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

Topic: washington state

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November 19, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Task forces: a place where “good ideas go to die”

A major problem for special education is the term “special education.”

A new report examining Washington’s special education programs calls for the governor to establish a 12-person commission to revamp the current system. But, steer clear of the terms “special education” or “task force,” the report insists. “Blue Ribbon Commission” sounds much better.

The recommendation comes from representatives of 138 social, health, educational, parent, student and child advocacy groups with a stake in special education that provided input for the report.

They determined that using special education or task force in the name of the new commission could keep the the group from effectively carrying out its mission. (Read more about that here.)


Comments | Topics: blue ribbon commission, special education, washington state

August 25, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Seattle Times recommendations for the November 2014 election

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

This summer and fall, Seattle Times editorial board members are interviewing candidates in select races for state and federal office, and in pro and con campaigns in statewide and local initiatives. We published our recommendations for the August primary, and many of those endorsements are restated below. We are continuing interviews for the remaining races that will be settled by the November ballot.

Also, the editorial board has published a series of questions for state candidates on various topics important to Washington state. Join the conversation and submit your own questions directed to candidates. What would you want them to focus on?

If you have other questions about King County Elections, call 206-296-VOTE or go to

If you have questions about Snohomish County Elections, call 425-388-3444 or go to the Snohomish County Election division website.

For questions about Washington state elections, go to the Secretary of State election website.

Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties and for ballot measures. Read how these election endorsements are made, explained by Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley before the August primary.


Comments | Topics: election, November 2014 general election, Seattle Times editorial board

June 26, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Who represents Washington state in the U.S. Statuary Hall?

In the National Statuary Hall version of “The Bachelor,” Marcus Whitman would be a big winner. As depicted by his statue, the missionary doctor from Walla Walla had rippled thighs, a buckskin shirt tight across his abs and a hipster beard. Narcissa Whitman would’ve been thrilled, had she not been killed by Cayuse Indians. That statue would…


Comments | Topics: history, washington state

March 4, 2014 at 6:11 AM

Readers share stories of losing federal unemployment benefits

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Opinion Northwest recently asked for readers’ thoughts on Congress’ failure so far to extend federal unemployment insurance. The Feb. 21 blog post followed this editorial calling on lawmakers to help struggling but active job-seekers.

Within days, the post received more than 300 responses from across the country — the map at the top of this post shows locations of responses we received. Many people explained how the temporary assistance had helped them to keep their families housed and their Internet connections available so that they could post their resumes online. A few disagreed with the extension, saying it discourages the long-term unemployed from trying harder to find work. Older workers offered heart-wrenching stories about the difficulty of getting an interview and holding on to a position in today’s economy. During the process of verifying a few different writers’ identities, a few phone numbers were disconnected.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate is plotting again to pass an extension measure with the help of some Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office outlined the benefits of a short-term fix in this Dec. 3 analysis. “Recipients of the additional benefits would increase their spending on consumer goods and services. That increase in aggregate demand would encourage businesses to boost production and hire more workers than they otherwise would, particularly given the expected slack in the capital and labor markets,” the report concludes.

Here in Washington state, the Employment Security Department reports about 28,000 people exhausted their federal benefits on Dec. 28 after Congress failed to act. Since then, the agency estimates thousands more drop out of the system every week.

What happens to them now?

Scroll down to read some of their stories.

Support a federal extension of unemployment insurance:

I support the extension due to the fact that I lost my job of 29 years in June. My benefits ran out in January. No one will hire me due to my age. I’m 64 years old. Having 26 weeks is not long enough to find a job at my age. It is devastating to our budget with first the loss of a long-term job, and then no unemployment to help with expenses. My job loss was due to my position being eliminated. I would have loved to continue working until I was old enough to retire, but my employer had other plans. We have now had to put our home up for sale, we sold our second vehicle and have cut out anything possible to cut back. I’ve gone from a job that paid over $3,000 a month, to unemployment at less than half of that amount, and now down to zero for my income — it is hard to live on just my husband’s Social Security. I need to work, and have worked since I was a teenager. I need the extra weeks of unemployment to carry me until I can find a job. It is not right to not extend the benefits to those of us who are struggling to find a job. Something needs to be done to help all us who are out of work.

— Sharon Washburn, Yakima


Comments | Topics: congress, federal unemployment, jobless benefits

February 21, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Tell us how unemployment benefits affect you

The Seattle Times’ Monday editorial calling on Congress to extend unemployment benefits has received some heavy online traffic. Obviously, this issue hits a nerve for many of you out there who are searching for work or know someone who is. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

In Washington state, at least 28,000 job-seekers so far have lost a critical financial lifeline. Many have put this money immediately into their local economies. It’s how they have afforded basic necessities such as rent, gas, groceries and utilities…

Without an extension, thousands more throughout Washington will continue to lose emergency federal assistance each week after their regular state benefits run out at 26 weeks.

Workers looking for jobs beyond that period now make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s unemployed population. There is an average of three applicants for every job opening.

There’s good reason for lawmakers to return from recess and re-start this debate. According to a January Quinnipiac University poll, 58 percent of respondents support continuing this financial lifeline for those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.

Share your thoughts with us in the form below.


Comments | Topics: congress, federal government, unemployment insurance

October 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM

The decline of meth in Washington: bye bye Walter White

In “Breaking Bad” a Washington state drama, Walter White’s blue meth would’ve been the bomb 10 years ago. That’s when, by some measures, meth peaked as the drug of choice. It was an “epidemic” in news reports (including mine). But meth’s decline has skipped notice. Like Walter White (no spoilers), meth skipped town, but is still dangerous. The Department of…


Comments | More in Discussion | Topics: DOE, Meth, Walter White

August 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Washington state wins on Yucca Mountain nuclear site in federal court

Big, if belated, news this morning is Washington state’s victory before the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals in its efforts to get the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to follow the law on a long-term nuclear waste repository. In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals panel ordered the NRC to resume its work on whether Yucca…


Comments | Topics: Hanford, nuclear waste, washington state

May 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

No need to paint all Catholic hospitals in Washington with same broad brush

Tuesday’s editorial argues there’s a difference between health systems that merge and those that are setting up a new working relationship. I urge us all to resist painting UW Medicine‘s latest community hospital ally, PeaceHealth, with the same broad brush that many might be tempted to apply to the entire Catholic hospital system.

The UW Medicine-PeaceHealth “strategic affiliation” announced last week is more or less a referral network that is intended to serve two major purposes. First, officials say their goal is to provide patients of all backgrounds with seamless care in an age of complex health care reforms that will demand better outcomes. Second, we’re looking at an opportunity to train the next generation of doctors, nurses and hospital employees.

The public should not confuse this “strategic affiliation” with the other emerging trend in Washington state that will soon lead to half of all hospital beds being run by Catholic-affiliated hospitals. I certainly have some concerns about this, as previously expressed by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat and tracked by I believe patients in publicly-subsidized hospitals deserve to have access to the full range of health services — including abortion care, scientifically-proven stem-cell procedures and end-of-life services. At some point, lawmakers may have to set some parameters.

Of course, each hospital should be judged on its own merits. After spending considerable time on the phone with the key players in this “strategic affiliation,” including UW Medicine Chief Health System Officer Johnese Spisso and PeaceHealth Chief Strategy Officer Peter Adler, I don’t believe this particular alliance is an attempt by the Catholic church to take over the university’s venerable teaching hospital and limit what future doctors and nurses are trained to do.

Here’s why:


Comments | Topics: abortion, catholic church, health care

April 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Poll: Should Bob Ferguson sue florist for refusing to serve same-sex couple?

Does a Richland florist have the right to provide service to a gay man for years, then decide she won’t do business with him when he tells her he’s using the flowers in his wedding ceremony to another man?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson doesn’t think so. Discrimination is discrimination, and Washington treats the institution of marriage the same for all after the passage of Referendum 74 last November.

Here’s the skinny from Seattle Times reporter Lornet Turnbull’s Tuesday news story:


Comments | More in Polls | Topics: bob ferguson, politics, referendum 74