In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Burgerville seeks sustainable expansion; job market for teens remains lousy

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Cheers to Burgerville's commitment to sustainable, local, socially responsible business growth. The Vancouver-based fast-food chain continues to draw accolades for its thoughtful business principles and tasty, regionally sourced food, but until this week hadn't opened a new restaurant in more than a decade. A few years ago, there were some ambitious expansion plans, but the recession gave Burgerville's lender cold feet, and the deals never came together. Times still aren't great, so it's good to see Burgerville move ahead with new growth plans. The new restaurant is in Tigard, Ore. CEO Jeff Harvey says the company plans to open one or two new restaurants per year in the next few years. All of the new locations will be carefully chosen, and the start-up costs will be self-financed. That's perfect for a company that believes in sustainability.Jeers to a lousy job market for teens. It's easy to grumble about your teenager -- or even 20-something -- staying home this summer with too little to do and no prospect of work. But increasingly, it's hard to blame indolence. Washington State Employment Security Department statistics show that fewer than 2 out of 10 teens ages 14 to 18 hold jobs in Clark County. Only 20 years ago, 6 in 10 teens that age held jobs in the county. There are many reasons, ranging from the horrible job market to a high minimum wage that can discourage job creation, but the consequences are real. Jobs teach teens important skills -- show up on time, be part of a team -- and reinforce our society's expectation that people will work for a living.

Cheers: To Rhonda Boni-Burden, the lone citizen member of the Columbia River Crossing legislative oversight committee. The Washougal woman, who works in the freight logistics industry, said she likes to ask tough questions and doesn't have a pre-existing opinion on the transportation megaproject. Let's also hope she has a thick skin and a good sense of equilibrium, as all the rabid CRC critics and spin doctors take their shots at her.

Jeers: To stray dogs left to roam. Here's what happens to after-hours calls involving pets that are not injured or considered dangerous: nothing. Animal control officers will only respond if there is a threat or injury, the Humane Society for Southwest Washington is closed and Vancouver police won't respond to calls about friendly stray dogs. In, fact, callers to 911 are advised to either keep the dog until the shelter opens, or turn it loose and let it run. That's not an ideal solution in a county of more than 433,000 people.

Cheers: To a plan to clean up Portland's polluted harbor and provide quality habitat for salmon, bald eagles and other wildlife. It's still possible to catch a migrating fish within sight of the Morrison Bridge, but the Willamette River also is the stream that has regularly washed raw sewage into the Columbia River and onto the beaches at Clark County's Frenchman's Bar. The Portland harbor, with its feet of polluted muck and degraded shoreline, was named a federal Superfund site a decade ago. This week, a cleanup plan was released after five years of study. It includes 44 restoration projects. The cost wasn't included, but is estimated to be from $200 million to $1.7 billion, depending on what menu of projects are chosen. Though the lower Willamette is a long way from clean, at least it's a start.

Jeers: To backers of Initiative 1192, which would have defined marriage in Washington as between "one man and one woman." Backers recently admitted they fell short of signatures needed to make the ballot. Their initiative is not to be confused with Referendum 74, which would block the same-sex marriage laws approved by the Legislature this year. That measure made the November ballot, which prompts this question: Why distract from your own cause by pushing Initiative 1192?