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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion

Cheers & Jeers

Voluntary alcohol restriction has an impact on downtown Vancouver

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: November 8, 2009, 12:00am

heers: To downtown merchants and liquor wholesalers who have made a voluntary ban on sales of fortified beer and wine work. It wasn’t many years ago when downtown was an uncomfortable place, full of street alcoholics and the messes they left behind. In 2007, the city and businesses adopted a voluntary alcohol impact area and quit selling drinks whose main purpose is to make the user as intoxicated as possible for the money. It’s been two years now, and spot checks by police have turned up 100 percent compliance.

Apparently Vancouver is unique in having such success with a voluntary ban. Part of the credit goes to alcoholic beverage wholesaler C. Stein Distributing, which has worked to educate its customers about the need for compliance.

Jeers: To county Prosecutor Art Curtis and his deputies for pursuing more legal proceedings in the sad case of Clyde Ray Spencer. Ex-police officer Spencer spent more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of molesting his children. However, the case was riddled with holes and apparent improprieties throughout. Two of his three children say the abuse never happened, and that they were bullied by investigators. Eventually these irregularities came to the attention of Gov. Gary Locke, who commuted Spencer’s sentence in 2004.

After an appeals court ruled that Spencer’s criminal record should be expunged, Curtis and crew filed a motion for reconsideration. If justice is to be done, the case should be laid to rest, and Spencer should have a chance to reassemble the pieces of his life.

Cheers: To Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and students at Heritage High School for combating teen smoking. Most smokers acquire the habit in their teen years, while they are still in school. Almost half of the student smokers said they wanted to quit, but only 4 percent were successful. By taking a new approach to counseling, the Hutchinson study, which included Heritage students, found that about 22 percent of smokers had achieved continuous quitting for six months.

Jeers: To would-be zip-line entrepreneur Derek Hoyte. While the chance to soar from tree to tree suspended by a wire is a thrill, Hoyte’s Skamania County property is the wrong place for it. Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, it’s covered with a U.S. Forest Service easement restricting the land to agricultural use.

That hasn’t stopped Hoyte, who put up lines without permits, then, after threatened with jail, announced he would operate a U-pick operation where people would ride zip lines to gather pine cones. That didn’t go far. Now he’s back with an application proposing a U-pick pumpkin and berry farm with zip lines. That makes no more sense than the original absurd proposal.

Cheers: To preserving the past. The 20,000 items in the Clark County Historical Museum’s archives are a trove of local history, but are fragile and hard to use. Enter Robert Schimelpfenig, an archivist at Washington State University Vancouver. He’s undertaken the big job of digitizing the images, labeling them, and storing them in an online database, which is backed up at the university’s main campus. Thanks to his work, images from our past will be safely preserved and accessible.

Jeers: To Washougal Mayor Stacee Sellers. When she isn’t misplacing or wastefully spending taxpayers’ money, she’s busy embarrassing herself. Witness this statement to the city council last week: “First of all, I want to apologize for the negative publicity that has resulted from this week’s audit report.” You don’t apologize for accurate and factual publicity — you apologize for the misdeeds. Cheers to the voters who swept her from office.