The Morning Press: Benton, oil and coal terminal, unemployment, college football




Kumoricon attendee Trevor Scott, 21, of Longview turns away from a mirror after fixing his costume depicting Drossel Keinz from the anime series "Black Butler." The convention took over the Hilton Vancouver Washington and the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay as well as Esther Short Park.

This weekend’s top stories and news you may have missed:

Benton’s ballyhooed management experience is hazy

Don Benton traded on his experience managing his own company to land a top job in local government.

But it’s difficult to say just how much managing he did there. The company’s main employees appear to be Benton and his wife. Not only that, the company’s biggest disclosed client is Benton’s Senate campaign.

Benton, a five-term state senator, has declined to list his company’s clients on financial disclosure forms, despite state laws that apparently require him to do so. Campaign expenditure reports, however, show Benton’s 2012 campaign for state Senate funneled $100,000 in advertising payments through the company.

Benton’s private-sector experience escaped scrutiny when Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke appointed the fellow Republican politician three months after forcing out the previous department director.

Democratic Commissioner Steve Stuart alleged cronyism. Past boards of commissioners relied on the human resources department and county administrator to narrow the field of applicants to be department heads — vetting résumés, conducting multiple interviews and inviting candidates to meet with the prospective department staff in a process that typically took three months.

Read the full story here.

Clark County in national spotlight in fight over coal and oil terminals

Miller’s confidence is typical of energy producers, transporters and brokers who have put Southwest Washington and the Pacific Northwest in the spotlight with proposals to transform ports into key shipping hubs in a worldwide realignment of valuable oil and coal resources. Under 14 different plans and operations, Washington and Oregon ports would essentially serve as a vast transfer station for the coal and oil being extracted from America’s heartland, where raw materials are sent to domestic and overseas markets demanding fuel and electricity for growth.

But if Miller and the owners of Millennium — Ambre Energy and Arch Coal Inc. — expected a warm welcome in job-thirsty Southwest Washington, they need to take a closer look. Regional and even national environmental activists, who see new oil and coal terminals as harbingers of increased carbon pollution that will hamper efforts to shift to clean sources of energy, have turned an eye to the Northwest and Vancouver.

Read the full story here.

Clark County well short of full employment

Labor Day is the nation’s official celebration of workers. In Clark County in 2013, it marks a time for many families to reflect on modest financial recoveries from recent hard times, and for others to continue adjusting to smaller paychecks and a scarcity of jobs.

Scott Bailey, regional economist for the Employment Security Department, recently examined current job and wage patterns and compared them to the same (inflation-adjusted) numbers from 2007, before the Great Recession. Bailey found some predictable results, as well as some little-known trends.

On the unsurprising side: Even with some recovery, the county has fewer jobs now than it did in 2007. That’s troubling enough. But it’s made worse by the fact that Clark County’s population has grown by 4.4 percent since 2007, and many frustrated job-seekers have left the work force. The result: a large increase in the number of jobs needed for the county to reach its ideal of full employment.

The current unemployment rate is 9.9 percent. Using the generally accepted assumption that 4.5 percent unemployment could be considered full employment due to job churn, Bailey concluded that the county would need 9,600 jobs for full employment. In 2007, when unemployment was 5.6 percent, the county would have needed just 1,900 more jobs to fill that gap, Bailey concluded.

Read the full story here.

New tool an eye-opening advancement in treating glaucoma

A snorkel-shaped device no bigger than a flea is the latest technology offering relief to Clark County residents with glaucoma.

The titanium device is only 1 millimeter long and one-third millimeter tall, but it has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of people with mild to moderate glaucoma.

The device offers an alternative to traditional methods of treating glaucoma, an alternative more advanced than medicated eyedrops but less intensive than surgery, said Dr. Silvio Gurdian, an eye surgeon for 15 years.

Gurdian has implanted the device, called the iStent, in two area residents since beginning to offer the procedure earlier this summer at the Vancouver Eye Care ambulatory eye center. He hopes the procedure will help to prevent the riskier surgeries required for advanced glaucoma.

“Surgical advances in glaucoma have been challenging and slow to be adopted by eye surgeons due to complexity, cost and high risk of complications,” he said. “Therefore, many patients with glaucoma remain undertreated.”

Read the full story here.

Kumoricon brings costume play in the park

The town square belonged to the joyful players at the Kumoricon convention on Sunday.

More than 5,300 attendees seemed pumped by their passion for Japanese animation and other avenues of fantasy and popular culture. That’s at least 600 more than attended last year’s convention in Vancouver, an organizer said.

“I love it,” said Bev Johnson, 77, of Vancouver, who wandered through Esther Short Park with her husband, George, taking in the color of the characters. “I wish my grandson from California was here because he’d get the greatest (costume) ideas.

“They’re very, very creative. I don’t know if I understand all of it,” Bev said.

“You don’t understand any of it,” George, 79, opined.

Read the full story here.

Micah Rice: Huskies set foot on grand stage

SEATTLE — The housewarming party started before noon for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Under a cloudless sky, a festival scene filled the parking lots at Husky Stadium. Toasts were made — the cups filled with optimism that opening day of a sports season brings.

But this was no ordinary opener. On the day the Huskies beat Boise State 38-6, the star was a no-longer-humble Dawg house that puts Washington in the same zip code facility-wise as the top programs in the country.

As they emerged from the grandstand tunnels to gaze upon the stadium’s splendor, Husky fans were like owners stepping into the foyer of a newly bought mansion.

The grandeur brought gasps, the angles were immaculate and oh the waterfront view.

But like any house, when the newness fades, all the trimmings mean nothing if the foundation is faulty.

Read Micah’s full column here and his blog Tailgate Talk here. For more college football coverage throughout the season visit,