In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Some legislators always cast a vote; feral cat problem starts with humans

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Cheers: To Southwest Washington lawmakers who missed no votes in the recent legislative session. Those tallying perfect attendance through 498 separate House votes were Reps. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver; Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama; Tim Probst, D-Vancouver; and Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver.In the Senate, none of the county’s three senators could boast of making every vote. Ridgefield Sen. Joe Zarelli, who plays a leadership role for the Republicans on budget issues, missed 45 votes, which was one of the worst records in the Senate. He explains that many of the missed votes came in the last two weeks of the session, when he was working behind closed doors trying to craft a budget that would pass both houses. Meanwhile, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, missed 13 votes and Don Benton, R-Vancouver, missed seven. That’s a big improvement for Benton, who missed 79 votes in 2011, 56 in 2010, and a whopping 157 of 847 votes in 2009.

Jeers: To the people behind the feral cat problem. Roaming Vancouver’s Northwest neighborhood and other parts of the county, these progeny of former house pets can spread disease and pose other problems like any other invasive species. Some folks adopt the thin, sometimes starving cats, and the Humane Society for Southwest Washington took in 570 of them last year. But the better solution would be for cat owners to act to have their pets spayed or neutered, and, if they find themselves unable to continue to care for an animal, to find it a responsible new home rather than turn it loose.

Cheers: To a new round of C-Tran fare increases. It’s unfortunate that in this down economy costs continue to rise, particularly for items such as fuel and tires. But that’s the reality that transit agencies face. In response, C-Tran has proposed raising most fares by a nickel, which would be the fifth straight year of modest increases in ticket prices. A ride in Clark County would now cost $1.65, while the most expensive trip -- the express commuter service to Portland -- would be $3.50. C-Tran officials concede that any fare increases result in a decrease in ridership. But it’s more important to have transit users help pay for the higher costs of providing the service.

Jeers: To a $2.5 million per year loophole in the state pay regulations that results in more than 400 state employees being paid more than they are officially worth. This loophole is called the Y-rating. It continues former levels of pay for state managers who no longer manage, specialists who aren’t special, and others who once worked in higher-paid positions and kept their salaries after being reassigned to lower-rated jobs. In some cases, the pay differential is $15,000 a year or more. That’s not only unfair to the state, it’s unfair to other state employees who perform the exact same jobs for regular pay. The Y-rating loophole needs to go away.

Cheers: To local moms trying to save Sensory Camp. The mothers have 30 days to raise $30,000 to preserve the metro area’s only summer day camp for autistic and other special-needs children. The camp has been a success, but had to be cut this year as part of a general round of cuts to local parks programs. To donate, call the Parks Foundation at 360-487-8370. There’s also a Facebook page at http://facebook.com/SaveTheSensoryCamp.

Jeers: To U.S. District Judge James Redden. The Oregon jurist, who recused himself from the too-long-running legal dispute over Snake River salmon last year, said he thinks that Snake River dams need to be breached, and that the process would be “a lot easier than putting them up. … You just dig out the ditch and let (the water) go around.” By that token, being a judge is easy -- just make the right decision for the overall economy of the Pacific Northwest.