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Opinion Northwest

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

July 14, 2014 at 6:20 AM

What candidates really mean when they say “secure the border”

Interviewing Congressional candidates over the past two weeks, The Seattle Times editorial board kept a tally of vague but repetitive phrases. Top of the list: “secure the border first.” I asked candidate after candidate to define “secure,” and got more vacuous rhetoric. Why is that so hard? Because the candidates aren’t saying what they really think. Christopher Wilson,…

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Comments | Topics: border security, congress, illegal immigration

July 10, 2014 at 6:04 AM

A ‘no’ vote on Prop. 1 will not destroy Seattle parks

A bicyclist rides around the north end of Green Lake Park early on a fall morning. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

What happens if voters don’t pass Proposition 1 on the Aug. 5 ballot? Contrary to supporters’ claims, Seattle parks won’t be doomed. Citizens might even get a chance to vote on a better measure in a future election.

Parks enthusiasts (myself included) shouldn’t be bamboozled into thinking the formation of a metropolitan park district within city limits – operated and led by the Seattle City Council — is the only way to fix a daunting $270 million maintenance backlog.

As The Seattle Times makes clear in Wednesday’s editorial, parks definitely deserve some TLC. But the board joins the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County and the pro-parks/anti-Prop. 1 citizen group Our Parks Forever in opposing the proposed taxing authority outlined in Prop. 1.

Preserving parks is critical to quality of life and public health. The mayor and council members are understandably eager to create dedicated parks funding and free up room in limited levy capacity for other worthy programs, such as universal preschool. But they have failed to make a case for a Seattle Park District that gives elected officials so much additional, unfettered power to tax and spend.

By rejecting Proposition 1, voters send a strong message to city leadership: We love parks, but return with a levy or alternate measure that prioritizes park needs, holds officials more accountable and preserves citizen participation.

Three questions to keep in mind before you check off that ballot:

1. If everyone loves parks and levies pass so easily, what’s the big deal with forming a metropolitan park district?

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Comments | Topics: august primary, metropolitan park district, prop 1

July 8, 2014 at 6:25 AM

State marijuana stores will disappoint. But that’s a good thing.

UPDATED, 8:40 a.m.: Brian Smith of the Liquor Control Board said said an emergency rule adopted by the board on June 25 requires products be homogenized (assuring the psychoactive THC is equally distributed), scored for individual dosage (such as the squares on a chocolate bar) and be submitted to the board for pre-approval. That could theoretically happen within weeks, although a shortage of marijuana from licensed processors could further delay the appearance of edibles.

ORIGINAL POST: When Washington’s first legal marijuana stores open today, they’ll lack a product that will eventually dominate the market. It would be like opening a liquor store by selling only gin.

But in choosing to temporarily not have marijuana-infused food and drink products in stock, the state Liquor Control Board made a smart gamble. At the risk of alienating some customers,  the state avoids the potential health and public-relations debacle vividly described in New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s now-famous “panting and paranoid” bad trip from a marijuana-infused chocolate bar.

It is a good call.

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July 4, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Three easy ways to help students in need of school supplies

Celebrate Independence Day in a meaningful way by supporting The Seattle Times’ School Supply Drive. Friday’s editorial kicks off the newspaper’s annual effort to collect funds to assist three local nonprofits in their efforts to get backpacks filled with pencils and paper to children from poor and homeless families. Here are three easy ways to get involved. 1. Join…

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Comments | Topics: fund for the needy, school supply drive, seattle times

July 3, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Make birth control pills available over the counter

This week’s Supreme Court decision favoring Hobby Lobby’s religious rights over the ability of its employees to access a full range of birth control options is a bad one, but it’s also a catalyst for change.

Supporters of employer-paid birth control rally in front of the Supreme Court before the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Supporters of employer-paid birth control rally in front of the Supreme Court before the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was announced June 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One way to get around the politics of the Affordable Care Act is to make birth control as accessible and affordable as possible to all women, regardless of whether they have insurance coverage.

As Vox reported on Monday, some Republicans are now in favor of taking birth control out of the insurance arena and making it available to women over the counter. Reproductive health experts have been studying and advocating this approach for a long time. The Seattle Times published an editorial in December 2012 that encouraged the FDA to consider the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) recommendation to provide oral contraceptives (aka the pill) to women without a prescription.

Here’s an excerpt:

Many women cannot afford the cost of birth control or the doctor’s visit necessary to access the different methods sold on the market.

One consequence is that half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to the ACOG. That figure hasn’t changed in 20 years…

Other forms of contraceptives, including intrauterine devices and shots, are not part of this equation. But after decades of study, birth-control pills have proved to be a common, cost-effective method for many.

No drug is without risk, not even aspirin. Do we trust women to follow instructions? Are they capable of detecting adverse side effects and seeking help if they need it? The ACOG’s decision was based on evidence that suggests they are.

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Comments | Topics: birth control, hobby lobby

July 2, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Send Gordon Hirabayashi to the National Statuary Hall

Who's missing from the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall?

Who’s missing from the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall?

Washington State’s delegation in the National Statuary Hall hasn’t been updated since 1980, when the bronze casting of Sister of Providence nun Mother Joseph was shipped east. I think Washington should recall her, or missionary Marcus Whitman, and send back Gordon Hirabayashi, the courageous resister of Japanese-American internment in World War II.

Hirabayashi was among the interesting responses to my suggestion that we “hit refresh” on the state’s statues in the Capitol Statuary Hall collection, which honors two deceased icons from each state.

Whitman and Mother Joseph have their fans. Sister Judith Desmarais, of the Sisters of Providence’s Mother Joseph province, defends Mother Joseph as a pioneering architect who built 30 schools and institutions.

But others liked the idea of a fresh contingent. Responses linked — probably for the first time ever — Kurt Cobain and Bing Crosby as worthy candidates. Reader Ken Bertrand of Seattle said he suggested

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Comments | Topics: Bing Crosby, Capitol Statuary, Edward R. Murrow

June 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Patty Murray walks her way to political compromise; Obama and Boehner should do the same

As you can see in the photos below, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., likes to walk and talk and negotiate with Republicans. These are more or less photo ops, but they send a powerful message to the people: Politics involves negotiations, guts and old-fashioned getting along.  I can’t think of another Democrat who has had…

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Comments | Topics: boehner, compromise, congress

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