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2009 Washington Newspaper Publishers Association awards

WINNER: • Best editorial page Suburban Newspapers of America 2009 Editorial Contest




A Division of Sound Publishing

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Mirror Editorial

Big city politics in Federal Way When running for public office, the first goal is to win. But at what cost? Federal Way’s first mayoral election will get ugly — even uglier than the 2009 effort that divided voters over changing the city’s form of government. With a running start that began last year, Federal Way City Council member Jim Ferrell officially kicks off his mayoral campaign April 20. City council member Michael Park announced his candidacy late last month. Names continue to surface before the June filing deadline. The Ferrell campaign has taken an aggressive approach to shape public opinion about potential and actual challengers. This past winter, rumors circulated over a possible candidacy by Bob Roegner, a Mirror columnist and former Auburn mayor. Ferrell campaign supporters called and wrote letters, challenging the legitimacy of Roegner’s columns as well as his history in public office. Roegner has announced he would not run. Last month, the campaign filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission against Park over possible candidacy violations. Public records requests have been filed with the city by at least one known Ferrell supporter regarding Park’s travel expenses and more. The complaint is under review by the PDC. This is not a scolding of Ferrell and his fulltime campaign manager, but rather a reminder that at least one mayoral candidate is playing to win. Part of winning an election is making sure your opponent loses. The examples involving Roegner and Park illustrate the campaign’s concern over competition — namely, attempts to spin public perception from the get-go. Even if Ferrell’s campaign has no direct connection with his supporters’ letters and comments, a campaign can set the tone for discourse related to a particular election. It is one thing to criticize opposing candidates, but the line is drawn when emotion and name-calling overstep logic and fact. In changing Federal Way’s government to include an elected mayor, Ferrell tapped and fueled populist outrage to achieve victory. No matter how honest his mayoral campaign, that sentiment will follow Ferrell, for better or worse. The mayoral election represents Federal Way’s transition to big city politics. The key word is transition. Federal Way’s pond is still small enough to trace the waves and currents back to the big fish who make them. Candidates cannot control how their supporters act, but candidates can influence how their supporters react. In this historic election, The Mirror urges candidates to minimize rhetorical pollution and keep Federal Way’s political pond clean.

McKenna’s challenge (Re: “Did McKenna make a mistake?” by columnist Bob Roegner, April 7): Roegner has missed — deliberately? — the main point in Attorney General Rob McKenna’s joining other states’ attorneys general in challenging the Obamacare health bill. He is fulfilling the mandate of his job: Protecting the citizens of the state of Washington from an overreaching Congress and president. If a “win” in this case benefits him politically, so be it. I submit that he will benefit from his justi-

What did Jesus say about gays? What are you doing April 16? I hope you will support any youth and young adults you know who participate in the 14th annual Day of Silence. This national event has grown since its inception in 1996. It strives to bring attention to and proven intervention in anti-GLBTQ name-calling, harassment and bullying at schools. My question to you this year: Where do you stand on the continuum regarding the issue of GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning) rights? Are you a person who hates all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people? One who thinks they are sexual deviants and that God is punishing our country by killing soldiers because some of us embrace tolerance, compassion and even (heaven forbid) inclusion? Do you succumb to the message of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, whose Web site is www. and has banners proclaiming that “God hates fag enablers” and even “God hates you?” Perhaps you’re a step down on the continuum and would never be that extreme. Perhaps you are like readers of my past articles on this subject who imply that I am some sort of Christian abomination because I support homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender and heterosexuality as natural on the spectrum of human sexuality. Perhaps you think my Christian church is also a disgrace because we have pamphlets with covers reading “What did Jesus say about homosexuality?” and when you open them up, they are blank. If you are in this group, you might also agree with Derek Webb’s record label (INO)

that forced him to release his latest album, “Stockholm Syndrome,” to the public without the controversial song “What Matters More.” The song basically calls out the general Christian community regarding hypocrisy concerning treatment of GLBTQ people. If you want the song, you have to go to www.derekwebb. com to either download it free, or order the version of the album with the song included. Maybe you’re on the other end of the continuum that thinks all Christians are crazy and fanatical, and you are close-minded about all people of faith because of a loud minority. You may share John Fugelsang’s view that “although his parents are both ex-clergy, he’s come to view Jesus the way he views Elvis — loves the guy, but the fan clubs freak him out.” (http://www. Or maybe you are someone who is disdainfully making fun of Ricky Martin for coming out when “we all knew that already” (insert eye roll here). Seriously, given the number of people all over this continuum, can you blame a guy for being cautious about speaking up about being gay and Latino? I asked a friend who identifies as lesbian and Latina what she thought about Ricky’s situation. She said she thought he had probably finally gotten comfortable enough with himself to be honest about who he is. And then she reminded me that it’s interesting (ironic?) that GLBTQ people have to “come out” with a statement about their sexuality, when straight people don’t. [ more JOHNSON page 5 ] Amy Johnson

WINNER: • Best editorial page • Second place, General Excellence (overall)

Sex in the Suburbs

f e d e r a l way


[4] April 10, 2010

● LETTErS- Your opinion:

To submit an item or photo: email editor@federalwaymirror. com; mail attn Letters, Federal Way Mirror, 1414 S. 324th St., Suite B-210, Federal Way, WA 98003; fax (253) 925-5750. Letters may be edited for style, clarity and length. fied action, win or lose. The citizens of Washington should feel comforted by our attorney general. At least one of our state officers is doing his/her duty correctly.

Patrick Watson, Federal Way

Twin Lakes, watch Northshore battle Many are congratulating the staunch defenders of the North-

shore Golf Course on a hard won victory over the developers proposing a high density housing project. Unfortunately, these plaudits are premature. Although the City of Tacoma’s hearing examiner has rejected the developer’s application, considerable legal maneuvering is still to come. What continues to drive this legal brouhaha? Purely and simply, the prospects of enormous profits to rescue Soundbuilt Homes’

foundering empire. Their subsidiary Northshore Investors Limited (NIL) has managed to negotiate a sale price for the golf course far below normal value for development properties. The potential for gain is staggering, given their past successes at constructing low cost, high density housing at minimal cost, along with their expertise at mitigating their way out of infrastructure improvement requirements and their skill in litigating

code conflicts. With the filing of an appeal to disallow the recent hearing examiner’s findings and recommendation that the proposed development of the Northshore Golf Course be disallowed, NIL once again has prolonged this three-year-old controversy. The developer’s appeal will be heard by the Tacoma City Council at 5 p.m. April 13 at Tacoma City Hall. A denial would, of course, be favorable to those opposing the development and hopefully hasten the end of the legal wrangling. [ more LETTERS page 5 ]

April 10, 2010 [5]

State Patrol wants to change your speeding ways By DEAN A. RADFORD Editor, Renton Reporter

You’re more likely to get killed in a traffic accident involving speed in King County than anywhere else in the state. That’s probably not surprising, given the county’s population and traffic load. Counting 2004 through 2008, speed killed 246 people in King County, or 21 percent of the state’s total. But what’s surprising is that fatal accidents involv-

ing speed frequently occur on county or rural roads, outside congested cities, where wide-open spaces tempt a heavy foot. Statewide, during those five years, 1,166 people died in accidents caused by speed. In Island County 16 people were killed. In Kitsap County, 51 people were killed. Beginning Friday for three weeks, about half of the state’s roughly 300 police agencies will take part in a first-ever emphasis patrol targeting predeter-

mined areas where speed is involve speed. The fine for a known problem. speeding depends on the The statewide campaign speed. is called Slow Down or The emphasis patrols are Pay Up, announced not a “sneak attack,” Thursday with said the director of demonstrations and the Washington IN OTHER speeches at Boeing Traffic Safety ComField in Seattle. The mission, which campaign is part of is providing the the Strategic Highway participating agencies Safety Plan — Target Zero, with about $450,000 to pay whose vision is to eliminate for the extra patrols. traffic deaths and serious The campaign through injuries cased by speeding May 1 is not about writing by 2030. tickets, but about raisStatewide, about 40 ing public awareness and percent of all traffic deaths changing behavior, said

[ JOHNSON from page 4]

[ LETTERS from page 4]

So here it is, folks, for the record. I’m coming out, even if you think you already know this about me. I am comfortable enough with myself to tell you that I am a straight, white, married, Christian, middle class, college-educated (master’s degree) American mother — identities that hold a boatload of privilege in this society. I am in favor of GLBTQ rights and GLBTQ marriage, and I support GLBTQ people. I oppose discrimination due to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And other than on April 16, I don’t plan to be silent about it. How about you?

An approval would open yet another legal can of worms and prolong the dispute for more years to come. Either way, appeals to the Pierce County Superior Court will likely follow. The cost of the time and effort being spent by the city, the developer and the community surely could be put to better purposes. The primary issue is NIL’s request for rezoning of the golf course property. Their ploy is that the golf course property is not needed to satisfy the one-third open space requirement inherent in the PRD zoning code as originally specified in the 1981 agreement between the city, the golf course owners and developers involved at that time. This is based on the ridiculous argument that all the driveway and yard areas of the adjacent developments should be included in the PRD public open space total, violating property owners’ historic right to privacy dating back to the caveman. The city council should not be a party to such a farce. But if the applicants are sincere in their

Amy Johnson, MSW, is a personal life and parent coach in Federal Way and co-author of “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations.” She facilitates faith and sexuality classes for youth, and parenting classes in the area. Contact:


pleading, at least the community could look forward to enjoying the backyard swimming pool of the golf course owner who lives adjoining the golf course. Twin Lakes homeowners should be viewing these proceedings with considerable interest and alarm. As the economy begins to revive, enterprising developers will be viewing your dilemma with glee.

Gene B. Foster, NE Tacoma

Burned by fireworks and the rich folks Ow. Seattle’s fireworks resuscitation juxtaposed against more pressing issues around Western Washington (cartoon by Frank Shiers, opinion, April 7). Kind of unfair in that these other areas have fireworks displays to see (or no?). Seattle is concerned about the same things, is it helpful to be divisive? I think some of us don’t give a rip about the fireworks (I can’t ever stay awake that long), and did feel like Richie Riches throwing money at the “problem” was a bit odd. But rich folks do these things (it keeps their taxes down?) while the workin’ Joe frets over money/jobs.

director Lowell Porter. “If we can get the public’s support, we know we can save lives,” Porter said. The extra patrols are on duty during the times data show are when speeding is likely to occur: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. “You are going to see a signficant number of officers working in cars,” Porter said. Speeding is the number one factor in fatal crashes involving teen drivers

Every city is full of regular folks. Even Seattle. There are probably some frivolous, spoiled prigs in Everett, Olympia and Port Angeles too. Are you from Lake Woebegone?

David Shumann, Federal Way

Letters for Smith about health care Open Letter to U.S. Congressman Adam Smith (D-District 8), I am writing this letter in the newspaper because I have zero evidence that you even read one of the letters I sent to you prior to passing the unconstitutional health care reform act. I only received form letters in reply. 1. There is no right to health care. None of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights places obligations upon others. We all have free speech; however, nobody is required to listen. I exercised my right to freedom of the press by writing to you and you exercised your right to not read what

or motorcycle riders in Washington. According to the commission, the faster you drive, the more likely you are to die or become seriously injured in an accident. It’s not just younger drivers at risk. Older ones who ride touring motorcycles are also overly represented in the statistics for fatalities and serious injuries, Porter said.

Dean Radford is editor of the Renton Reporter, a sister newspaper of The Mirror.

I wrote. 2. Six insurance companies in Massachusetts are suing the state because they were denied rate increases, which will cause them to lose millions of dollars this year. This is unsustainable. Massachusetts is about five years ahead of Obamacare. Health care will bankrupt the insurance industry first, and the nation second. Three hundred years ago, there was no such thing as competent health care. In just a few short years Obamacare, will become the first selfdestructing right because we will be right back where we were 300 years ago — no health care at all. Between the SCHP program, Medicaid, hospital emergency rooms and charities, almost 100 percent of the uninsured have access to at least critical medical care. There was no need for this massive job killing, budget busting power grab.

Paul R. Stone, Federal Way

We welcome your letters email us at:

[4] July 7, 2010




Cheers n’ jeers • Cheers to Federal Way’s future on the Internet. The city’s website is headed toward an overdue makeover after spokeswoman Linda Farmer won a contest with CivicPlus Next Generation Government Websites. Federal Way’s revamped website is expected to launch in the fall. The current website’s format has not been updated in more than seven years, Farmer said. This victory means everything for Federal Way’s first impression with the world. For citizens, it will mean more online interactivity and better communication. For our maturing city, it means more modern and efficient methods to serve citizens. Communication is a bridge to trust, or at least a bridge across a gap. Any effort by the city to improve communication with the public is an effort well spent.

WINNER: • Best editorial page Suburban Newspapers of America 2009 Editorial Contest




A Division of Sound Publishing

Rudi Alcott Publisher: (253) 925-5565 Andy Hobbs Editor: (253) 925-5565 Advertising (253) 925-5565 Classified Marketplace (253) 925-5565 Letters

1414 S. 324th St., Suite B-210, Federal Way, WA 98003 For delivery inquiries

Toll-free: (253) 872-6610 or e-mail

• Cheers to a promising business climate in Federal Way. The recently launched South Sound Regional Business Incubator is designed to assist start-ups and companies looking to expand. Financial management tools, business planning, Internet access, marketing advice, access to capital, business training programs, mentoring and more are available to participants. Also, cheers to The Commons mall for attracting new tenants even in this struggling economy.

Tom Murphy is the city’s John Wooden As reported in the June 30 Federal Way Mirror, Thomas Murphy retired after spending 42 years in education including 22 years as the assistant superintendent and superintendent of the Federal Way Public Schools. In my three careers that have also spanned 42 years, I have worked for a lot of people, but none of them were even close to Superintendent Murphy. Tom Murphy took the place of Superintendent Tom Vander Ark, who resigned in 1999 to work for the Bill Gates Foundation. From day one, he was committed to the goal “all means all,” and to accomplish that goal, he had to

Closer look at mayor candidates Over the next four weeks, we will take a closer look at the candidates for Federal Way mayor. Each candidate has something to offer and they all care about making government work. But they are very different people with different backgrounds who are going to have to reach beyond what would be their traditional base if they are going to fashion together the votes to win. Today, we will look at the current mayor, Linda Kochmar. Kochmar has served on the Federal Way City Council since 1997, and is a risk manager at Lakehaven Utility District. She has a college degree and represents the city on numerous council and suburban city committees. She has been active in the community and attends about every social and civic event in town. She is universally regarded as friendly with an easy smile and a comfortable style when meeting people. Kochmar believes that these traits will pay benefits when voters go to the polls. She may be right. Even people supporting other candidates will acknowledge they like her. Kochmar also feels her length of service and her involvement in government provides her with the political contacts to advance Federal Way’s needs at the regional, state and federal level. In the Federal Way Mirror’s annual poll, she was selected “best city leader” in 2008 and 2010

by those sending in ballots. Kochmar is a Republican who describes herself as a fiscal conservative. She wants to have less government and low taxes. On the other issues, she tends to be a moderate. With campaign signs out, she is doorbelling and plans to do some mailing. However, she only expects to have a budget of between $10,000 and $15,000. While she is concerned about how much money some of the other candidates have raised, she doesn’t believe “the people’s seat can be bought.” Although Kochmar is well liked, her critics wonder whether she has the managerial experience to head a major public corporation like a city government, with hundreds of employees and a budget of several million dollars. She counters that she has broad government experience and would involve the community in helping to determine what City Hall’s priorities should be in facing what might be a $5 million budget shortfall. Kochmar also says she would hire a city administrator to help with the day-to-day operations of city government. She states that she wants to improve economic development efforts through assisting small business, and says we “need a smooth permitting process.” Public safety would be her first priority, and [ more ROEGNER page 5 ] Bob Roegner

2009 Washington Newspaper Publishers Association awards

• Jeers to a June 21 article in USA Today titled “Teen driving risks in high gear in summer: Safety programs aimed at deterring behavior linked to more fatalities for ages 15-20.” The article itself provides a short but informative glimpse at crash statistics involving young drivers. However, in USA Today’s print edition, the article is inaccurately paired with a photo of the memorial outside Decatur High School that honors Derek King and Nicholas Hodgins. These two students were killed by a suspected drunken driver on Interstate 5 just three days before graduation. Pairing the photo with the story implies that these young drivers died as a result of their own risk-taking behavior. To clarify: The students died after a 50-year-old man with two prior DUI arrests, and a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 at the scene, crashed into their stalled Honda Civic on the freeway. Amid the tragedy, The Mirror urges Washington state legislators to re-examine penalties for multiple DUI arrests and make it tougher for repeat offenders to get behind the wheel. In the bigger picture, the USA Today article still delivers a message of safety related to young drivers. And while young drivers tend to take more risks, the rules of safe driving apply to all ages.


WINNER: • Best editorial page • Second place, General Excellence (overall)


To submit an item or photo for publication in The Mirror: email; mail attn Letters, Federal Way Mirror, 1414 S. 324th St., Suite B-210, Federal Way, WA 98003; fax (253) 925-5750. Letters may be edited for style, clarity and length. find a way – and he did – to “accomplish more with less” as each year, thanks to our Legislature, he was faced with budget revenue shortfalls. To use an analogy: Recently we lost the greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden, who set records that no one will ever eclipse. If there ever was a “perfect individual,” he was it, and when people who knew him best spoke of his attributes, it was more about the man than the coach. If there is one person in our community who is our “John Wooden,” my vote would go to Tom Murphy. Let me give you

one perfect example. Despite his very busy schedule, he agreed to come and speak to a group of seniors from an organization I belong to. Everyone who attended that meeting was impressed not only by his message, but the fact that he took time out to come and talk to them. Another thing that school district staff enjoyed was his weekly e-mails on various subjects relating to education. They were both informative, insightful and thought-provoking. Many times, he would ask thoughtprovoking questions that had no “right answer.” My only regrets are the funding revenue shortfall issue did not get resolved during

his tenure — and in my opinion, it would have if the State Supreme Court had ruled properly on our lawsuit — and that Murphy can’t run for mayor of Federal Way because, in my opinion, he is the “perfect candidate.” He is a pillar in our community as he has also served in other positions besides the school superintendent. In closing, I would like to quote what someone said about John Wooden because it applies to Tom Murphy as well: “His enduring legacy as a role model is one we should all strive to emulate.” In other words, our new superintendent has some mighty big shoes to fill. Thank you, Mr. Murphy, for

all you have done for our school district and enjoy your retirement!

Gary Robertson, Federal Way

Right choice for Federal Way mayor Those of us living on the outskirts of Federal Way in what is called unincorporated King County should have an interest in the Federal Way mayor race. For political junkies like me, it’s popcorn time when I see four people jockeying for the vote: Council Members Jim Ferrell and Mike Park; Mayor Linda Kochmar; and State Representative Skip Priest. We must realize that this is serious stuff. How Federal Way is governed will affect us in [ more LETTERS page 5 ]

July 7, 2010 [5] [ LETTERS from page 4] the outskirts if we somehow are annexed. What steps Federal Way takes in the future will depend on the executive skills of its first elected mayor. The first steps will include the selection of the executive assistant, the government affairs director, the economic development director, and the chief financial officer. Before their jobs start, the mayor will need to have the people in these positions ratified by the City Council. I would be concerned. That process with the wrong mayor could be the first bad step for Federal Way: Potential back room deals and Chicago style politics. Will the mayor select people who will work well together and with others outside their department? Will there be that alertness to character faults that could disrupt the cohesion

of the city team? Or will Federal Way’s operation be the result of political gamesmanship and who can buy political favors? At a time when the city budget is at the breaking point for belt tightening, Federal Way voters cannot make a mistake. My concern has led me to believe that Linda Kochmar will have the highest respect for the people’s seat in Federal Way. Those who know her do not mistake her high sense of ethics and a unique ability to get people on task and working together. She will tell you that the city is not for sale. The mayor’s office will be the most open and operate with the highest of integrity. She will be the face of the city and she has already proven her skills regionally. Under her leadership, Federal Way will take a good step forward to be the best city it can possibly be.

Jon R. McIntyre, Auburn

[ ROEGNER from page 4] she would like to add neighborhood parks when the economy improves. While she is concerned about South King Fire and Rescue’s potential fiscal impact if its benefit charge passes in August, Kochmar is not sure what the actual impact will be, but believes the city council should discuss it. Other candidates question whether Kochmar has the leadership and political skills to be successful in the sometimes harsh give-and-take of local and regional politics. Kochmar believes she does. But can she win? Many I talked to believe she has a very good chance of advancing through the primary to the general

Washington’s fiscal disaster I am a member of a labor union. I recognize the good that they do and I also recognize that unions frequently are moved to excess. The same is true for management. In industry, labor and management have different goals, goals that almost always place them in opposition to each other. They have a shared destiny in that if the company fails, they both go down in flames. They share on the upside as well. If a company is exceedingly prosperous, both the stockholders and employees can prosper as well; however, many times if labor prospers it is at the expense of the stockholders and vice-versa. Management has an obligation to the stockholders. If management were in bed with the labor unions they would be guilty

election if she can appeal to a unique cross-section of voters. As the only woman in the race, she will have appeal to many women voters. As the current holder of the title of mayor, some voters might think she is continuing as the strong mayor incumbent, rather than trying to become the first one. Kochmar has utilized this opportunity herself by using the phrase “retain” in advertising. In a close race, which this figures to be, it could gain her a few extra votes. She will split voters with fellow Republican candidates Jim Ferrell and Skip Priest. But since Democrats don’t have a candidate in the race, she will target them for support. She has received the endorsement of Demo-

of both malfeasance and tax receipts go down. They misfeasance. Just imagine are in a no-win situation. what would happen if the They need more money, labor unions at Boeing but if they raise or lower had the ability to force the tax rates, they lose money. company officers out, that Businessmen face the is, fire their management. same issue. They can only It would not take long beincrease prices so much fore union demands before they price had a very serious themselves out of impact on company Federal Way the market; alternaperformance. First tively, they cannot the unions would stay in business if deprive them of the the lower prices becash required to delow their actual costs. velop new products. Boeing The same thing is hapwould have to increase their pening in California. One prices resulting in a loss state representative, with of market share and could a sterling record for being result in lower profits (law tough on crime, found himof diminishing returns). self the target of police and This is exactly what firefighters labor unions beis happening in Greece. cause he did not support a Public employees’ labor bill that would have allowed unions have learned that them to retire at age 50 at they can fire their boss; that 100 percent of their salary. is, elected officials. Any These unions went door to elected official who will not door. Police officers told support the agenda of these people that this representaunions finds themselves the tive was soft on crime. target of these labor unions. Who are you going to If they raise tax rates, actual believe, the politician or the


cratic County Assessor Lloyd Hara, which will help. She has also targeted some ethnic groups and is having some of her literature translated into Spanish and Russian. Political independents will be a target for all of the candidates. Can Kochmar pull this off? If her targeting works, then she may be able to. But she, like the other candidates, will have to sharpen her message with more specific ideas and proposals to demonstrate that she is the right candidate to lead Federal Way in this unparalleled economic climate.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn:

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police officer? The people believed the officer and replaced him with someone who would vote for the pension package the unions wanted. Now California is unable to meet its financial obligations. Every time they increase taxes, more businesses leave the state or go out of business and they get less money, not more. Washington is on the same path. Our public employees’ labor unions are out of control. They have financed the campaigns of many candidates for the state House and Senate. They expect a return on their investment. If they don’t give the unions what they want, they will not only lose their support, but become their target. State Sen. Tracey Eide (DDistrict 30) and State Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-District 30) cannot win re-election to office if they do not give the unions what they want. [ more LETTERS page 6 ]


Category 327: Best editorial pages