Cheers & Jeers

Teacher of the year sets a great example; jet-setting Gregoire is no accountant

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heers: To Mark Ray, Skyview High School librarian/media specialist and Washington’s Teacher of the Year. The honor was conferred this week in a ceremony at Seattle’s Experience Music Project and science fiction museum, but it has been a long time in the making. Ray’s peers describe his ability to lead projects, particularly those involving technology, as “transformational.” His principal, Kym Tyelyn-Carlson, describes him as a “slayer of ignorance.” In addition, he serves as Skyview’s tennis coach. No wonder that he has received such rare praise and recognition.

Jeers: To our jet-setting governor. Before leaving on her European trade mission in June, she downplayed its cost, and said the tab would total less than $40,000. But a check by The Associated Press showed the cost was nearly $100,000, fueled by $500 per night Parisian hotel rooms, $84 dinners, and $56 lunches. The governor’s office says her trip cost less than junkets by other governors, and that Gregoire’s early estimate didn’t include the cost of her security detail. Gregoire also says that trade missions are important and lead to future economic growth. That may be true, but in a state so tightly strapped for cash, offering such wildly underestimated travel costs is a demonstration of poor leadership.

Cheers: To the federal judge who’s fed up with the Longshore union’s nonsense. Last week, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton fined the International Longshore and Warehouse Union $250,000 for overpowering security guards, damaging railroad cars and dumping grain cars during an ongoing dispute at the Port of Longview. “What’s going on out there is awful,” the judge said. “We have to do something about it, and I’m going to do something.” Let’s hope the judge’s resolute attitude brings peace to the ongoing dispute.

Jeers: To another raise in the state’s minimum wage. Talk about an economic buzz-kill: Employers will have to offer at least $9.04 per hour starting Jan. 1, an increase of 37 cents over the current wage, the nation’s highest. With such a weak economy, firms are unable to increase their bottom lines, making them more prone to shed jobs as labor costs rise. That puts the most vulnerable people, who hold these entry-level jobs, at risk of unemployment — counter-intuitive to the reason the voters tied the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index back in 1998.

Cheers: To the completion of three years of runway work at Portland International Airport. The revitalized runways, including a lengthening of the north runway closest to Vancouver, provide increased economic opportunity for the Port of Portland. But this cheer is for the selfish reason that the conclusion of the work means virtually no traffic will use the cross-wind runway, which routes planes over Vancouver’s McLoughlin Heights at a low altitude, and fewer big jets will use the north runway, which takes them over downtown Vancouver. Too bad the Esther Short Park concert season has concluded.

Jeers: To illegal trafficking in medical marijuana. The Associated Press quotes Oregon’s U.S. attorney, Dwight Holton, as saying medical marijuana from the Beaver State is being diverted to illegal markets in other states. Holton said an informal list kept by prosecutors last year showed 50 pounds diverted to Texas, 43 pounds to Florida, 75 pounds to the East Coast and a whopping 120 pounds to Arkansas. Meanwhile, Oregonians with pot prescription cards say they can’t find any smoke.

Cheers: To the Washington State Cougars and University of Washington Huskies. Should the Cougs beat UCLA today, Washington’s Pac-12 Conference representatives will boast an impressive 8-2 combined record (UW is idle this week.) Oregon Ducks fans may scoff now.