In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Tokens give patients' families a lift; school board should freeze Webb's pay



Cheers: To a token effort by Clark County Fire District 6 firefighters. Actually, the gift of preprinted tokens redeemable for taxi rides gives a big lift to recipients. Here's how they work: Firefighters often go to emergency medical calls where a patient will be transported to a hospital by ambulance. Frequently, family members need to go to the hospital too, to handle paperwork and provide important medical information to doctors and nurses. But some folks don't have a car or can't drive themselves to the emergency room.

That's where the tokens are handy. Paid for with donations to the Firefighters' Assistance Fund, not tax dollars, paramedics can give tokens redeemable for a taxi ride to the hospital to the family member. The firefighters' partner in the effort is Vancouver Cab Co.

The program is just starting, but firefighters can also see the tokens being used by a patient to get home from the hospital, or to go to the hospital for evaluation of an urgent, but not major, medical issue, such as a sprained ankle. The tokens aren't good for regular cab rides, or for rides that don't include a point in Fire District 6, which covers Hazel Dell, Felida and Salmon Creek.

Jeers: To Vancouver school board members for considering yet another pay increase for Superintendent Steven Webb, whose total compensation has already increased almost $60,000 — or 28 percent — since 2008.

This is the same school board which has literally showered Webb with perks, including private bathing facilities. Not counting the soap and hot water, his total compensation for 2013-14 was $268,366, according to public records obtained by The Columbian. Earlier this year, Webb said in an interview that he believes his compensation is about $20,000 below where it should be.

However, public records show that while the school board was rewarding Webb with public money, members were privately concerned enough about his job performance to furnish him last August with a "letter of direction" outlining performance improvement goals and spend $12,000 on an executive coach to guide him.

The school board is expected to decide Webb's compensation before the new school year begins. Given the circumstances, it would be best for members to put away the checkbook for now.

Cheers: To using colorful murals to thwart graffiti. The latest example comes from fifth-graders at Peter S. Ogden Elementary School. In June, they painted trees along the graffiti-plagued north side of a nondescript building facing Andresen Road near Fourth Plain Boulevard. The building is a former greenhouse now used for storage by a local landscaping business; it had been tagged several times by vandals.

Teacher Carol Patrick brought up the idea. Her students did some research and found vandals are less likely to damage murals. The Clark County Mural Society and other volunteers helped. The property owner, Davis Landscaping, approved the painting. The effort is a good example of the old slogan "think globally, act locally."

Jeers: To irresponsible, or ignorant, pet owners who leave their animals locked in vehicles in hot weather. Paul Scarpelli, the county's animal control manager, said this week that his department has received dozens and dozens of calls about such incidents since the weather warmed up. The majority of calls are coming from the city of Vancouver, where animal lovers are spotting pets locked in cars in store parking lots.

Dogs are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke because, unlike humans, they can't sweat to cool themselves. Leave pets at home until the weather moderates.