In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Native canoe event offers living history; legislators find there is a free lunch

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Cheers: To Paddle to Quinault. Native American canoeists from 90 American tribes and Canadian First Nations were involved in this year's journeys from their native lands to this year's host Quinault Indian Nation on the Olympic Peninsula.Bill Iyall, chairman of the Cowlitz Tribe, was on hand this week when three canoes representing four Northwest tribes landed at Vancouver, where they camped for the night at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on their way downriver.

"It's really tough for our young people to reconnect with their heritage without being able to practice it," said Iyall, who noted that the canoe was part of the culture of so many Northwest tribes. The event also serves as a reminder to the general public of Native American culture and history, and how this area would have been before the arrival of Lewis and Clark's corps and Captain Vancouver's crew.

Jeers: To legislators' big lunches. It's not so much the calorie count — we could probably stand to lose a few pounds, too — as the dollar count that adds up to criticism. A legislative ethics panel is collecting information on how often legislators accepted free meals from lobbyists and plans to release a report in September. The current law prohibits legislators from accepting meals from lobbyists on more than "infrequent occasions," but some porky pols managed to eat their way through as much as $2,000 in free food in just the first four months of this year. The five gourmands who ate the most — none are from Clark County — are the target of an ethics complaint.

For what it's worth, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, was the top Clark County accepter of these free lunches. His tab totaled $712.24 from January through April. The lowest Clark County tab was Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, at $285.72.

Cheers: To Dingo, the Washougal Police Department's K-9 officer, who has announced his October retirement after seven years of service. At 9 years old he's perhaps a little on the young side to retire, but it seems one of his specialties is detecting even small amounts of marijuana. Thanks to Washington voters, that skill is now much less in demand.

The city plans to get a new dog that will be cross-trained in detection of still-illegal drugs and apprehension of criminals.

In the meantime, Dingo will live with longtime handler Kyle Day and his family. Maybe he can even catch a rerun of the "Cops" TV episode in which he is seen sniffing out a pound and a half of cocaine in Portland.

Jeers: To a rule change that requires counties to hold primary elections every time a partisan position is up for grabs, even if there is only one candidate. The rule change, OK'd by this year's Legislature, is costing Chelan County in Central Washington an extra $100,000 this August. There, voters will have the rare opportunity to vote in a countywide primary election featuring exactly one race with exactly one candidate.

Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, told The Wenatchee World she smells politics behind the rules change.

Other elections rules allow partisan candidates to accept another $900 per donor in campaign contributions every time their name appears on the ballot. So though counties may incur extra costs, candidates can receive extra benefits. The rule mandating primaries should be repealed.

Cheers: To the new "playscape" at St. Joseph Catholic School's preschool. The playground, in the last phases of installation, is the first of its kind locally. It's designed to fire the imagination of 21st century children.

Though it'll be open only to church preschoolers, the playground could act as an inspiration for public playgrounds to follow.