Court let best candidate keep her victory

Thumbs up: Supreme Court

In a ruling released Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the decision of a Kitsap County Superior Court that Christine Schaller is eligible to serve as a Superior Court judge in Thurston County, although she resides in Pierce County.

A few local attorneys had challenged Schaller’s eligibility, two of whom lost decisively to her in this year’s primary and general elections. Schaller argued, and the Washington Constitution makes no residency requirement for Superior Court judges.

Schaller was clearly the best and most popular candidate, winning the general election with nearly 67 percent of the vote.

Thumbs up: Dave Brubeck

For many lovers of jazz music, especially those of the Baby Boom generation, Dave Brubeck’s legendary album “Time Out” was the entry into the genre. Brubeck died last week, a day before his 92nd birthday.

Jazz albums rarely achieved widespread popular status until Brubeck broke that barrier in 1959 with the album’s leading track, “Take Five.” “Time Out” reached No. 2 on Billboard’s pop charts in 1961, and “Take Five” peaked at No. 5 on the adult contemporary list.

Brubeck transformed the jazz community, moving the dominant form from Dixieland to modern jazz during the ’50s. The unusual rhythms and nontraditional time signatures featured on “Time Out” established Brubeck, who played by ear, as one of music’s foremost innovators.

Brubeck’s contribution extended beyond the music he composed. A quiet leader in the civil rights movement, he always included black musicians in his band and refused to play concerts when promoters objected to his integrated group.

Brubeck left the world a better place.

Thumbs up: Returning soldiers

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is taking extra care to help 8,000 men and women returning home this winter from combat in Afghanistan. To ensure vulnerable soldiers don’t fall through the cracks, the base will embed behavioral health specialists into units as they come back home. The new 7th Infantry Division, created to oversee the health and training of soldiers, will assist in integrating veterans back into civilian life.

The military must do everything it can to keep our soldiers safe on American ground. We owe it to our returning heroes.

Thumbs down: values stripped

Perhaps we’re out of touch with pop culture, or just not in on the latest fitness fad, but we were shocked to learn of a Thurston County home equipped with a stripper pole, two five-foot alligators and a garden of marijuana plants. In a difficult real estate market, some people will try anything to increase the value of their properties. This is one home improvement project unlikely to succeed.

Thumbs up: Real estate

At first glance the latest Multiple Listing Service report on Thurston County home sales looks negative: Single-family home sales dropped 10 percent in November over the prior year. But let’s look at the glass half-full. The total number of homes for sale in the same period was 20 percent lower this year than in 2011.

The figures show that 17.2 percent of homes for sale this November actually sold, compared with only 14.9 percent last year. Fewer homes on the market generally means good news for sellers, who saw prices rise 2.7 percent this year.

It’s another positive sign the recovery is rolling, albeit slowly.

Thumbs off: No pot effect

According to a report in the Seattle Times this week, some University of Washington students say our state’s legalization of marijuana is unlikely to have any significant effect. Pot is already readily accessible, they say. Opinions differ among school officials and professors, of course, who see pot use increasing. Meanwhile, the feds still haven’t fully answered Gov. Chris Gregoire’s questions about how they will handle the conflict between state and federal laws. Stay tuned.