In our view: Cheers & Jeers

The best politicians are the tidiest; glitches delay some ballots

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Cheers: To tidy political candidates. The winner of this year’s “Beautify Southwest Washington” campaign is likely Woodland Mayor-elect Grover Laseke. When called by a reporter on election night, Laseke wasn’t home. He wasn’t out at some victory party. Instead, he was out pulling down his campaign signs. Other neat candidates, including Vancouver City Councilor Larry Smith, were out Wednesday morning gathering their signs.

Jeers: To various glitches that kept thousands of Washington residents from promptly receiving their general election ballots. According to KPLU-FM, a Seattle-area National Public Radio affiliate, the first was in King County, where 11,000 voters didn’t get ballots until about a week before the election. The problem was traced to a computer that crashed while the mailing list of voters was being transmitted to the company that mails the ballots. About 1 percent of the electorate was skipped because the computer had to be rebooted. Then the state uncovered another problem that affected 21,000 voters statewide. In this case, the voters had used a check box on the Department of Licensing’s website to update their voter registration when they updated their driver’s license, but the information was never transmitted to the Secretary of State’s office. Many of the affected voters were able to use provisional ballots.

Cheers: To Vancouver city leadership for finally moving ahead on a salary comparison survey that includes both public and private sector workers. The compensation study is to be undertaken next year and the results will be available by September 2012. It will include comparisons between city employee pay and private sector pay, a look at how the city could offer more performance-based pay, and a review of the city’s compensation policies and structure. “The complete (employment) picture has changed in the last few years,” said Elizabeth Gotelli, the city’s human resources manager. A clearer picture will only make the city’s compensation policies more realistic when compared with the private sector.

Jeers: To TriMet. Last month, a camera at the Expo Center station in north Portland caught a MAX train barreling through the station and striking a barrier at the end of the line, causing significant damage to the train. No one was injured, but damage to the train was estimated at more than $25,000. Word got around about the accident, but TriMet at first acknowledged only a “minor service disruption.” When rumors of the accident video surfaced, a TriMet spokesman said it didn’t exist, and that he didn’t know of any accident. Finally, someone who had obtained a bootleg copy of the video posted it on the Internet. So did TriMet apologize for misleading the public? Not so much. In fact, it launched an investigation into a bus driver who put the video on his blog.

Cheers: To the Camas Fire Department, which has the best success rate for treating cardiac arrest patients among 11 emergency medical services agencies in the greater Portland area. Camas also placed fifth out of 102 EMS agencies in the United States, according to a clinical research group. Probably one of the key reasons Camas patients fare so well is that the agency was quick to adopt new CPR recommendations issued by the American Heart Association in 2010. The new guidelines call for chest compressions to be faster and deeper than before, stopping less to give rescue breathing. Clark County has about 300 cardiac arrest calls in a year. In about a third of those cases the emergency responders are able to re-establish a heart rhythm and transport the patient to a hospital.

Jeers: To Oregon public employee unions for suing to block release of public employee pension data. The public deserves to know what it is paying for, and to whom.

Correction: The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to erect 31 signs to replace fewer than half a dozen unofficial signs that were placed near the Interstate 5 Bridge. The unofficial signs will be removed during routine maintenance. The new signs have been approved and will be placed by the end of the year. A Jeer in the Nov. 5 Columbian contained incorrect information about the signs.