In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Freeholders perform vital thankless job; commissioners fail to research issue

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Cheers: Many thanks go out to the Clark County Board of Freeholders, who have spent months performing a mostly thankless job. Board members, selected by voters in last November’s election, have delivered a proposal for a new county charter, which will be placed in front of voters in November.

The proposal would increase the number of county commissioners from three to five; would cut commissioner salaries in half; and would create the position of a county manager. Each of the proposals will be dissected and discussed in the months before the election, and the greatest difficulty might prove to be trying to pass the proposals as one package, rather than piece by piece. But for now we can thank the Freeholders for their efforts and for their shared interest in improving Clark County.

Jeers: Clark County commissioners deserve some Bronx cheers for failing to perform due diligence regarding the issue of legalized marijuana. Commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore have banned marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction. While statewide voters have legalized recreational use of the drug, commissioners make some valid arguments in instituting the ban: The federal government still outlaws marijuana, and Clark County voters overall voted against the marijuana initiative.

But, in discussing the point last week, Mielke said he hadn’t read the rules for Initiative 502, which voters approved in 2012. Madore said he had “partially” read the rules. In trying to set policy for the county and in attempting to balance differing state and federal laws, it’s not too much to ask county commissioners to actually do their job and be informed. I-502 was approved more than 18 months ago and state guidelines for managing legalization have been available for months; Mielke and Madore have had plenty of time for a little light reading.

Cheers: Civic engagement is crucial when it comes to creating communities we can be proud of, so the interest generated by a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver is worth noting. Anticipating a large crowd at the next Vancouver City Council meeting, officials have moved the gathering to a larger venue and changed the starting time. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, next door to City Hall.

The proposed oil terminal has touched a nerve among citizens — and that’s a good thing. Whether you are in favor of the proposal or against it, the importance of making your voice heard should never be downplayed.

Jeers: Researchers at the University of Washington have made a disconcerting but not surprising discovery — we’re fat. And this time we aren’t talking only about Americans, who for years have been meekly fighting the Battle of the Bulge. No, nearly one-third of the world’s population is obese, and no country is immune to the growing trend.

“When we realized that not a single country has had a significant decline in obesity, that tells you how hard a challenge this is,” UW researcher Christopher Murray said. Americans are oft-criticized for their gluttony, but we aren’t the only ones who are increasingly overweight. And, in case you hadn’t heard: Obesity can lead to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

Cheers: The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run this week served as yet another reminder of the power of Special Olympics. Bringing together about 30 athletes, along with supporters and police officers, the relay carried a torch from downtown Vancouver to the Clark County Fairgrounds. Special Olympics is a worldwide organization providing athletic opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. And while it its reach is international, its impact can best be witnessed at the local level.