In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Kudos to those who take voting seriously; Gorge plan sounded like bull

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Cheers: To those who voted. Unfortunately, that does not apply to many of us, as voter turnout for Tuesday’s general election was a little more than 30 percent in Clark County. That’s about one-third of registered voters — not of those who are eligible to vote — and that means that a relatively small fraction of citizens are deciding questions that impact all of us.

One of the blessings of our system of government is that people are free to vote — or not vote. But it is endlessly frustrating that so many opt to not be engaged in the process. Statewide, a similar percentage of voters turned in ballots to choose mayors, city councilors, school board members, and other local officials. These are positions that have a daily effect on their communities, and they deserve attention from the electorate. Thanks to those who understand that voting is a precious opportunity that should not be taken for granted.

Jeers: To overly polite drivers. Three-fourths of Northwest drivers refuse to honk their horns at other commuters, according to a survey by PEMCO Insurance. In fact, 55 percent said they believe that honking is bad.

Horns should be used judiciously; we wouldn’t want the Northwest to start sounding like midtown Manhattan. But alerting other drivers to your presence can be beneficial and can enhance safety. Most drivers said that a honk is the best way to remind a fellow motorist to pay attention. So, while we would advise against leaning on your horn, don’t be afraid to give it a gentle tap when necessary.

Cheers: To protecting the Columbia River Gorge. A Clark County land use hearings examiner has blocked development of two properties that sit near Washougal and inside of the scenic area. A pair of semiconductor industry executives had claimed they planned to raise a high-end breed of cattle on the lots and therefore should be allowed to construct new residences.

Considering that the owners have no experience in agricultural operations and that they have tenuous ties to the area, the plan sounded like an end-run around laws limiting development in the Gorge. At least, that’s how examiner Joe Turner saw it, ruling that the proposal for a cattle operation amounted to a bunch of bull. Turner’s decision to uphold protections for the Columbia River Gorge is deserving of kudos.

Jeers: To egregious drone use. A 20-year-old Pasco man has been charged with reckless endangerment after allegedly crashing a drone into the roof of Seattle’s Space Needle last New Year’s Eve. The charge is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The maximum penalty might be a bit harsh for an incident that did not damage the Space Needle and did not cause any injuries, but some punishment is warranted for sheer foolishness. The drone’s owner violated Federal Aviation Administration rules by flying the device above 400 feet, and workers who were atop the Space Needle preparing a fireworks show could have been injured.

Cheers: To reunions. A photo album discovered by Vancouver police has been reunited with a family that apparently did not realize it was missing. The album, featuring photos ranging from the 1940s to the 1970s, was contained in a discarded suitcase found Oct. 28 in some bushes in central Vancouver.

When police were unable to connect the suitcase to any reported incidents, they asked the public for help in locating the owner. The daughter of the owner reportedly contacted officials and was able to recoup her mother’s collection of family photos. In a small way, it reflects the important behind-the-scenes public service performed by police on a daily basis.