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

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Blanca Torres.

February 9, 2015 at 11:56 AM

West Coast ports’ weekend shutdown carries long-term consequences

A container ship entering the Port of Seattle. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times) Last week, the Seattle Times editorial board lauded a new agreement between the United States and China to send more varieties of apples to China. Washington, being the nation’s largest producer of apples, could see a major boost in apple exports…


Comments | Topics: labor, port shutdown, port slowdown

February 2, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Why Washington schools fail to teach Native American history

This Native American bust adorns the top of the Cobb Building in Seattle. (Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times) When I first heard that Washington lawmakers proposed a law that would require public schools to teach Native American history, culture and government, my reaction was: why? This is 2015, not 1950! How is it possible that Washington…


Comments | Topics: Education, history, Native Americans

January 29, 2015 at 3:17 PM

Seattle’s urban villages strategy is working — but more planning is needed in the next 20 years

A cyclist rides past Seattle's skyline as seen from West Seattle. (Ken Lambert / Seattle Times)

A cyclist rides past Seattle’s skyline as seen from West Seattle. (Ken Lambert / Seattle Times)

Last night I sat in a packed auditorium in Seattle’s City Hall to hear about how the urban villages plan is faring. The conclusion: They work.

Some people want Seattle to stay the same or dislike the changes they see happening. Those are valid concerns, but I’m the type of person who gets excited about urban development and seeing cities go from sleepy to vibrant. And, in some ways, it may seem like


Comments | Topics: growth, Seattle 2035, urban villages

January 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Relax, Seattle’s rental market is not in a crisis

Stories about tenants being priced out of their apartments are beginning to feel too familiar: An older apartment building trades hands, then the new owner imposes huge rental increases on tenants, some of whom are on fixed incomes or have been paying below-market rents for years or decades.

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle, where rents are going up. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)

Brian Mandell, a resident at the Linda Manor apartments in West Seattle. (Seattle Times / Erika Schultz)

Such a story graced the front page of The Seattle Times this week and metro columnist Danny Westneat vehemently reacted to the news.

While the story of an owner of a nine-unit apartment building more than doubling rents is shocking, it doesn’t represent the larger picture of Seattle’s housing market.

Rents rose about 18 percent in Seattle during the past two years and about 16 percent in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma Census area, according to apartment research firm RealFacts.

Despite the dramatic rent increases, Seattle remains relatively affordable. In addressing the issue of housing affordability, it’s more important to think about how to protect vulnerable tenants versus cursing landlords who want to maximize their revenues, which is in their right as business owners.



January 2, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Poll: Will you drive less in 2015?

I would love to see more people living in and around Seattle ditch driving in 2015 – and it looks like that could happen.

Heavy traffic is ballooning out of control resulting in two-hour commutes to travel 30 miles in the Seattle region. In addition, Washington prides itself on residents’ concern for the environment. Striving to drive less should be second nature in the Emerald City and Evergreen State.

Some good news: The Seattle Times’ Daniel Beekman reported that more than a million bikes went over the Fremont Bridge in Seattle this year. That constitutes a 10 percent bump in ridership. But wait, there’s more. The Seattle Department of Transportation plans to add or expand bike lanes from the Fremont Bridge to downtown and in South Lake Union along Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue.



December 25, 2014 at 6:02 AM

The day I stopped ignoring homeless people

I stepped off my bus Monday morning with a mission. The day before my church distributed gift packages for parishioners to give to homeless people.

I felt as if my church had entrusted me with a special task. The large Ziplock bag contained packs of raisins, crackers, band-aids, as well as a knit hat and gloves among other items.

My commute by bus takes me from West Seattle to Belltown and then I walk to The Seattle Times’ office in South Lake Union. I see at least a handful of people who look like they could use some help each day near my stop by Third Avenue and Lenora Street. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a worthy recipient.

People sleeping on the ground in Pioneer Square. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

People sleeping on the ground in Pioneer Square. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

The mission seemed simple enough: find a needy-looking person and hand over the package. Soon after of arriving at my stop, I saw an elderly woman with a walker and a cart.



December 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Thanks for the sales tax deduction, but what about fixing the tax code?

In another example of Congress kicking the can down the road, lawmakers approved a one-year extension of a sales-tax deduction on federal income-tax returns. The extension gives some relief to about 28 percent of Washington taxpayers who itemize their tax return and claim an average deduction of $600, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The certainty is…


Comments | Topics: maria cantwell, sales tax deduction, taxes

December 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Inslee promises $2.3B more for schools, but does he go far enough?

Corrected version.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday night presented a $2.3 billion proposal on education spending for the next two years.

The announcement is part of the governor’s multi-day rollout this week of his budget priorities. His decision to announce different parts of his plan on separate days and wait until Thursday to provide funding details makes it harder to put his numbers into context.

Inslee said his education plan would fulfill the McCleary obligation — a state Supreme Court decision mandating the state to fully fund basic education — a year early. It also would provide more funding for early education and higher education. The governor’s plan calls for $1.3 billion toward McCleary in 2015-17 and $2.4 billion more to be spent in 2017-19.


Comments | Topics: Education, Jay Inslee, McCleary decision

December 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

An unexpected activist for children in the immigration reform debate

Sonia Nazario never expected anyone to call her an immigration activist. Journalists often avoid taking sides in the issues they cover.

She won a Pulitzer Prize covering immigration and social issues for the Los Angeles Times and published Enrique’s Journey, a book about a young boy who travels on top of trains from Honduras to reach his mother in the United States.

Nazario thought she’d be done talking about child migrants by now — the first edition of her book came out in 2006.

Sonia Nazario. (Courtesy of Sonia Nazario)

Sonia Nazario. (Courtesy of Sonia Nazario)

In the past year, however, Nazario testified before Congress, delivered more than 60 speeches, wrote opinion pieces for the New York Times, and even appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to advocate for the rights of children coming to the United States from Central America. She also serves on the board of Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit founded by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie to recruit pro bono attorneys to represent unaccompanied children.

“I’ve covered unaccompanied minors for 15 years. I felt like I had to be a voice for these kids,” she told me while visiting Seattle Wednesday to speak at the Global Washington conference, a daylong event focused on international development and policy.


Comments | Topics: comprehensive immigration reform, Sonia Nazario, unaccompanied minors

December 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Bill Cosby and the power of internet shaming

One positive result of the recent attention to Ferguson, Mo., is that the news flowing out of that city drowned out stories about rape allegations against Bill Cosby in my social media feeds.

As much as I’m tired of seeing the proliferation of Cosby’s mug on Facebook and Twitter, the attention and internet shaming people showered on the scandal could end up creating more awareness and providing a platform for victims of sexual assault.

Bill Cosby in 2013. (Victoria Will/ AP)

Bill Cosby in 2013. (Victoria Will/ AP)

As in the case of Julia Marquand, a Seattle woman who posted a photo on Twitter of a man she’s says groped her near Westlake Park, police were initially not interested in pursuing the incident until after the photo went viral.

Marquand turned to social media after getting nowhere with the authorities. The man, who turned out to be a Level 3 sex offender, was charged with assault with sexual motivation, a gross misdemeanor.

Cosby’s alleged victims have also used social media to push their messages and stories, but since the statute of limitations has passed, Cosby does not face prosecution.


Comments | Topics: Bill Cosby, Internet shaming, social media

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