In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Civil rights pioneer energizes MLK event; panel's dueling reports disappoint



Cheers: Those who attended last week's sold-out Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at Clark College received a most welcome surprise. Rep. John Lewis, a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement who now is in his 14th term as a Congressman from Georgia, made an unannounced appearance at the event, bringing forth recollections of the nation's turbulent past and his close relationship with King.

Lewis was on the front lines for many of the seminal civil rights battles of the 1960s, serving as an organizer and a spokesman at the precipice of history. Last week, he was in the Northwest as part of a book tour, and he landed at the Vancouver event thanks to the involvement of service fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, of which he is a member. While events honoring his friend are nice, Lewis said, he stressed that King would have wanted people to keep "pushing and pulling to make our country and our world a better place."

Jeers: A bipartisan panel of state lawmakers has split along party lines and released dueling reports on how to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Having already missed a December deadline to come up with recommendations, the panel this week posted separate reports online.

We're all in favor of robust debate, and we fully recognize that no consensus can be reached at this point regarding climate change. But posting separate reports will simply embolden the fanatics on both sides of the discussion and move us no closer to a solution.

Cheers: For many people, college represents a dream that seems financially out of reach. That is the reason for College Goal Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Clark College. Workshops about financial aid and assistance in completing financial-aid forms will be available, along with volunteers to help attendees navigate the daunting first steps toward getting an education.

Education often is a self-perpetuating cycle. Those with parents who attended college are more likely to attend themselves, while first-generation students can find the very notion intimidating. Breaking that cycle is one of the keys to creating upward mobility for younger generations. Find more information on what to bring to College Goal Sunday.

Jeers: Big Bertha thus far hasn't been living up to the hype. The tunneling machine, billed as the world's largest, is being used in Seattle to clear the way for an underground freeway. But it has been stuck since early December, providing a lengthy delay in the $3.1 billion project.

Wednesday, officials announced that a 3-foot-wide boulder is to blame for the stoppage, and metal and plastic piping also have been found in the machine as it sits 60 feet underground. Maybe soon Bertha can resume making good use of your gas-tax dollars.

Cheers: If you lock 100 economic experts in a room for 100 years, they will agree on something — eventually. So it is no surprise that speakers at The Columbian's 2014 Economic Forecast Breakfast had widely differing views of the year ahead. "Things are getting better; still a lot of people are hurting out here," regional economist Scott Bailey said, warning that political strife and stark income inequality will hurt the middle class. "Vancouver and Clark County will flourish over the next decade," countered Jon Roberts, principal at TIP Strategies.

The differences in opinion reflect the fact that economics is an inexact science, and even the experts know there are no certainties. But the annual forecast breakfast was a success, with more than 400 attending to discuss — and hopefully start building — a successful 2014 for Clark County.