In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Technology targets troubled trucks;living a lavish life on welfare

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Cheers: To technology that may help pull more unsafe trucks and over-tired truckers off the road. The Washington State Patrol is using new cameras and software at the Ridgefield Port of Entry and 11 other truck inspection stations around the state that can automatically scan a truck’s license plate and display the truck’s history to the commercial vehicle enforcement officer. The details include the trucking company’s safety record and when the driver passed other points on the network, which is an important clue as to how long he’s been behind the wheel. The system will help concentrate enforcement efforts on the trucks and operators who need attention the most.

Jeers: To living in a $1.2 million waterfront home, taking long vacations to Europe and the Caribbean, and driving a Jaguar — all while collecting welfare benefits. The Associated Press reported on the case of the Seattle chiropractor and his wife who reportedly had done all of these things, while collecting more than $100,000 in welfare. The U.S. Attorney’s office is suing the couple, accusing them of repeatedly providing false information. A bonus jeer to a system that would allow something this egregious to occur.

Cheers: To returning a house to its home. Over Thanksgiving weekend, a houseboat that had been left floating and abandoned in Lake River was returned to its original moorage, McCuddy’s Ridgefield Marina. Early this year, the owner, in a dispute over moorage fees, had abruptly towed the floating home upstream, moored it, and left. With no power, water, sewer or neighbors, it became a target for vandalism and illegal trespassing, and began sinking until the river level fell. When it broke loose last month, the marina staff, with the permission of the sheriff’s office and Ridgefield police, took charge and returned it to the marina. Unfortunately, another vessel used to tow the houseboat remains sunk in Lake River, a hazard to navigation.

Jeers: To ongoing efforts by the Legislature to find new ways to spend state money. While largely shirking their job during the special session to rebalance the state budget (a limited plan may gain some traction next week), several legislators have apparently found time to stop and smell the flowers. That would be the state flower, the coast rhododendron, and Sens. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island; Tracey Eide, D- Federal Way; and Curtis King, R-Yakima. Their bill would override a moratorium on creating new specialty license plates and force the Department of Licensing to design, manufacture and sell “state flower” license plates, which would be the state’s 22nd specialty plate. The coast rhododendron has been the state flower since 1892 and Washington has been issuing license plates since May 2, 1905, so what’s the hurry? Of course, they need to sell only 35 million plates at $40 each to erase the $1.4 billion deficit.

Cheers: To donated groceries, and a big new larder in which to store them. This year’s Inter-Service Walk & Knock food drive netted more than 140 tons of food. That is less than last year’s 166 tons, but the haul still looked impressive Tuesday when it was displayed in the new 22,000-square-foot Clark County Food Bank. The food bank, which took more than five years to plan, finance, design and construct, provides adequate space to take advantage of large quantities of donations that had to be turned away in the past. And, at nearly three times the size of the old facility, it’s well-sized to fit the unfortunate reality of hunger in our community.

Jeers: To $3.8 million in state money wasted when worker’s compensation claimants failed to show for medical exams. How could they skip these? It wasn’t like they were at work. Luckily, the state has created a reminder system to help get these patients to their doctors.