In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Trail Blazers bring Rip City back to life; local schools losers in No Child fight

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Cheers: The Portland Trail Blazers fell far short of an NBA championship, but the season must be deemed a success by any measure. The Blazers came into 2013-14 with middling expectations as a franchise that had not been to the playoffs since 2011 and had not won a playoff series since 2000.

But Portland surprised the experts by compiling a 54-28 won-lost record during the regular season, then defeated the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating 3-point shot to clinch that series victory was instantly hailed as the most memorable shot in franchise history and one of the most memorable in the history of the NBA playoffs. The Blazers’ run came to an end Wednesday as the San Antonio Spurs showed their championship mettle with a 4-1 series victory, but the franchise put together a memorable season that rekindled Blazermania in these parts.

Jeers: The effects of a needless battle between the state Legislature and the federal government are starting to be felt for local school districts. Last month, the federal government yanked away Washington’s waiver on the No Child Left Behind Act, essentially because the state failed to make standardized testing a mandatory piece of teacher evaluations. The loss of the waiver means districts throughout the state lose control over how they spend certain federal funds.

For Vancouver Public Schools, which received $6.3 million in federal Title I money for the 2013-14 school year, $1.3 million now must be set aside to transport students to more successful schools, or pay their tuition for private tutoring programs, or run specific teacher training. For Evergreen Public Schools, $1 million must be set aside for those purposes rather than being used how local administrators see fit.

Cheers: Kudos to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler for hosting a fourth annual job fair at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, and props to the 70 employers who took part. Most important, cheers go to the hundreds of prospective employees who attended the fair in an attempt to improve their station in life.

Whether unemployed or underemployed or simply seeing what kind of opportunities are available, workers were demonstrating the sort of initiative that is attractive to employers. A one-day job fair isn’t going to alter the unemployment numbers in this county, but it starts a dialogue that can help.

Jeers: It is a necessary expense, but that doesn’t mean we need to be happy about it. The cost of cleaning up the Camp Bonneville firing range has more than doubled, with the U.S. Army agreeing to pay an additional $7.1 million for work at the site about six miles north of Camas.

Clark County accepted ownership of Camp Bonneville in 2011 after the U.S. Army agreed to pay for the cleanup of possibly explosive munitions and other hazardous materials that had accumulated through 85 years of military training. “There’s quite a bit of metal there,” county engineer Jerry Barnett said. “There are areas that you wouldn’t expect to find things that we have.” Eventually, Camp Bonneville is expected to be the site of a county park. But that is many years and many millions of dollars in the future.

Cheers: The Washington State Supreme Court took its show on the road this week, with justices hearing arguments in three cases during an appearance at Clark College. Typically, three times a year the court will leave Olympia and visit a different part of the state to help educate the public and build confidence in the judiciary. Having actual justices hearing actual cases in Vancouver reinforces the notion that the law is not limited to ivory towers.