In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Crime rates fall in Clark County; judge’s conduct ends a long career

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Cheers: To less crime in Clark County last year. Data compiled by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs showed a decline in both violent and property crimes in 2011, with total reported crime falling by 5.8 percent. Reports of violent crime, including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, fell 2.9 percent. Property crimes such as burglary and theft were down 6 percent in Clark County as a whole.

Jeers: To former Clark County Superior Court Judge Edwin Poyfair. Poyfair, 68, retired from the bench April 30, and admits an investigation into his actions forced him to retire before his planned date. The Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct last week censured Poyfair for violating judicial canons in his handling of two parental custody cases last year. The conduct commission found that he had intimidated one child’s biological father and in another case called a parent a liar. Poyfair disputes the allegations. However, it resulted in an unfortunate end to Poyfair’s 20-year career on the bench.

Cheers: To the annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ food drive, which takes place today. Since 1993, the annual event has been an important milestone in the efforts to keep local hungry people fed year-round. Last year’s effort resulted in more than 1.4 million pounds of food being collected in Oregon and Southwest Washington, where it was later distributed. To participate, fill the bag you should have received in the mail this week, or any other sturdy bag, with food and leave it by your mailbox before today’s mail delivery. If you miss the deadline, or can’t donate today, take your food to any post office by Wednesday.

Jeers: To toxins in the Columbia River. A federal study released this week found more than 100 toxic substances from everyday life are making their way through municipal sewage treatment plants and into the river. The toxins included flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, personal care products, mercury, and cleaning products. The report included studies of water samples from nine treatment plants on the lower river, from Wenatchee to Longview, including Vancouver. Next, scientists will need to do more to identify the potential threats posed by the substances and what might be done to mitigate them.

Cheers: To a new phase of construction on the long-planned project to better connect downtown Vancouver with the Columbia River waterfront. The city is in the midst of a $44 million project to improve access to the former Boise Cascade mill site downstream of the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, which will be redeveloped into a district of residential, office, retail and recreational uses. But first a pair of century-old railroad bridges -- which are too low to allow many modern vehicles to pass underneath -- will be replaced in a project that is now starting. The next phase will be reconstruction of several downtown streets, which could go to contract later this year. When that work is done, downtown residents will reap the side benefit of the elimination of two grade-level railroad crossings and the dozens of horn blasts that accompany them all day and, especially, at night.

Jeers: To allergy season. The flip side of our beautiful spring and this weekend’s warm weather, hay fever is rapidly approaching its seasonal peak. Dr. Gregory Owens at The Vancouver Clinic shared his advice with LiveWell readers in Monday’s Columbian. He says stay ahead of the symptoms with medication; keep windows closed and use the air conditioning on peak pollen days; and keep yourself and your clothes clean, particularly after being outside. And don’t let the dog jump up on your lap.