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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: Cheer & Jeers

Retired treasurer Lasher served county well; ailing orcas need urgent attention

The Columbian
Published: January 5, 2019, 6:03am

Cheers: To Doug Lasher. When the county treasurer’s office is well run, this essential function is relegated to the background of county politics. So it’s a strong sign that many residents probably couldn’t name Lasher, who has been in office since 1984. Lasher, accurately described by Columbian reporter Jake Thomas as “bespectacled, soft-spoken and owlish,” has served the county well for more than three decades.

Lasher, 69, has now retired to be replaced by Alishia Topper, who was elected in November. He leaves behind a strong legacy of service in an office that is tasked with collecting and processing county property taxes, in addition to managing funds for local school districts and other taxing districts. In the process, Lasher has maintained a calm and professional demeanor appropriate for county treasurer while guiding his office through numerous technological advancements.

Jeers: To the plight of orcas. According to the Center for Whale Research, two orcas from the Puget Sound southern resident population are ailing and probably will die by summer. Experts report that one orca has peanut head — a misshapen head caused by starvation — and another also is showing signs of malnutrition. The southern resident pods have not had a successful birth in three years and their numbers have shrunk to 74.

A task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee recently produced its first report, identifying a lack of chinook salmon, along with water and noise pollution in Puget Sound, as the primary reasons for the orcas’ declining numbers. We hope that steps can be taken to bolster the population before one of Washington’s iconic symbols becomes extinct.

Cheers: To debt relief. The office of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced that Washington residents will receive $7.6 million in student debt relief from the now-closed for-profit Career Education Corporation. That is part of a $493.6 million nationwide settlement.

The U.S. Department of Education, led by Secretary Betsy DeVos, has gone to great lengths to protect predatory for-profit colleges that leave students in debt while providing few tangible benefits. “Student borrowers victimized by deceptive recruitment practices deserve loan relief and legal protection,” Ferguson said. In working with other state attorneys general to hold companies accountable, Ferguson is providing an important service for Washington residents.

Jeers: To impaired driving. Extra holiday patrols in Clark and Skamania counties resulted in 23 arrests for people driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. The patrols also led to 29 arrests not related to driving under the influence, along with 121 citations and 166 warnings.

This follows a survey by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission that found about 10 percent of respondents admit to drinking or smoking marijuana before driving. Most disturbing is that many respondents claim smoking marijuana after drinking helps them sober up. When Washington voters approved recreational marijuana in 2012, we were promised educational efforts about the dangers of the drug — including driving under the influence. The survey suggests that stronger measures are necessary.

Cheers: To baby Gracie. The 8-pound, 13-ounce bundle of joy was the first baby born in Clark County in 2019, arriving at about 3:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

“I think it’s really cool,” mom Devan Milliman said about delivering the area’s first baby of the new year. “I got bragging rights for that.” She also has a baby who will forever have a unique place in Clark County. For all local residents young and old, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2019.