InOur View: Cheers & Jeers

Growth at WSU Vancouver;abuse of citizen rights in Camas



Cheers: Washington State University Vancouver has welcomed what is expected to be the largest freshman class in school history as the university continues to expand its footprint on the community. The numbers aren’t official yet, but freshman enrollment is believed to be greater than the previous high of 210 in 2008.

With steady growth since humble beginnings as a two-year college 18 years ago, the university has consistently demonstrated that this part of the state was, indeed, underserved by the higher-education system. Offering many students an option more affordable than leaving home for school, WSUV’s enrollment has grown to about 3,000. Along the way, the university has become an integral part of Vancouver and has established itself as an linchpin in a successful future for the region.

Jeers: Some people think nothing of abusing a system that is designed to protect all citizens. Such is the case in Camas, where a former city employee has burdened city staff with requests for copies of as many as 700,000 emails. One sample request: All emails to and from the city’s mayors and city councilors over a seven-year period.

Public-records laws allow citizens to request records from public officials, and such requests are an important function of a functioning democracy. They can be crucial to the watchdog role of both media outlets and the citizenry. But abuse of that system — requests born out of a grudge rather than a genuine need to know — is harmful to everybody. Fulfilling such requests takes staff time that could be spent doing the work of the people rather than one disgruntled person.

Cheers: Vancouver successfully pulled off its inaugural Sunday Streets Alive, closing a 4.2-mile loop of roads around downtown to cars, and making way for bikers, walkers, and street festivals. Thousands of people took advantage of sunny skies to partake, getting a look at the city from a unique vantage point as they rode past Officers Row and the Uptown area.

The gist of the event: A five-hour street fair with an emphasis on getting out, exercising, and seeing fellow members of the community face-to-face. Portland has held a similar series of Sunday bike rides in recent years, and with the communal feeling that was generated from this week’s event in Vancouver, we hope it will become an annual opportunity on this side of the river.

Jeers: State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and lottery officials are warning about a spike in lottery scams in which victims are tricked into believing they have won a prize. The ploy, apparently, is to get people to reveal personal financial information in order to collect their prize.

State officials stress that representatives of Washington’s Lottery never seek personal information from lottery players, and a little common sense should protect people from becoming victims. In addition, a new brochure, “What you should know about lottery scams,” is available at lottery outlets.

Cheers: There’s good news out of Washington’s wheat crop this year, and that means good news for the entire state. Reports suggest that commodity prices are high, and the per-acre yield is near record levels. According to the Washington Grain Commission, Eastern Washington produces about 41 percent of the nation’s white wheat crop, meaning that the industry is crucial to the state’s economic well-being.

Much of that product is exported to South Korea or Japan, and the industry faced a scare earlier this year when those nations temporarily halted imports because of a genetically modified crop strain. Those fears appear to have diminished, and Asia once again is welcoming wheat imports from the Northwest. Washington’s wheat industry is open for business — and business is good.