In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Improved snowpack brings sigh of relief; county gun proposal requires caution



Cheers: Assessing a winter’s snowpack in early January is a bit like walking out of a movie halfway through and then writing a review — you don’t have the complete picture. Still, people who assess such things and were worried several weeks ago now have some good news: Storms have replenished mountainsides throughout the region.In the Lower Columbia basin of Southwest Washington, mountain snowpack was at 31 percent of normal as of Jan. 7. Some six weeks later, it had grown to 83 percent of normal, eliciting a sigh of relief from hydrologists. For a region that is dependent upon water, this turnaround has been essential. The snowpack, when it melts during spring and summer, is crucial to ecology, agriculture, and power generation — in other words, the things that drive the local economy. Every bit of snowfall in the mountains eventually pays dividends down below.

Jeers: This isn’t really a jeer so much as a word of caution as county commissioners consider altering policy to allow employees who have concealed weapons permits to bring their guns to work. While individuals have a right to hold concealed-carry permits — if they are approved by the state — there also are good reasons that government buildings don’t allow permit holders to carry guns.

In this case, in addition to arguments over whether concealed carry does or does not improve safety in public places, the county also must consider what a policy change would mean for its insurance rates. Many factors are at play in this issue, and the request from Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke is worth examining. It’s also worth a note of caution.

Cheers: C-Tran and TriMet might soon be taking a small step into the 21st century, as the mass-transit agencies consider allowing riders to pay fares electronically. After being subject to a cash-only system for decades — with drivers unable to give change back — patrons soon could use prepaid transit cards, credit cards, or mobile phones to pay as they board the bus. Chris Tucker, TriMet’s director of revenue operations, told the C-Tran board: “To me, that technology is as old as the telephone switchboards of the 1800s. We’re pretty late to adopt this technology.”

So true. In an era when people can pay nearly all their bills by transferring money via their phones, C-Tran and TriMet are employing an anachronistic system. Cash-only fares should have gone the way of the horse and buggy long ago.

While it’s good for her, Bonnie Moore’s departure from the Columbia River Economic Development Council could be bad for business in the area. Before leaving the CREDC in December, Moore had built a reputation as a game-changer when it comes to promoting the local economy. One example: She secured a $2.2 million federal grant to help metals manufacturers diversify into new markets and upgrade their workers’ skills. Moore plans to stay in the area and still have an impact on local companies, but her work at the CREDC will be missed.

Cheers: The 15-member Washington Chamber Orchestra recently brought a taste of movie lore to a local audience. Led by conductor Michael Kissinger, the group provided live orchestration for the Charlie Chaplin silent film “The Gold Rush.” Movies have been “talkies” for more than 80 years now, meaning that the practice of providing live music to help tell the story taking place on the screen is largely a lost art. “We have to keep up with the film, or we have to catch up to the film, as the case may be,” Kissinger told the audience at Cinetopia. “There’s no break; there’s no rest.” But, for those in attendance, there was a little slice of history and an old-fashioned way of doing things.