In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Home foreclosures trending down; CRC construction delay will cost us

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Cheers: To fewer home foreclosures in Clark County. New figures show that 169 local homes were foreclosed upon in Clark County in January, the lowest monthly level in four years, according to The Columbian’s Cami Joner. That’s down 56 percent from last January and 14 percent from December.But there are several ways to read the tea leaves. On one hand, it could signal the worst is over for what has been one of the state’s most beleaguered housing markets. On the other hand, it could be a lull in the storm. Some economists are predicting a large increase nationally in the number of foreclosures later this year. One thing is certain: consumer confidence, and with it the economy, won’t rebound as long as people know people who are losing their homes.

Jeers: To delaying the start of construction on the Columbia River Crossing. Officials had hoped for a 2013 start date, but warned all along that it was optimistic. Now a candid reassessment pushes the start of the project into 2014. The main problem is that Oregon and Washington legislatures have yet to appropriate the money needed to purchase property in the project’s right-of-way and to fund other key elements of the project. The delay isn’t fatal, but project costs are likely to continue to rise in the meantime.

Cheers: To better traffic signal technology that will speed C-Tran buses along the Mill Plain corridor. Board members recently awarded a contract to modernize traffic lights at nearly two dozen intersections between Fort Vancouver Way and Southeast 160th Avenue.

The signals will be able to sense when an approaching bus is running late, and, if traffic isn’t too backed up on side streets, will keep the light green until the bus passes. The traffic lights will be modernized by this summer, and initially about 50 C-Tran buses will be outfitted with transmitters to trigger the signals.

Jeers: To the City of North Bonneville, which was criticized in a recent state auditor’s report for failing to properly manage its financial information in 2009-10. The small town near Bonneville Dam has since hired a new clerk/treasurer, but the damage has been done. The city’s total cash and investments declined by more than $900,000 in those years, leading to deficits or shortfalls in several city funds. The mismanagement may force the city to take out some loans to keep services at current levels.

Cheers: To the state attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division, which handles consumer complaints against businesses. Last year the division’s free mediation services saved consumers more than $4 million, according to a news release. The industries that generated more than 900 complaints each were telecommunications, collection agencies, broadband service providers, retailers, auto sales and commercial banking. The Vancouver office, at 1220 Main St., Suite 549, can be reached by phone at 360-759-2150. The website is http://www.atg.wa.gov.

Jeers: To frivolous requests by jail inmates. Case in point: Holly Grigsby, the white supremacist allegedly involved in a string of hate-inspired murders last summer. This week she and her attorneys wasted two hours of an Everett court’s time asserting her rights to buy treats from the Snohomish County Jail’s commissary, including Cocoa Puffs cereal and candy bars.

Jails should be managed for the safety of the prisoners, efficiency for the staff, and cost savings for the taxpayers, not for a defendant’s chocolate cereal cravings.