Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: I-940 improved; adieu to pool

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To accountability. Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed a bill amending voter-approved Initiative 940, which alters state law for holding police officers accountable for negligent shootings. It is rare that the Legislature overturning the will of voters should be cheered, but this is one occasion. The bill is the result of long, contentious negotiations and was supported by both activists and police groups.

Last year, the Legislature passed an amendment to the initiative before passing the original measure, an action ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. That nullified a compromise and sent I-940 to voters, who approved it with 60 percent of the vote (in Clark County, it passed with 54 percent). The law is necessary; Washington long has had the nation’s most stringent standard in holding officers accountable for questionable shootings. But it needed some improvement. The new law asks whether another officer in the same situation would reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary.

Jeers: To measles. Clark County passed an ignominious milestone as the current measles outbreak reached 50 confirmed cases. Multnomah County in recent weeks has confirmed four cases tied to the outbreak. Health officials stress that if you believe you might be infected, contact your health provider first so they can make arrangements to see you without endangering others in the office.

The outbreak highlights the need for all to receive vaccinations, barring a medical condition that renders them unable to. Nearly all of those infected have not been immunized, creating a situation in which an outbreak grows. For those who have been immunized, vaccinations are not 100 percent effective, placing them at risk when a significant segment of the population is not vaccinated.

Cheers: To the Heights District. The city of Vancouver continues to move forward on proposals for redevelopment in a long-neglected part of the city. A draft proposal has been created for mixed-use development near the intersection of Mill Plain Boulevard and MacArthur Boulevard, the site of Tower Mall.

Officials are leaning toward high-density housing along with retail space, office space and a combined 2 acres’ worth of parks. “One thing that folks tend to understand … the city is growing,” said Rebecca Kennedy, the city’s long-range project manager. “People move here every day, and we need to accommodate that growth.”

Sad: The loss of a pool. Camas Parks and Recreation is throwing a goodbye party today for the city’s outdoor swimming pool, which closed last year. The event is from 2 to 4 p.m. in Scout Hall at Crown Park.

We can’t really jeer the pool’s closing. It had become too expensive and too daunting for the city to maintain, and closure was inevitable. But for generations of Camas residents who used the pool during its 65-year history, the loss will be felt.

Cheers: To fake fish. Mechanical fish developed in Richland have made their way through dams ranging from Washington to Southeast Asia. The fish, 3 1/2 inches long, are equipped with instrumentation that lets scientists know what passing through a dam is like for fish. “We want to understand more about the injuries and mortality that occur from abrupt pressure chambers in dam turbine chambers,” one scientist said.

In the long run, it is hoped the mechanical fish developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can help real fish survive in the wild.

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