Be good to us, 2014.
Important developments are coming in the first few months of the year. They could turn sour or sweet for the South Sound. Our hopes for the winter flurry:
• To voters, ordinary school levies look routine. But for educators and students, maintenance and operations levies carry very high stakes. A fifth or more of basic education — such as textbooks and staffing — depends on a community’s willingness to replace expiring local school taxes.
Twelve Pierce County districts — including Tacoma, Puyallup, Bethel, Franklin-Pierce and University Place — have M&O levies on the Feb. 11 ballot. Every one of these measures is vital and deserves passage.
• Boeing will soon decide on where to assemble the bulk of its planned 777X airliner, a project that promises many billions of dollars to workers and suppliers wherever it is built. The future of Washington’s aerospace industry looks bleak if it doesn’t happen here.
Puget Sound machinists have already rejected a contract that would have trimmed some accustomed benefits but guaranteed them the 777X work. They’ll vote Friday on a slightly enriched contract. Both Boeing and national union leaders say Washington will lose its chances if the contract is rejected.
There’s so much riding on the outcome that we hope the region’s machinists will take the offer.
• Afghanistan is a long way off, but many thousands of South Sound soldiers have sacrificed immensely to defend it from the Taliban.
The United States and NATO are withdrawing their combat troops and turning security over to the Afghan government. But if Afghan President Hamid Karzai keeps up his anti-American posturing, the country is going to forfeit the air support and training it needs to keep the guerrillas at bay.
A Taliban comeback would be a tragedy, especially for the Afghan women who will effectively be re-enslaved under their rule.
• The Washington State Department of Transportation is preparing to relocate Tacoma’s Amtrak station to Freighthouse Square in the Dome District.
When it unveiled an initial design for the new Freighthouse station — an abominable, shed-like conception — horrified Tacomans called it “Amshak.” We hope WSDOT figures out that Tacoma is not going to settle for a station that looks like a squalid, utilitarian outbuilding.
• Now that Initiative 502 has legalized marijuana under tight regulations, state and local officials must decide whether to let the experiment work. That will require South Sound governments to adopt intelligent zoning for legal marijuana enterprises and take forceful action against illegal ones — including the plague of “medical” dispensaries.
We’re pessimistic that the new regime will do much damage to the black market or discourage underground sales to minors, but we’d love to be pleasantly surprised.