Hockinson saves music program;planning a carport takes a team
Cheers: To Hockinson school administrators and board members for retaining music classes for primary school students. The children in kindergarten through second grade have been receiving instruction from a dedicated music teacher. But a pending retirement, coupled with a need to save money due to declining enrollment, led to the suggestion the classes be dropped.Parents didn't like the idea, and quickly formed a group called Save the Music in Hockinson. The parents are also concerned about a cutback in choir programs. Administrators say that they aren't finished with next year's budget, but it looks like they'll keep both the primary program and some vocal music offerings. It's a tougher environment for school district budgeting these days, particularly when a district faces declining enrollment, so it's good to see Hockinson doing what it can to keep the services aimed directly at broad groups of children.
Local environment entrusted to man with virtually no qualifications for the job
Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke could have easily proved that hiring state Sen. Don Benton as the county's director of environmental services was not blatant cronyism: Run him through the standard hiring procedure. Showcase Benton's supposed attributes for all to see. Allow him to rise above other contenders for the job.Instead, Madore and Mielke took the low road. They insulted their constituents by rushing to hire a political pal who lacks even the basic qualifications for one of the most important jobs in the county.
Student housing plan keeps university moving forward rapidly
Leaders and professors at Washington State University Vancouver have consistently kept the institution performing rather precociously, growing and maturing more rapidly than what is typically seen at other universities.
Vancouver Fire Department encouraged by early results of pilot program
Kudos to the leaders and rank-and-file heroes of the Vancouver Fire Department for thinking outside the box and implementing a pilot program that dispatches SUVs — in place of fire engines — to lower-priority emergency medical calls. The program has been in effect only one month, and Vancouver Fire Chief Joe Molina wrote in a recent report that the department still needs to "analyze the larger data set from the three-month trial period" before drawing conclusions.But early statistics are encouraging. As Stephanie Rice reported in a Tuesday Columbian story, the two SUVs are hitting response-time goals 94 percent of the time, an improvement over the previous 78 percent.
Legislators resume battle in two weeks, and they're 'light years apart'
Two weeks of blame-storming began Monday. A more productive launch would've been the Legislature's special session, but Gov. Jay Inslee declared that will start on May 13. Supposedly, this leaves lawmakers a couple of weeks to relax and get ready to return to Olympia and work together to solve their constituents' problems.
Someone called politics "the art of the possible." But, in the era of the modern welfare state, politics is largely the art of the impossible.
Reasonable gun-control measures will be presented again
Although the Washington Legislature will continue with a special session, one fact already is known about this year's efforts: 2013 will be remembered as the year our lawmakers did nothing in response to gun violence.
Both parties face considerable risk by refusing to compromise
Regarding the chances of the Legislature completing its work before the deadline and avoiding a special session, Gov. Jay Inslee said last week: "I think we'd have to draw to an inside straight to get this done by Sunday night."
Camas manages its forest;Yacolt would rather fight than fix
Cheers: To the city of Camas for effectively managing timberlands it owns in two watersheds adjacent to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Boulder Creek and Jones Creek are seasonal contributors to the city's drinking water supply, but the city hasn't actively managed the forest that surrounds the creeks. Letting nature take its course is often a good thing, but in this case there are a number of concerns, not the least of which is fire danger. By sensibly managing the stands, the city can secure its source of water well into the future. Some of that management will include selective logging, which will provide a small source of income to the city -- a consultant estimates the net value of the timber at $8.9 million over 50 years.Jeers: To ruffled feathers and high dudgeon in Yacolt. The state's 2011 audit of the town's books found several financial problems, including billing and receipting, community event documentation, bank account reconciliations and payroll accounting. Though there are no rational excuses, these things sometimes happen in small towns, which can rarely afford full-time accountants. But rather than take the knowledge and improve, Yacolt wants to fight. The town council plans to file a notice of intent to sue the state on the grounds the audit was defamatory and contained more than 80 false statements. The town council would be wiser to spend the money the lawsuit will cost on other priorities.
Statewide races will be decided — not so strangely — on election day
Too often overlooked in our frequent praise of Washington's top two primary is an exception that on closer examination is revealed as a glaring flaw that should be fixed. Thankfully, with strong bipartisan support of legislators, that reform is just the governor's signature away from reality.
Marketplace Fairness Act makes mild progress in Senate
Members of Congress love to affix euphemistic titles to their bills. Any day now we expect the "Survival of the Human Species Act" to be brought before lawmakers. But in contrast to that trend, the Marketplace Fairness Act is as accurate as it is succinct.This business-friendly bill would level the playing field by allowing states to require online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes. Currently, brick-and-mortar businesses must do so, but their Internet competitors enjoy an unfair advantage. On Monday, the Senate voted 74 to 20 to take up the bill and could take a formal vote soon. That's good news not only for Washington state businesses, but for the state government.
Commissioners, state will consider environmental risks of crude-oil facility
Although a proposed crude-oil facility at the Port of Vancouver remains extremely preliminary — don't expect any such plant to open there for at least a couple of years — port officials already have established two commendable policies. First, they properly envision the plan as an excellent way to create local jobs while diversifying the port's cargo mix in ways that will help guard against fluctuations in the economy. Second, they are appropriately concerned about possible environmental risks that could impact the port, the community and the Columbia River Gorge.
Gang of Eight's proposal offers several encouraging areas of reform
There must be some redeeming value in the immigration plan announced last week by the Congressional "Gang of Eight," because both liberals and conservatives are trying to pick it apart. That's one definition of compromise, in this case perhaps even an effective one.
Project could create up to 80 permanent jobs in Vancouver
North Dakota's oil boom is bringing crude oil — and jobs — to the Port of Vancouver.
Ceremony wasn't flashy, but history was made last week
Occasionally in local and state politics, subtle and seemingly insignificant developments can hide momentous events. For example, few people in Clark County (beyond the inveterate political geeks) thought it was unusual last year when Republican candidates for the Legislature Brandon Vick and Adrian Cortes advanced beyond the primary to the general election (where Vick won), or when Republicans David Madore and incumbent Marc Boldt did the same thing in a race for county commissioner (Madore eventually won).Actually, though, history was made in those two races. The November 2012 election marked the first time since the birth of the top two primary in 2008 that two candidates from the same party had advanced to the general election. Nothing wrong with that, we editorialized. The glory of the top two primary is that it promotes the voters' two favorite choices regardless of political affiliation.