In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Tourism bill smart way to promote state; minimum wage backers on wrong track



Cheers: With towering mountains and a gorgeous coastline and the San Juan Islands and a world-class city and lush landscapes in every corner of the state… well, you get the point: Washington is rife with tourism opportunities. Still, it has been the only state without a publicly funded tourism office since 2011, when the Legislature cut support.

So it is good news that lawmakers are considering a bill to allow for private industry to take up the slack in promoting the state's attractions. "Our concern is that as we look at annual numbers, we are continuing to lose market share," said Louise Stanton-Masten, president of the Washington Tourism Alliance. Which means the state might soon be looking for a catchy slogan to brand its image in the minds of travelers across the country. Maybe something like, "Washington: Nature's Calling!" or "Puget? Sounds nice!" Um, on the other hand, we better leave that part to the professionals.

Jeers: With all the talk at both the state and federal levels about raising the minimum wage, the most important part of the issue is being ignored. Take Seattle. A crowd reported to number 800 minimum-wage workers, many wearing red T-shirts with "$15" on the front, packed a meeting this week in the state's largest city, advocating for the local minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour.

It is understandable that workers would want to make more money. Who wouldn't? Yet their time could be better spent. We can't help but think that those workers would have been better off if — instead of attending a public hearing — they were attending a college class, or learning a trade, or working a second job, or improving their marketability in some fashion. Begging for an increase in the minimum wage isn't going to change your lot in life; improving your job skills will.

Cheers: This week's cool, off-the-wall story actually is a behind-the-wall tale from Sparks Home Furnishings in downtown Vancouver. The business is closing and the building is being sold — a sad moment for Vancouver — and in preparation for that, workers found a century-old cash register stashed behind a wall. The find looked like a prop straight out of a Hollywood period piece. Alas, the bulky, shiny brass antique contained some old papers, but no cash.

Jeers: The Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been in the news again lately for concerns over a lack of progress in cleaning up the facility, and wouldn't you know it … new problems have been found. Reports surfaced Thursday that workers have found more waste leaking between the walls of a double-walled tank at the site in Eastern Washington.

Hanford is the nation's largest repository of nuclear waste, and its proximity to the Columbia River long has generated concerns about the impact that a widespread leak would have. The Tri-City Herald reported that no waste has escaped into the soil beneath the tank, but the incident again points out the abject failure of the federal government to address the public's concerns in relation to Hanford.

Cheers: Combining pride, culture, and history, students with Native American heritage gathered last week for a powwow at Covington Middle School. The annual event brought together students from the Evergreen, Vancouver, Battle Ground and Camas districts, along with the public, for traditional Native American dancing, crafts, and food — as well as a little education.

"I also teach the little ones about respect and more of the traditional ways," said Rony Chee of the Dine' and Navajo tribes, who teaches the Dine' language.