oversteps its boundaries,” said Justice Mary Yu, who is running for a seat on the court after being appointed earlier this year. 

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Comments | Topics: mcleary, supreme court, Washington State Legislature

September 2, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Seattle’s new police chief is an empathetic multitasker, but far from naive

At a time of national hand-wringing over police use-of-force, things are calm in Seattle thanks in part to the city’s new top cop Kathleen O’Toole.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole (Photo by Ted S. Warren / AP)

Sworn in as Seattle’s first female police chief just two months ago, O’Toole immediately set out to not just build bridges with the city’s various

communities, but also with the department’s rank-and-file.

In her third day in office, she called on old contacts in Boston to help her open community channels here in Seattle. Those ties were so strong, she said, that some Boston associates flew to Seattle for her swearing-in.

“It’s the way I’ve always done business,” she said Wednesday during a wide-ranging, candid interview.

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Comments | Topics: consent decree, kathleen o'toole, seattle police

September 2, 2014 at 5:22 AM

Times poll: 84 percent support elephant-exhibit closure

The Seattle Times’ poll last week on the future of the Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant exhibit demonstrated overwhelming support for its closure – 84 percent – and perhaps even more telling, a high level of reader interest. Nearly 5,500 people responded to the Times’ poll by 5 p.m. Friday, an indication of the way the death of…

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August 27, 2014 at 6:04 AM

What it means for schools to lose control over Title I funds and No Child Left Behind waiver

No one should envy school district leaders right now. Many are in the process of sending letters to parents telling them their child’s school is failing to meet adequate yearly progress. Plus, they’ve lost control over a total of nearly $40 million in Title I funds used to help poor students improve reading and math…

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Comments | Topics: Education, nclb, waiver

August 26, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Lakeside basketball and Steve Ballmer, just the latest symptoms of a bigger problem

It’s bad enough that many college athletes are callously manipulated in the money-saturated world of intercollegiate athletics. Society considers young adults old enough to advocate for themselves.

But when high school teens – inexperienced in self-advocacy – are used in the same exploitative manner, something has fundamentally broken in American society’s basic educational promise to its children.

That broken promise was laid bare last week when Seattle Times reporter Mike Baker detailed how area billionaire Steve Ballmer created a foundation to recruit talented minority child basketball players to play for Lakeside School’s basketball team.

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Comments | Topics: basketball, Lakeside, Steve Ballmer

August 26, 2014 at 5:13 AM

Poll: Should Woodland Park Zoo send its elephants to a sanctuary?

When African elephant Watoto collapsed last week at the Woodland Park Zoo and had to be euthanized, her death reenergized  a long-running debate over elephant exhibition in rainy Seattle. Today The Times asks for your opinion. For years activists have contended that the exhibition of elephants is a matter of cruelty that can be considered separately from the…

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Comments | More in Polls | Topics: elephants, woodland park zoo

August 25, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Up, up and away! – first Superman comic sells for $3.2 million

Federal Way comic dealer Darren Adams now can boast – he really does own the world’s most valuable comic book. For a short time, anyway, until payment arrives and his pristine copy of Action Comics No. 1 goes to a new owner. In a much-watched auction on eBay Sunday night, Adams’ copy of the most desirable…

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