The year 2020 won’t soon be forgotten; though some might want to try.
Still, the year’s events — including our struggles against a pandemic and the political fights over offices and solutions — may still prove to have made us stronger, if we make the most of the challenges.
Here’s a look at the year past as seen by The Herald Editorial Board:
As ‘Sailors’ Choice,’ Everett should be Navy’s choice: Navy Base Everett has not been home to an aircraft carrier — the purpose for which the naval base was built — since the USS Nimitz left in 2015. A report in January, from U.S Rep Rick Larsen, D-2nd District, outlined the advantages that the Everett base — the most modern in the nation — offered strategically to the nation and in the interests of the ships’ crews and families, including the Port of Everett’s deep-water port and location near open water and the infrastructure offered for shipyard work.
“When removing the carrier mission from (Naval Station) Everett, the Navy failed to account for the value of dispersing the fleet, did not include deployability in its analysis, and under-resources a new and efficient installation,” Larsen wrote in the report. “The Navy is making a bad decision.”
Update: Larsen, city and county leaders and others now will have a new administration and a new Defense secretary to seek approval for the return of a carrier and support ships.
Panel does little to quell concerns on Boeing, FAA: Following air disasters in which two Boeing 737 Max planes crashed in 2018 and 2019 because of a faulty software system, killing 346 passengers and crew, a federal Department of Transportation committee examined the relationship between aerospace companies and federal regulators, specifically the Federal Aviation Administration’s practice of delegating a significant portion of safety reviews to manufacturers’ employees. The conclusion of the report, in essence: This is “effective,” “rigorous and robust.”
Rep. Rick Larsen, chairman of the House Transportation Committee’s aviation subcommittee, maintained his committee’s review was far from over. Citing several other reports and recommendations, “one thing is abundantly clear: the method by which the FAA certifies aircraft is itself in need of repair,” Larsen said in a statement.
Update: Concerns in the industry and among officials remain, but the FAA issued a new flight certificate for the 737 Max and lifted the 20-month grounding order in early December. Alaska Airlines recently announced its plans to lease 13 Boeing 737 Max 9 planes.
Allow kids accurate information on sexual health: Legislation reintroduced in the state Legislature sought to require every school district to provide sexual health education in their schools, selecting from a list of state-approved curricula or reviewing materials to meet state standards. The education would need to be medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, equally address all students and include information about abstinence and other methods of birth control and disease prevention.
“This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators,” the Senate bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, said. “It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others.”
Update: The legislation was adopted but was the subject of a referendum that sought its repeal. Voters, in the November election, upheld the law with nearly 58 percent support.
Keep calm and wash your hands to fight covid-19: In early March, few had a firm understanding of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus that caused what was being called covid-19. Early on, health officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, were advising: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS.” The shortage caused by the hoarding of masks means fewer available for health care professionals and the sick who need them. That advice would later change, of course.
The best way to save lives and hold down the costs of response, the editorial board wrote, is to do what we can to check the spread of the disease by limiting the dissemination of incorrect information, staying home when we’re sick, skipping the handshakes, covering our coughs and washing our hands.
A few weeks later, a political divide had grown, much of it over the how seriously to take the threat, the calls to wear masks and the directives from state and local government to stay home as much as possible, limiting business operations. By the end of March, it was hoped that vigilance on masks and social distancing could limit deaths in the United States to between 100,000 and 200,000, meanwhile Congress passed the Cares Act to sustain families and businesses throughout the fight.
Update: Distribution of two coronavirus vaccines has begun in the state and throughout the nation for health care workers and others. Congress passed a second, but less generous relief package, but as of Friday, that bill sits unsigned on the president’s desk. And some 329,000 Americans have died.
Public health isn’t part of Sheriff Fortney’s beat: Covid’s political fight found a local focus with a Facebook post by recently elected Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, criticizing Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home restrictions and announcing he would not carry out enforcement of the restrictions: “The impacts of COVID-19 no longer warrant the suspension of our constitutional rights,” including the rights to “peaceably assemble,” “keep and bear arms” and “attend church service.”
The editorial board found Fortney’s knowledge lacking in terms of public health and constitutional law:
“In the interests of public safety and health, governments are allowed the ability to adopt certain restrictions regarding our rights. Were they not, Sheriff Fortney might find his deputies challenged by citizens seeking to ‘peacefully assemble’ behind the yellow tape of crime scenes.”
Update: A recall effort against the sheriff has been allowed by the state Supreme Court to proceed. It must gather 44,494 valid signatures of Snohomish Count voters by March 9.
Where we go from here after Floyd’s death, protests: The May 25 death of a Minneapolis man, George Floyd, who suffocated — handcuffed and prone, pleading “I can’t breathe” — as a police officer’s knee crushed his neck for more than eight minutes, renewed discussion of issues of law enforcement reform, racism and related challenges in Snohomish County.
“What cannot be avoided,” the editorial board wrote, “is our responsibility for confronting and correcting the policies, practices, systemic racism, insular attitudes and complacency — seen nationwide and in our own communities — the pressure from which was allowed to build until cellphone video of Floyd’s death made Americans confront a full bill of ugly realities.”
Congress nears breath of fresh air on park funding: An example of Congress’ bipartisan abilities was demonstrated with the approval of Senate and House of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide about $9.5 billion in funding over the next five years to address most of an estimated $12 billion maintenance backlog that has been building for years at parks and preserves in the National Park Service and for other federal lands. Importantly, approval of the act also assures full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which just a few years ago was threatened with its end.
Update: While signed by President Trump, there has been recent criticism of cuts to funding requests by the administration and an Interior Secretary order that gives governors veto power of federal public lands acquisition.
Honor 100 years of suffrage with your ballot: The nation marked 100 years since a vote in Tennessee’s legislature on Aug. 18, 1920, provided the 36th and final state approval needed for ratification of the 19th Amendment, recognizing women’s right to vote.
The amendment’s centennial arrived during an election year of great consequence and one of increased voter interest and participation.
“It is historic,” said Carolyn Weikel, who retired in 2019 after serving 12 years as Snohomish County auditor, the county office responsible for elections.
“Even after women have had the vote for 100 years, it’s telling that in our society women have just recently been coming more into power, playing a role they should have played all along,” Weikel said. “People are recognizing that women make good decisions when they vote.”
Keep the lights on for aerospace in Everett: The Boeing Co. announced in October it would move one of its most technologically advanced lines of jetliners — the 787 Dreamliner — out of the Everett plant from which it first rolled in 2007, transferring it a second existing plant in South Carolina, with the potential loss of 900 to 1,000 jobs in Everett. The announcement was met with a range of reactions, from anger to resignation.
Among the reactions was a statement that also found faith in the region’s resilience: “Regardless of where Boeing chooses to locate any of its product lines,” said Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, “Everett remains a world class aviation and aerospace manufacturing hub.”
It does, the editorial board agreed. “And with or without the 787, Everett, Snohomish County and the state should continue their efforts — and frequent review of those efforts — to maintain and expand upon the well-educated and highly capable unionized workforce and the supportive infrastructure that grew around the Everett plant first built for the venerable 747 program.”
Update: Boeing announced last week that it had moved up its timetable to complete the move of the 787 line by March.
Calling on the ‘brethern of the same principle’: “Four years ago we opened our post-election editorial, as we do now, with a quote from President Thomas Jefferson from his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801: ‘But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called, by different names, brethren of the same principle.’”
Even on Election Night, with the outcome uncertain, what was clear was that one election would not be enough: “The truth is that the election of either Trump or Biden, itself, is not going to resolve the nation’s most pressing problems. Nor will partisan control of the Senate or House determine success or failure in beating back covid or any of the challenges we face.
“Ultimately, resolution of covid, climate change, economic recovery and more depend — as such issues always have — on us: individual Americans, Jefferson’s brethren of the same principle. And that will require Americans to shelve their preference for easy outcomes that ignore the concerns of those with whom they disagree. We have to listen. We can’t easily disregard the concerns of others. We have to be willing to consider solutions we have previously dismissed. And we have to find agreement on facts, on statistics and on evidence.”
Update: To be determined.