Cheers: To a predicted "golden age" for high-tech companies in Portland and Clark County. The technology economy has received its share of bruises so far this century, so it was a change to hear good news shared at a Portland technology conference attended by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The entrepreneurs at the conference talked about how there are already 8,000 local jobs developing software "apps" for smart phones, tablets and mobile devices, and said that chronic problems such as lack of access to venture capital seemed to be easing. Of course, there are challenges. The Silicon Forest is still overshadowed by California, and there aren't enough app developers coming out of local colleges.Jeers: To a proposed mine in a remote area of Alaska that would have direct consequences in our state. The Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, would be a source of gold and other minerals, but the huge mine also would threaten the world's most productive salmon run, according to Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell. The Environmental Protection Agency figures the huge mine would block up to 87 miles of streams, and Cantwell's office says nearly 1,000 Washington residents hold commercial fishing permits in Bristol Bay. In 2008, Bristol Bay commercial fishing accounted for $113 million in economic activity in Washington, not including another $75 million in activity generated by recreational salmon fishing.
Cheers: To Virgin America, a domestic cousin of the cheeky airline that provides strong competition, both in fares and in service, on overseas routes. Virgin America has launched nonstop twice-daily service between Portland International Airport and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Virgin America serves 17 other cities, so passengers can connect to other popular destinations such as New York, Orlando or even Cancun.
Jeers: To Backpage.com, the unit of Village Voice Media that has come under fire for running online prostitution advertisements. In Washington, a company attorney has tried to position Backpage.com as "an ally in the fight against human trafficking." However, Attorney General Rob McKenna notes that Backpage has sued the state over a new law that would encourage ID checks before prostitution ads are placed online, in part to reduce the incidence of trafficking juveniles. Backpage notes that it doesn't write these sex ads, but it should be ashamed of itself for accepting them.
Cheers: To an expanded role for a charity that has been best known for providing Christmas gifts to Hazel Dell children. Three Creeks Community Partners grew out of the Northeast Hazel Dell Neighborhood Association's annual Christmas party, and is now organizing a similar gathering to be held in July. The organizers see many more opportunities for charitable work in the greater Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek area, from helping senior citizens who can't afford all of their prescriptions to influencing the uses of Clark County's Heritage Farm on Northeast 78th Street. The group's website is http://ThreeCreeksCommunityPartners.org.
Jeers: To a technicality that will prevent a group of rape victims from speaking out at a parole hearing for the man who attacked them. Richard Troy Gillmore is a notorious serial rapist in Oregon whose crimes date back as far as the 1970s. Eventually he was sent to prison after being convicted of a single count of raping a 13-year-old girl, even though he admitted to several more assaults. Now, according to The Oregonian, Gillmore is up for release, and due to an obscure rule the parole board will not be allowed to hear from two of his other confessed victims because he was not convicted in their cases.