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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.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

City tries to be a good neighbor; port should mind its own business

The Columbian
Published: June 23, 2018, 6:03am

Cheers: To being a good neighbor. The city of Vancouver is in the process of drawing up a “good neighbor commitment” with five neighborhood associations surrounding the new day shelter for homeless people on Grand Avenue. Neighbors have opposed the project since the day it was announced. They’re worried about crime, littering, camping and declining property values. The draft agreement makes pledges to provide on-security, trash receptacles and other amenities that should ease some of the impacts.

Jeers: To Port of Vancouver Commissioners Don Orange and Eric LaBrant for inserting the public port district into the national debate over how immigrant families should be treated. To be sure, the Trump administration’s practice, now changed, of separating children from their parents and holding them is despicable. Orange and LaBrant are well within their rights as private citizens to object. But using the time, resources and authority of a public agency to essentially take a political stand goes too far. It could be argued that it might be appropriate for port commissioners to comment on politics and policy. But those comments should be directed at directly issues related to port business, like tariffs and trade.

Cheers: To the Black Pearl events center. The glass-and-concrete cube on the Columbia River waterfront in Washougal has sat unfinished and unoccupied since entrepreneur Bill Sherertz died in 2011, when it was under construction. Sherertz had a dream of a high-end restaurant replacing the venerable Parker House that had been at the site for years. Although his family wasn’t eager to jump into the restaurant business now, seven years later, they are transforming the Pearl into what promises to become a gem of an events center for east Clark County. Perhaps it can be the anchor to a new phase of waterfront redevelopment.

Jeers: To apparent poor management at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Facility. A recent performance audit conducted by a team from Auditor Greg Kimsey’s office found that operating costs and overtime payroll have increased, even as the population of incarcerated youngsters has decreased. The auditors found that managers didn’t consistently collect and use data to determine proper staffing levels. Result: Staff overtime increased from 3,000 hours in 2007 to 10,000 hours in 2015, even as the average number of youths in detention decreased from 58 to 21. After the audit was released, Juvenile Court Administrator Chris Simonsmeier said that management has taken steps to improve the use of overtime and that the facility is operating under its maximum budget for the second year in a row.

Cheers: To assisting Opportunity Youth. That’s the name being given to 7,000 Clark County residents between ages 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed. Existing youth employment programs can reach only about 10 percent of these young people, who may have barriers to work like needing to care for a family member or poor English language skills. A new one-stop center to connect many more of these kids with training and jobs is in the works. Called Next, it will be funded by grants and federal funds and be operated by Workforce Southwest Washington. The center will open Aug. 27 at Northeast 136th Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard.

Jeers: To the Value Pricing Advisory Committee. This euphemism for Oregon’s freeway tolling panel effectively gave the Vancouver City Council two hours to review a 91-page document and provide thoughtful feedback. Really? If they think that’s a good way to do business, committee members must be planning to run for Congress.