In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

The challenge of a food stamp budget;advisory votes waste taxpayers' time

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Cheers: To trying to live on a food budget of $8 per day. Or, actually, to Audrey and Conner Williams, a young Vancouver couple who are attempting what would seem to be the impossible. Audrey is a nutrition educator and AmeriCorps worker at the Clark County Food Bank, where many of the customers participate in the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The SNAP program, also known as food stamps, pays for a little over $4 per person per day for basic groceries (not prepared or hot food.)By living like the clients do, the Williamses, each 22 years old and recent university graduates, will be better able to understand some of the challenges facing SNAP recipients, many of whom are older and less educated. And by sharing their story this week, National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, the Williamses help the rest of us realize what it must be like to not have enough.

Jeers: To useless advisory votes. If all of the different ballot measures and referendums weren't enough for voters to study, politicians weighted down an already thick general election ballot with two advisory measures, the outcome of which will do zilch to change anyone's taxes or steer state policy. The state Legislature already ended a tax loophole for large out-of-state banks; despite the 57.2 percent of voters who said the banks' tax break should be restored, it's unlikely the Democrat-controlled Legislature will do so. Ditto for the second advisory vote, which concerned extending a petroleum pollution tax that was due to expire next year. More than 55 percent of voters thought the oil companies deserve a break, but it's not likely the Legislature will revisit its decision.

These advisory votes are the brainchild of initiative organizer Tim Eyman, whose Initiative 960, passed in 2007, authorized voting on any tax increases, extensions or closing of loopholes. Thanks to Eyman, we can expect more of these gems that waste our time and the government's money, while the Legislature continues with business as usual. As the Spokesman-Review of Spokane notes, if voters really want to repeal a lot of taxes on business, they shouldn't keep re-electing incumbent Democrats.

Cheers: To green shoots of economic growth sprouting in the Camas-Washougal area. Two recent developments: acquisition of the half of the old Hambleton Lumber Co. site at the Port of Camas-Washougal, and news that two biotech companies are kicking the tires at sites in the Camas area.

The port district is the purchaser of 13.25 acres of the old Hambleton mill, which adjoins 14 acres of existing port property. The plan is to work with Killian Pacific, a private developer based in Vancouver, to breathe new life into 40 acres of waterfront, including commercial and retail business along with residential and recreational uses.

Meanwhile Paul Dennis, east county's economic development official, says he has been working with two different biotech companies seeking to invest in new facilities. Both bring with them the promise of high-skill, high-pay jobs.

Jeers: To candle fire season. Combine the shortest days of the year with holiday decorating, and you get the very real danger of a candle fire. Just this week, a fire blamed on an unattended candle caused major damage to a Vancouver fourplex, and the occupants of one unit were saved by jumping out of a window. The U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA, says that on average, 42 home candle fires are reported every day. December is the peak month for candle fires due to holiday decorations.

More than half of these fires start when the candle is placed too close to something flammable, such as furniture, bedding or draperies. Falling asleep or leaving candles unattended are major danger factors.