In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Food bank planning on new warehouse; recession is over, but unemployment persists




Cheers: To a new warehouse for the Clark County Food Bank. The group has long served its network of local distribution sites from a makeshift facility in Hazel Dell, which features 8,000 square feet of dry storage and refrigerated storage containers parked permanently outside. The new site is in the Cold Creek Industrial Park off Northeast Minnehaha Street on 40th Avenue. The $4.2 million warehouse will be constructed to the food bank’s specifications. However, the group needs to raise the last $427,500 by Nov. 15 in order to accept a state grant of $1.47 million.

Jeers: To jobless recoveries. A panel of economists has reviewed the data and declared that our latest recession ended in June 2009. However, the local unemployment rate was 13.9 percent last month, and about 2,000 fewer Clark County residents had jobs this August than last August. So even if the recession has ended, the symptoms linger. All of this was predicted by John Mitchell, a longtime Portland-based private economist. At The Columbian’s annual Economic Forecast event in January 2009, Mitchell predicted the recession would be over by late in the year, but it would be another year or two before Clark County’s employment situation would improve. Luckily Mitchell, who entertained the audience with a rhyming summary of his speech, also had this to say: “Stagnation and decline will mark 2009/Disappointing, but over time the state will do fine.”

Cheers: To the Washington State Supreme Court for its Thursday ruling supporting a ban on Internet gambling, upholding earlier rulings by the King County Superior Court and the Court of Appeals. There is no doubt gambling is widespread in our state, what with tribal casinos, nontribal cardrooms and lotteries. Anyone who feels the urge to gamble has ample opportunity. Online gambling and bookmaking fees remain illegal, though, and rightfully so. The argument was made that the ban on Internet gambling had a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce, but Justice Richard Sanders correctly wrote that the law is evenhanded, “regardless of whether the company running the website is located in or outside the state of Washington.”

Jeers: To the Canadian government’s decision to impose an annual border inspection fee of $550,000 for Amtrak’s through train from Portland and Vancouver to Vancouver, B.C. The train arrives at 10:50 p.m., after the customs inspectors have gone home. So the Canadians are asking for the Americans to pick up the cost of a second shift. It’s possible that the burden could be shifted to passengers, but the extra cost would make an affordable trip expensive. At stake is an estimated $11.8 million in economic benefits to British Columbia generated by the 26,837 passengers who rode the northbound train across the border into Canada in its first year. Canadians should compare the cost with the benefit.

Cheers: To Portland heart surgeon Albert Starr, who with an engineer partner, the late Lowell Edwards, developed a mechanical heart valve and a protocol for using it on humans. Starr performed the first successful procedure 50 years ago this week, and in the process revolutionized heart surgery. Patients who would have died within months now can live for many decades, and their lives are robust. Today, heart valve replacement is the second most common cardiac surgery.

Jeers: To Snohomish County bureaucrats who would prefer to limit public access to public records. The county complains that many people request the records, the workers assemble them, and then no one picks them up. They’d like the state to amend our Public Records Act. However, a story in The Daily Herald notes there are other solutions the county could implement. Good government requires public oversight.