In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Mountain View volunteers help food banks; Gregoire ignores own sermon on diversity

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Cheers: To more than four dozen football players, cheerleaders, coaches and parents from Mountain View High School who took time on Aug. 23 to make double contributions to the improvement of their community. First, by weeding 10-plus acres of carrots at Clark County’s 78th Street Heritage Farm, they bolstered the agricultural productivity of the urban farm that helps sustain many old farming traditions. Second, the Mountain View High School volunteers helped the Clark County Food Bank, which receives thousands of pounds of vegetables — especially carrots — from the farm for distribution to area food pantries that serve people in need.

Jeers: To Gov. Chris Gregoire for failing to follow her own advice about diversity. A spokesman for the governor said recently that she has placed an emphasis on minority recruitment and retention.

But after Gregoire has shuffled her leadership team for the past 16 months of her final term (she announced earlier this year that she would not run for re-election), the roster shows that her entire senior staff is white and her cabinet of 26 has only two people who aren’t white.

That’s in a state where minorities have climbed to more than one-quarter of the population. According to an Associated Press analysis, Gregoire’s emphasis on diversity has yet to be seen in the state workforce; only 18 percent of state employees are minorities. By comparison, Gregoire’s predecessor, Gary Locke, installed seven minorities among his 27 cabinet secretaries.

Cheers: To our Canadian friends whose federal government recently waived the border clearance fee, a move that allows the second Amtrak line between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., to continue.

Gov. Gregoire said the decision is “fantastic news … for those businesses that have greatly benefited from the second Amtrak line. There’s no question the second train has helped our economic recovery, leading to a significant increase in tourism spending on both sides of the border.”

The second train also helps ease border congestion by removing thousands of vehicles from roadways. Close coordination between the Canadian government and the U.S. Homeland Security Department was needed to continue waiving the border clearance fee.

Jeers: To typos, both our own and those by our governments. At the risk of being caught with a typo in this installment of Cheers & Jeers, we’ll poke a little fun at Clark County government for the “NW 1th Ct” street sign in the Salmon Creek area.

The mistake was reported in Wednesday’s “What’s Up With That?” story on the front page of The Columbian’s Life section. County Public Works Spokesman Jeff Mize said the mistake will be corrected to “1st” because the county takes emergency response very seriously “and we don’t want to take any chances, period.”

That’s good, but we still have to wonder what the “editors” were thinking when the street sign was printed and then when it was erected on that corner. It’s the same kind of “what were you thinking?” dilemma that newspaper folks endure much more often than we’d like.

Cheers: To the new version of the Army’s eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle that features a “double V hull” that better deflects bomb blasts.

The new design, plus extra armor installed on the newer vehicles, will help divert explosions from buried bombs often encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The safety upgrades come just in time; more than 3,200 Stryker soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma are scheduled to deploy in December for a one-year mission in Afghanistan.