In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Strong fall coho run reason to celebrate; county dragging feet on pot zoning

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Cheers: Anglers — and those whose livelihoods rely upon anglers — apparently are in for a bonanza next fall. Washington and Oregon officials predict that 964,100 adult coho salmon will be poised to enter the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean, a number that would be three times last year's total. In addition, a large number of fall chinook also are expected to be available for hooking and reeling in.

As Columbian reporter Allen Thomas wrote, "One million coho generally is considered the magic number to provide gang-buster coho fishing." Good fishing is about more than bringing home dinner. It is an important economic engine for this region, and an abundant season would reverberate in communities along the coast and along the Columbia River. "This should provide very good off-shore coho fishing, as well," said Steve Watrous of the Salmon Advisory Subpanel of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. "The last few years in the ocean it's been more like hunting for coho than fishing."

Jeers: Clark County commissioners have extended a moratorium on legalized marijuana in the county, and their reasoning for the move rings hollow. Commissioners said the delay is designed to give the county more time to draft a long-term zoning ordinance regulating the growing, processing and selling of the drug. Because, you know, they've had only 15 months since the law was passed statewide by voters.

The delay extends an effective ban on legalization until June 11; commissioners say that if a zoning change is in place by then, the moratorium will be lifted. Clark County's leaders have expressed opposition to legalization, which was passed by voters in November 2012, and the state's Attorney General recently ruled that local jurisdictions could overrule the will of voters by declining to approve business licenses. If commissioners wish to fight legalization, they have the means. But suggesting that they haven't had time to change zoning is hogwash.

Cheers: Whether or not a replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River is approved in the near future, local residents will need to rely upon the current bridge for years to come. New bridges don't pop up overnight, so it is good news that our ancient I-5 Bridge apparently is sturdy. Oregon state bridge engineer Bruce Johnson has said the twin spans will last indefinitely with regular maintenance.

That doesn't mitigate the need for a new bridge with expanded capacity, but it does provide a little reassuring news for drivers to ponder as they wait in the middle of traffic jams.

Jeers: The House Executive Committee has increased the per diem allowed for state representatives from $90 to $120. State representatives are paid $42,106 a year, plus the per diem and various other reimbursements. That's not enough to make being a legislator a lucrative full-time profession but, on the other hand, lawmakers are expected to be in session for only 60 days this year. In addition, they still may claim the per diem even if being treated to meals by lobbyists.

Some lawmakers say the increase is a reasonable response to the cost of living in Olympia for part of the year. We see it as unnecessary and excessive.

Cheers: If you do a little digging, you never know what you'll find. A plumbing contractor crew in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood recently unearthed a tusk from an ice age mammoth. The tusk presumably had been there, undisturbed, for about 10,000 years, and now it is headed to the University of Washington's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. How exciting was the find? Workers on the crew said it was better than the time they found a jar with money buried in somebody's backyard.