Cheers: To Vancouver's sister city of Joyo, Japan, which celebrates its 40th year of incorporation next week. The community of 81,000 lies between Kyoto and Nara, in the Yamashiro Basin, and has been our sister city since 1995. Over the years there have been many cultural exchanges. This summer, a 12-member Joyo delegation traveled here for the dedication of the Royce E. Pollard Japanese Friendship Garden at Clark College. Former mayor Bruce Hagensen has been to Joyo many times, and will represent us at Joyo's anniversary celebration. He'll take with him two copies of a 23-page scrapbook detailing our relationship over the years, each encased in a handcrafted wooden box. Like other aspects of the sister city program, Hagensen's travel will be paid for privately; no city funds are used. The Vancouver Rotary Club is a frequent contributor. In our Facebook world, sister cities may seem as outdated as pen pals. Our official friendship may never lead to a blockbuster business deal. But, as in the words of Joyo's city charter, it allows us to "love our neighbors and extend a chain of human relations."
Jeers: To continued suffering by the U.S. Postal Service. It's a no-brainer that as email and other forms of electronic messaging and communication proliferate, there's less traditional mail, particularly the most lucrative first-class mail. So the postal service has had to deal with declining revenue, even as its fixed costs rise. An especially onerous burden imposed by Congress is a unique requirement to fully fund employee health care obligations 75 years into the future. So it's understandable why costs must be cut.
Unfortunately, it looks like Washington voters will be among the victims. The planned closure of five of Washington's seven mail-processing centers could force voters in some rural areas to vote before Election Day in order to get their ballots postmarked on time. And it would lead to more delays in tabulating the votes, already the chink in the armor of what otherwise is a great way to practice democracy.
Cheers: To today's Walk & Knock Food Drive, the biggest of the year in Clark County. The scope of the food drive is immense -- approximately 4,000 volunteers will visit almost every front porch in the area today, collecting perhaps 140 tons of food that will go directly to the Clark County Food Bank for sorting and distribution to emergency food pantries around the county. This is the 28th year for the drive, and it's easy to participate. Fill a bag with nonperishable food donations, diapers or toiletries and leave it on your front porch by 9 a.m. If you can't meet the deadline, or are missed by a volunteer collector, take your donation to any Clark County Les Schwab Tire store or Riverview Community Bank branch over the next few days.
The need for food donations is a constant in good times and bad; hungry children should never be a political issue.
Jeers: State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, is certainly free to declare victory anytime he chooses. But the statesmanlike approach is to wait until someone else calls the race or the opponent concedes, preferably both. Benton, though, couldn't wait to proclaim "the beauty of this victory," which awaits a recount, and for which no certificate of election has been issued .
Sure, it looks like Benton will be the winner of a fifth term after a recount of ballots in his razor-thin race against Democratic challenger Tim Probst. If so, congratulations will be in order. And yes, politics is hard-ball; this particular race has been brutal from the outset. But it's too bad that Benton couldn't wait for the finish line to start celebrating and chose to abandon the more dignified approach.