In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Fisher invests itself in Camas;Kaiser's HIV testing forgets key step

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Cheers: To local investment by Fisher Investments. The company's owner and CEO, Ken Fisher, confirmed this week that he'll construct a second office building on his budding corporate campus in Camas. The $17 million he'll spend on the structure will bring Fisher's total investment here to $47 million.The five-story building will be large enough to accommodate 700 workers. Fisher already employs 445 in Camas and has room for 150 more in its current building, so the second structure suggests employment may top 1,000 here in a few years. That would vault Fisher toward the top of the list of private employers. Because Fisher is a financial services firm, many of its employees are highly educated and earn a good living, so the jobs will have an above-average economic impact.

Jeers: To Kaiser Permanente's Northwest Region for testing some patients for HIV without their knowledge. To its credit the HMO is apologizing to nearly 6,500 members in Oregon and Southwest Washington, most between ages 50 and 65, for testing their blood without their knowledge or consent. Kaiser was complying with a recent government suggestion to test almost all adults for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Previously, the tests were recommended only for people at high risk, such as gay men who engage in unprotected sex, or intravenous drug users.

Kaiser says from now on it will make sure it gets patient consent before testing blood for HIV.

Cheers: To a new law that would give state officials more ways to take action to clean up abandoned or derelict vessels. The saga of the barge Davy Crockett, which cost millions to remove from the Columbia River near Vancouver, was just one example of the hazards posed by these vessels. The new law, signed this week by Gov. Jay Inslee, allow state officials to board vessels to assess whether they pose a threat to the environment. It also would require larger, older boats to be inspected before sale. Finally, it makes permanent a $1 vessel registration fee that can be used to fund cleanups.

Jeers: To Portland voters for rejecting fluoridation of drinking water. The Rose City is the largest in the United States without fluoride in its water, exposing children to the risk of tooth decay later in life. It's a little hard to understand why voters wouldn't want to take an easy step to improve public health -- Portlanders vaccinate their kids, don't they? At least one observer blames it on the city's libertarian streak, because consumers wouldn't be able to choose. Some doubters question fluoride's safety, ignoring the experience of thousands of other communities that have added it to drinking water for decades.

In Clark County, the city of Vancouver adds fluoride to its water supply, as does Camas and Battle Ground. Elsewhere, parents have to rely on having their children chew fluoride tablets to build healthy teeth.

Cheers: To board members of the Vancouver Farmers Market. After enduring some turbulent times and fractious relationships, the board has appointed some new members, worked out a procedure to select additional members, and reviewed a draft of proposed bylaw changes.

The farmers market is a local treasure, but it's made up of individual vendors, some of whom are in direct competition with others. The competition and diverse goals -- an artist may be looking for a different customer than the vegetable seller -- makes consensus difficult. Starting last year, the board was hit by many resignations and a breakdown of process. We hope the newly reconstituted board will follow the advice of its attorney, Steve Horenstein, and put the community and the market's many customers ahead of the needs of individual vendors.