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Opinion Northwest

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

November 13, 2014 at 6:04 AM

King County Council wisely steps up to save public health, women’s health services

Hats off to the King County Council for unveiling a proposed 2015-2016 budget this week that keeps the county’s 10 public health clinics open — at least for now.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

“The council recognized the importance of these services, especially maternity support services and the [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children] that are unique to the county and that others don’t provide,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.

Faced with a $15 million annual shortfall, Public Health — Seattle & King County has been scrambling to find partners to take over some or all of the direct services provided at its clinics, including primary care, family planning, maternity support and supplemental nutrition for infants. An Oct. 30 Seattle Times editorial commended efforts by cities and local health care partners to keep sites open in Federal Way and White Center. Public health employees even agreed to wage concessions, but it wasn’t enough to close the funding gap.

Before this week’s announcement, two sites were slated for closure in January — the Northshore Public Health Center in Bothell and the more heavily-used Auburn Public Health Clinic. (I profiled one of the clinic’s patients in a Nov. 3 blog post.) Last week, I followed up on a community effort to save the Auburn site, which included pledges from various groups totaling about $700,000. That amount fell short of the $1.6 million needed to prevent closure.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, king county, public health

November 12, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Why Washingtonians should care more about trade

Most people don’t think much about trade. Sure, we all know the goods we buy at the store had to come from somewhere, but do most people stop and think about where that somewhere is or how the movement happened? Probably not often.

I spent several hours Monday hearing from a variety of experts, business executives and politicians (including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray), discuss the role of trade in Washington and how to strengthen what is a vital industry in the state. The Washington Trade Conference pulled together a few hundred people who care, and know, a lot about trade.

A container ship entering the Port of Seattle. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

A container ship entering the Port of Seattle. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Let’s face it, trade isn’t the most riveting topic. But, here is a juicy tidbit gleaned from the conference: In Washington, about 40 percent of jobs are related to trade. That means close to 850,000 jobs in the state involve production of goods from apples to airplanes as well as transportation, handling and shipping of goods to other states or countries.

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Comments | Topics: jobs, Port of Seattle, trade

November 11, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Lighting Seattle’s Green Lake park for safety

    The 2.8-mile paved trail around Green Lake makes it Seattle’s most-used park. But in the low-light winter months of the sun-deprived Pacific Northwest, the trail, which is not lighted, is dark for up to 15 hours a day. I was reminded how dark the trail gets from dusk til dawn when my wife, a frequent Green Lake runner, came across…

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November 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM

A sweet and long-awaited homecoming for Kenneth Bae

This photo of Kenneth Bae greeting his mother, Myunghee Bae, speaks a million words.

Kenneth Bae, who had been held in North Korea since 2012, greets his mother Myunghee Bae after arriving, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., after they were freed during a top-secret mission by James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Kenneth Bae greets his mother Myunghee Bae after arriving Nov. 8 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

On the first anniversary of her son’s arrest on Nov. 3, 2012, the elder Bae wrote a Seattle Times guest column outlining her anguish over his imprisonment. Considering reports he had been hospitalized at least twice for health problems, Bae appeared robust Saturday night as he stepped off the plane at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

How sweet to witness this peaceful outcome for the Bae family. Imagine what these last two years have been like for them; not knowing when, whether and in what condition their loved one would be released by arguably the most unpredictable and secretive regime in the world.

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Comments | Topics: diplomacy, kenneth bae, north korea

November 10, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Helping Latino parents help their kids

Corrected version In the south Seattle neighborhood of White Center, parents, many Spanish-speaking, are learning how to teach their children years before they enter the classroom. A trend of training parents to be better first teachers for their infants and toddlers is gaining momentum nationwide in the push to improve early education. But, that type of training is…

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Comments | Topics: early education, latinos, parents

November 7, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Gov. Inslee should have revealed ‘no’ vote on Initiative 1351 sooner

Leaders shouldn’t be afraid to influence their constituents – that’s part of the job. I’m disappointed to hear that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee voted against Initiative 1351, but didn’t reveal his preference until after the election.

Supporters of I-1351 billed the law to limit class sizes and for Washington schools to hire 25,000 new workers, about a third of which would be teachers. If it passes — and it’s too close to call right now — the law could add a $4.7 billion burden on the state budget over the next four years.

“I did have concerns about financing, so I did not support it,” Inslee said in a post-election interview with TVW.

Gov. Jay Inslee.

Gov. Jay Inslee.

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November 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM

More community action necessary to save women’s health services in South King County

The race to find enough funding to keep the Auburn Public Health Clinic open just got a nice boost from local funders, but it’s not enough to prevent closure in January.

(Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, King County Executive Dow Constantine held a news conference at Auburn City Hall to announce those organizations that have stepped up to help Public Health — Seattle & King County keep the Auburn Public Health Center open. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

More cities, nonprofits and businesses still need to step up to help thousands of South King County’s most vulnerable women maintain access to family-planning services, as well as support programs for mothers and newborns.

On Wednesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other county leaders announced a coalition has come forward and pledged between $550,000 to about $700,000 total to help Public Health — Seattle & King County offset a revised shortfall of about $1.6 million to keep the only standalone family-planning clinic (and its two satellite offices) accessible.

Here’s the key date for the community to act: Nov. 17. On that day, the Metropolitan King County Council is set to vote on the budget for the next two years. A blueprint will be revealed about a week before.

The more funds can be identified before then, the less likely the county will have to consider peeling off resources from other critical service areas.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, king county, public health

November 4, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Updates from Seattle Times Opinion writers out on the town on election night

ORIGINAL POST 8:22 p.m.:

Hope everyone got their ballots in on time, as the 8 p.m. deadline just passed and ballots should be released here shortly.

Here are live results (50 to 60 percent of the final vote will be reflected tonight, according to the Secretary of State), and news columnist Danny Westneat is live-blogging about the results as they come in.

Opinion writer Thanh Tan is

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Comments | Topics: 2014, election, I-594

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