Being in the information business, we love breaking news. After all, news is better than olds (sorry, old newspaper joke), and readers have insatiable appetites for big stories.
Because of that, 2013 has been the gift that keeps on giving. As reflected in The Columbian's list of Clark County's newsiest news stories for the year (a list that appeared in Sunday's paper), 2013 was filled with the surprising, the outrageous, the influential, the impactful, and the merely interesting.
For the second year in a row, the saga of the Columbia River Crossing was ranked by news staff as the area's No. 1 story of the year. In 2013, the twist was the apparent demise of the long-discussed proposal. In 2014, the No. 1 story likely will be the revival or the further demise of the project, because the CRC looks as though it might have more lives than a horror-movie villain.
Nos. 2 and 3 on the list related to County Commissioner David Madore, who took office in January 2013 and spent the year putting his stamp on the county. Both the controversial hiring of state Sen. Don Benton as the county's director of environmental services and Madore's overall impact on county policies ranked as significant in the minds of those judging the stories.
Madore likely will remain among the top local newsmakers in 2014, but predicting what direction such newsmaking will take is about as precarious as predicting the weather. There's no telling what manner of sleet, rain, or sunshine will bathe the county under his leadership.
Yet while we could use a dissertation-length editorial to reflect upon 2013, it is time to look forward. A new year has dawned and, as new years are wont to do, it carries with it a great deal of hope and promise. Hope for a less-contentious political scene at all levels -- local, state, and federal; promise for a continually improving economy.
Among the primary issues will be the fact that this is an election year, and election years tend to lend themselves more to pandering than to leadership in the halls of lawmaking. The state legislature is scheduled for a short session, because this is a non-budget year. But lawmakers will be faced with trying to generate a transportation package for the state, and that will bring the CRC back to the fore. Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing for an increase in the state gas tax, but local lawmakers must insist that it include a fair amount of return for Southwest Washington residents.
In addition, the legislature must position the state to adequately deal with funding for K-12 education, as mandated by the state Supreme Court's decision in the McCleary case.
Nationally, we hope for a more productive Congressional session, one that leads to discussions of accomplishments rather than talk about partial government shutdowns and bitter in-fighting. While Congress was busy posturing and grandstanding throughout 2013, issues such as immigration reform, the national debt, gun control, and income inequality were trampled under rhetoric rather than being exposed to the light of meaningful discussion.
And while important issues will face lawmakers at the state and national levels, it is the local sandbox fighting that promises to once again be the more entertaining and aggravating. While Madore's actions likely will once again serve to alienate the county government from seemingly all other governmental agencies in the region, we hold out hope that local leadership can work to find some middle ground on the issues.
And if they do? Well, that would be news.