Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sept. 21, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Land bank call right; boo gloom

The Columbian

Cheers: To the Clark County Council. Council members did so with reluctance, but they were wise to withdraw plans for a rural industrial land bank in Brush Prairie. In 2016, officials had included the land bank in the county’s 20-year comprehensive growth plan. That drew legal challenges from environmental groups, and a state appeals court in August ruled that the land bank violated state law.

The decision to eschew additional appeals will again make the county eligible for state funding for items such as transportation infrastructure. “It’s really with sadness that we’re removing this,” council Chair Eileen Quiring said, “because I think Clark County was right.” Maybe, maybe not. But courts have the final say about what is legal or illegal; further challenging the ruling would have been a waste of time and money for the county.

Jeers: To gloom. Webster’s tells us that gloomy means “dark or poorly lit, especially so as to appear depressing or frightening.” While we don’t think that applies to Clark County, apparently it does by some measures. According to BestPlaces.net, the metro region is No. 2 on the list of Gloomiest Places in America during November, December and January.

Measuring percentage of cloud cover, average hours of daylight and days with precipitation, the Portland area ranked about as gloomy as a Stephen King novel. The No. 1 area on the list? Seattle, of course. While there is no disputing that Vancouver typically has more than its share of cloud cover during this time of year, we still think of the area as perpetually bright, lively and vibrant. That must be because of the good-natured people.

Cheers: To the cosmos. Local astronomers set up telescopes outside two grocery stores Monday, giving passersby an opportunity to see the transit of Mercury. That is the rare occasion when the smallest planet passes between Earth and the sun.

About 20 people took turns viewing the phenomenon, thanks to the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers Club. Mercury is roughly 3,000 miles in diameter; the sun is 864,000 miles across, rendering the planet as little more than a tiny dot against the glow of the sun. If you missed it, you need to wait until 2032 for the next transit of Mercury.

Jeers: To voter turnout. With nearly all the ballots counted from the Nov. 5 election, it appears that turnout was more robust than for recent off-year elections. But it still falls short of the level needed for a healthy democracy.

Clark County officials report that 36 percent of registered voters turned in a ballot for this month’s election; statewide, the number was 44.6 percent. In both instances, those represent increases compared with the 2015 and 2017 elections. But, again, that is only among registered voters. Far too many otherwise eligible voters do not even bother to register; far too many of those who do register don’t even bother to vote. Our democracy is weaker because of it.

Cheers, we guess: To the Seattle Sounders. Although this is Portland Timbers country, we’re happy for the Sounders, kind of. Seattle captured the championship of Major League Soccer, winning the MLS Cup for the second time in four years. The match drew 69,724 fans in Seattle, giving a boost to the city’s hopes for being selected as a site of 2026 World Cup matches.

The Sounders deserved the championship, we reluctantly admit. And having a champion in the Northwest is beneficial for the region, we suppose. But as Timbers supporters might say, RCTID (Rose City Till I Die).