In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Remember to shop local this holiday season; Oregon gambling report explains addiction

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Cheers: To holiday shoppers who will flock to Clark County stores this weekend and, we hope, ring the cash registers. Obviously it has been a tough year for retailers, and there’s no reason to believe that seasonal shopping, which traditionally kicks off this weekend, will achieve pre-recession levels. The Wall Street Journal reports consumers will spend about 7 percent less on gifts this season, with the average household shopping list totaling $390.

That makes it more important than ever to buy in Clark County. Shopping in stores here preserves local jobs, encourages expansion of our traditionally anemic retail sector and, through taxes, helps fund vital government services such as education and law enforcement. Oregon already captures more than its share of Clark County’s tax dollars.

Jeers: To people who downplay the connection between legalized gambling and increased social problems. A recent report in The Oregonian shows that more than half of the Oregon Lottery’s revenue comes from a few players, many of whom are addicted to gambling. Just 10 percent of video poker players account for about 53 percent of the money lost on the game. These heavy gamblers lose more than $500 per month.

Some may be able to afford such losses, but too many sink into debt, lie or steal from friends, family members and employers. The industry claims that problem gamblers can exercise their free will to quit anytime. Following that logic, there must not be any more smokers or overweight people left in the United States. More rational thinking would see this report as yet another warning that the proposed Cowlitz Indian casino project near La Center is something our community would be better off without.

Cheers: To Washougal city officials for declining to accept a pay increase in 2010. Washougal’s government has received a lot of bad publicity for shenanigans at city hall, most of which apparently were instigated by former Mayor Stacee Sellers. One of her less-than-brilliant ideas before she was forced from office was to grant 3 percent pay increases to department heads, despite the desperate budget situation.

So it was refreshing to hear that these long-suffering department heads don’t share Sellers’ mayors-gone-wild management philosophy and are declining those raises. We suspect being free of the former mayor’s influence will be a lot more rewarding to these employees than the $15,000 total pay increase.

Jeers: To Seattle talk-radio host Peter Weissbach for staffing his janitorial company with undocumented workers. Weissbach spends weekdays touting conservative views, such as the problems posed by illegal aliens, while at least 100 illegals were toiling for his company, Seattle Building Maintenance. So far more than 100 of the 300 employees in his company have been let go as a result of an immigration audit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Weissbach’s Web site is conspicuously silent on the audit. Presumably he might say his company was targeted by the feds because of his outspoken views. No matter: It’s just plain dumb to ignore federal laws, especially when you spend all day railing about them.

Cheers: To the Vancouver School District Foundation and its “prize patrol.” The foundation is a charitable organization that supports the school district in myriad ways, including awarding small sums to individual teachers for worthwhile projects. This week, it distributed $85,000 to 80 teachers in the manner of those TV commercials where winners are surprised at their door with a big cardboard check and balloons. The surprises, which took place in front of the students, replaces a stuffy “winners’ tea” that wasn’t nearly as fun.