In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Road could lead to opportunity;too many votes for nobody

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Cheers: To a new driveway. Not just the driveway, but for the opportunity it may bring to find a new tenant for the Kyocera Technology Park on Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard. The main building on the 33-acre parcel was vacated in 2001 when AVX closed its factory. However, a sister company, Kyocera Industrial Ceramics, continues to operate on the east part of the site. It's that company that wants its own driveway onto Fourth Plain, leading to speculation that a deal may be at hand to find a new owner and new use for the big, empty building to the west.

Jeers: To lower voter registration numbers. Despite reminders everywhere -- including Facebook -- about a third fewer Washington residents have registered to vote this year, compared with the last presidential election in 2008. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey reports the trend seems to hold true here, too, despite the ease of registering to vote online and voting by mail. The reasons behind the trend depend on whom you ask. Republicans say nonvoters are too disgusted with President Obama; the Democrats blame a bad economy among other factors.

Whatever the reasons, it boils down to more disenfranchised and apparently uninterested citizens. That's not a good sign for democracy.

Cheers: To a new equestrian plan approved this week by Clark County commissioners. You've seen homes set along golf courses. You may have heard of homes set along shared private airstrips. This plan sets rules for developing grouped residential areas with riding arenas, trails and stables. The equestrian-friendly homes could be especially attractive in horse-crazy Clark County, already home to an estimated 29,000 animals. Encouraging more economic activity will benefit the public, and, as any equestrian knows, owning horses is certainly an economic activity.

Jeers: To improper use of prescription drugs. Some people might not think twice about taking a pill from someone else's prescription bottle. But doctors and pharmacists know that's never a good idea, and it's illegal, too.

The Washington State Patrol, which is in the middle of filling a number of job openings, reported recently that its recruiters are seeing an increase in the number of applicants who admit to taking someone else's prescription drugs. Most had legitimate injuries or other reasons for taking medication, but the fact remains that it's a felony in this state to divert medication meant for another person.

Cheers: To big bucks for small animals. The Humane Society for Southwest Washington raised $415,000 at its annual charity dinner and auction last Saturday night. About half of the animal shelter's $2.2 million annual budget comes from donations; the rest comes from fees for service, including pet adoptions. The Humane Society handles more than 10,000 animals a year and employs 55 workers. In addition, more than 400 people volunteer for the society and its programs.

Jeers: To two accidental cuts of fiber-optic cables that had huge implications for Alaska Airlines passengers. Like most large, dispersed businesses, Alaska -- the biggest carrier at PDX -- relies on fiber-optic networks to carry its computer data to all employees and all locations. In Alaska's case, the cable system is owned by Sprint, the national telecommunications provider. There is some redundancy built into Sprint's system, so the first cable cut was invisible to Alaska customers. But the second mishap took down the network last Monday, forcing the airline to cancel some flights and delay many others. Thousands of passengers were stranded or inconvenienced, and everyone was treated to a valuable lesson on how the same technology that makes our lives so easy can quickly turn our expectations into frustrations.