In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Magnet school will offer science, math;Washougal mayor learns a lesson



Cheers: To a new magnet school aimed at students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. Vancouver Public Schools will launch the new school in 2012, probably at the campus of an existing high school. Like the district’s extremely popular Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, the new STEM magnet will provide a selected student body in grades 6-12 with a comprehensive education that will prepare them to pursue targeted careers. The school will open with 50 to 60 students in each of the sixth and seventh grades, then add one class yearly. Eventually, the student body could number 700 — about 100 students per grade. Applications for the school will open next month.

Jeers: To Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, who pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to a charge of impersonating a police officer, a gross misdemeanor. The plea — technically, Guard did not admit guilt, but did concede the prosecutor had enough evidence that a jury would be likely to convict him — ends a case that started Dec. 24, 2010. Guard was driving a city-owned Ford Taurus — the police chief’s former car — on a personal trip when he flashed the emergency lights at a driver whom he considered to be driving too slow in the fast lane. We hope Guard, who has had a successful record as mayor, has learned that part of being a leader includes setting a high standard of personal behavior.

Cheers: To reconsideration of a proposed $585,000 water bill credit to Frito-Lay. There’s no question that the snack food manufacturer’s Vancouver plant is a valuable source of jobs for the community. And there’s no question that the city would like to encourage businesses to make capital investments here. But giving the PepsiCo subsidiary a new break at the same time it was hiking residential water bills would have been a classic case of bad timing. The city and the company will continue to work together to identify opportunities to keep the factory a vital part of our industrial scene.

Jeers: To critics of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler. The Camas Republican has drawn constant criticism in her first year for allegedly being in lock step with House Speaker John Boehner rather than representing her district. Then, earlier this week, when she and six other Republicans defied Boehner and supported extending a payroll tax cut for two months, she drew a bunch of criticism, some from the same voices. It’s worth noting that she ended up on the right side of the issue. After days of posturing, the House finally went along with extending the payroll tax cut.

Cheers: To Portland-area law enforcement agencies, who this week arrested 31 suspected street gang members and associates. Though most of the gang members live in Oregon — how could they get to Clark County without a “crime train?” — these are the people who run organized drug, theft and prostitution rings that victimize all metro-area residents. And their pattern of violence pervades our thinking and makes us feel uneasy on the streets of one of America’s nicest cities.

Jeers: To $1.2 million spent on the planned execution of Gary Haugen, the Oregon death row murderer who asked to waive his appeals. Gov. John Kitzhaber recently stayed the impending execution on the grounds that the state’s system is unfair: Only prisoners who agree to the sentence are actually executed. Regardless of anyone’s view on the death penalty, it’s tough to see more than a million dollars spent on things such as attorney’s fees, mental exams, and even the drugs for the lethal injection that would have been used to grant Haugen’s last wish. At least Oregon didn’t treat Haugen to steak and lobster before Kitzhaber announced the stay of execution.