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Past opinions provide perspective

Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.

Consolidation, Jan. 20, 1919

Combining county and city government is an idea that goes way back, as evidenced by this S-R editorial.

“A bill introduced in the legislature at Olympia … makes possible the consolidation of city and county governments where cities have a population exceeding 80,000. … To offset this reform, a constitutional amendment will be required.

“The proposition has much merit. The overlapping of city and county governments in large counties like Spokane, King and Pierce, is costly, confusing and conflicting. A single government would be more expeditious and would cut out a great deal of waste and inefficiency. The reform would not be experimental.

“The plan has worked successfully for many years, for illustration, in San Francisco. It simply makes one agency do the work that was formerly done by two, and do it better and more economically.”

Tax reform, Jan. 16, 1983

Washington state’s tax code has long been a sore point for the editorial board. This editorial notes the impact after a deep recession.

“The state’s economic condition is beyond Band-Aid repair. Washington is at a point where legislators must strongly consider rearranging the state’s tax structure. The lesson of the past two years is that the present tax system is not reliable during lean economic times.

“Washington depends heavily on the sales tax for revenue. In a bullish economy, the sales tax is an outstanding revenue producer. It can turn good times into great times. But in a weak economy, the results run just as far in the other direction. A recession can wield a veritable knockout punch, as has been evident during the past two years.

“Washington needs a more predictable tax structure which would even out the highs and lows. That does not necessarily require an increased tax load – just a rearrangement of it.”

Gulf War, Jan. 16, 1991

As the Gulf War kicked off, the editorial board weighed in.

“By all accounts, last night’s attack on Baghdad by American forces and their allies was both massive and precise. It was just what Iraqi President Saddam Hussein deserved.

“For that matter, it was just what Saddam has been promised, time and again, that he would get. … Make no mistake. Saddam Hussein is to blame for this conflict; all he had to do to avoid it was comply with international rules of behavior. Curiously, to the Western mind at least, he ignored every warning, every entreaty. He thumbed his nose at a world aligned against him.”

It continued: “While Saddam has contemptuously rejected all overtures of peace, President Bush has directed that the allied military operation concentrate on knocking out Saddam’s offensive capability while keeping the threat to Iraqi civilians and allied service personnel at a minimum.

“American military men and women taking part in Operation Desert Storm have a solemn role and can be counted on to perform it honorably. They and their families and loved ones deserve Americans’ respect and support.”


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