In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Long-term care providers ranked high; bridge-toll contractor plagued by problems

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Cheers: To those in Washington who provide long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities. According to a two-year study by the AARP Public Policy Institute, The Commonwealth Fund, and the SCAN Foundation, Washington ranks second in the nation in terms of providing quality care for those who need it most. Only Minnesota scored better.

Washington scored particularly well in the percentage of Medicaid spending going toward home and community-based care, and in support for family caregivers. It also scored well in terms of providing consumers with choices for long-term care.

As the population continues to age, the issue of long-term care will grow in importance. We hope Washington remains at the forefront.

Jeers: To continued confusion and delays in Washington’s bridge tolling system. Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp. could be fined as much as $12 million for delays in setting up tolling systems on the state Highway 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridges. But state officials won’t assess the penalty because they don’t want to delay the projects. A fine could drive the contractor out of business, and the state doesn’t want to start over with a new contractor.

If our state can’t get its tolling act together on these two projects to the north, the public will lose any confidence that tolling can be a reliable source of revenue elsewhere in the state.

Cheers: To those who participated in the Hands Across the Bridge event. A crowd of 2,262 recovering addicts and their supporters recently gathered on the Interstate 5 Bridge to celebrate sobriety.

For many of them, addiction led to lost jobs, lost homes and lost families. And while they are winning their fight, Monday’s event can only help provide further strength in a battle that never ends. The large crowd also serves as a reminder of addiction’s vast toll. When addicts are unable to care for themselves or their families, we all suffer.

Jeers: How often do you hear someone exclaim that local drivers are the “worst in the world”? Too often, we suspect. But how valid is that complaint, really? Usually, it’s based on anecdotal evidence, not any kind of trend analysis or statistical review. This Jeer is for those complainers, and we’ve got the evidence to support the rebuke. Allstate Insurance Company ranks the country’s 200 largest cities for driver safety, based largely on each resident’s average frequency of accidents. Vancouver recently was ranked 64th in the nation (same as last year), with per-capita accidents occurring once in just under 10 years. Vancouver’s ranking is among the top third of the cities reviewed. We suspect similar driving skills are exhibited countywide.

Portland ranks in the bottom half of the rankings, at 128th, while Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue all are in the 140s. Fort Collins, Colo., is the safest place in the nation to drive, and Washington, D.C., ranks last. So, next time someone cuts you off on Mill Plain or Main, don’t fall among the Jeered complainers. Remember the ranking and cross it off as an anomaly.

Cheers: To continued studies of Mount St. Helens, this time in assessing the risk of landslides.

The latest experiments involve a low-flying helicopter that deploys scientific devices to measure the electrical resistance in rocks around the volcano’s crater. This tells scientists how much water is present in the rocks, and allows them to determine the risk of slides.

For three decades now, Mount St. Helens has provided a real-world laboratory for geologists. The latest experiments will provide information about the mountain itself, but also about the changing world that surrounds us.