In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Columbia River fishing records fall; joint training idea fails to catch fire

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Cheers: To a dozen sport-fishing records broken on the Columbia River in 2011. Maybe it was because of the high water flow caused by heavy spring rains. Maybe it was because “guys are starting to figure a lot of things out,” in the words of Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Whatever it was, the fishing was good last year. And the 2012 outlook is favorable for sockeye salmon and summer chinook. If you don’t fish — even if you don’t eat fish — there’s some good news here, in that record fish catches suggest that the billions of your taxpayer and ratepayer dollars being poured into fish enhancement must be having some effect.

Jeers: To a decision by the Vancouver Fire Department to withdraw from a training group it had jointly formed with two other local fire agencies just last May. City Fire Chief Joe Molina told The Columbian’s Paul Suarez that integrating the city’s way of doing things with the way fire districts do things was just too difficult. In other words, the bureaucracies don’t align.

That’s too bad, because the training group had the possibility of saving $300,000 in taxpayer money annually. Now the city will hire another training fire chief at a minimum salary exceeding $90,000 per year, plus benefits. That’s a lot of money. We wish Molina would reconsider, and try to find a way to make it work.

Cheers: To Lisa Walters, chosen by her fellow city councilors this week to be the new mayor of Battle Ground. With 10 years of solid service on the city council, she’s no stranger to local issues. So her election to the mayor’s chair was both a reward and a recognition that she’s the best person for the job. Still, it is worth noting Walters is the first female mayor in Battle Ground’s 61-year municipal history, leaving Vancouver as the lone Clark County city to never have a woman as its top elected official. As The Columbian’s Andrea Damewood reported last year, women are under-represented in local politics, but at least there are fewer of these “first woman to” records left to fall.

Jeers: To pranksters who recently called local people in the middle of the night, claiming to be from Clark Public Utilities or the city of Vancouver, and telling them their power was going to be shut off in order to perform maintenance. If the sleepy people were awake enough to consult their caller ID, they would have seen the pranksters had even hijacked the utility’s phone number, making the request seem more legitimate. The calls, of course, are bogus — whoever heard of such nonsense as 2 a.m. electrical maintenance? — and anyone with a concern should call the real Clark Public Utilities before taking any action.

Cheers: To a new Child Abuse Assessment Team at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. The team, led by Dr. Kim Copeland, tends exclusively to local children from infancy to 18 years old suspected of being victims of physical or sexual abuse. Most of the referrals come from the emergency department, the foster care system or law enforcement officers. Just from the end of October to early December, Copeland saw 25 patients and provided 36 consultations for state child abuse cases. It’s a shame the services are in such demand, but it’s a blessing that there is a place that can gather evidence to help prosecute the guilty and help to heal the victimized.

Jeers: To this kind of health care system in the world’s richest country: The uninsured are now turning to Groupon and Daily Deals type of discount websites to find affordable care. Two problems: What happens when that angioplasty Uncle Charlie needs isn’t on sale today? And what kind of additional pricing pressure does that put on those of us suckers with health insurance, who pay the list price?