Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Sept. 22, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: B&O tax, storing nuclear waste

The Columbian

Cheers: To the Vancouver City Council. Councilors were wise to heed warnings from local business leaders and remove a recommended Business and Occupancy tax from the proposal known as A Stronger Vancouver. Reinstating a B&O tax was among the suggestions for adding about $30 million a year to the city budget to fund a variety of services and capital projects.

Critics had pointed out that a B&O tax would be a particular burden on small businesses and that it would place Vancouver at a competitive disadvantage compared with other cities in Clark County and in Oregon. Additional changes are likely for the extensive Stronger Vancouver proposal — and that is how it should be. The plan should be viewed as a good starting point, with the council now differentiating between wants and needs for the future of the city.

Jeers: To the U.S. Department of Energy. The Western Governors’ Association is right to decry federal plans regarding the storage of radioactive nuclear waste. Among the complaints: Governors were not consulted before a plan to ship contaminated items to Carlsbad, N.M., was unveiled.

For decades, the federal government has shirked its duty for cleaning up contaminated sites such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Federal officials need to better engage with the states that have unwittingly become experts in dealing with contaminated waste.

Cheers: To empirical evidence. Researchers at Washington State University have taken a close look at the effect of marijuana legalization on crime rates. Along with researchers in New Jersey and Utah, they studied information on violent crime and property crimes both before and after recreational marijuana use was approved in Washington and Colorado — the first states to legalize the drug.

The finding is that legalization has not affected crime rates when compared with states that have not legalized marijuana. The study is not the final word on the impact of legalization; more research is necessary, particularly into the risks of people driving under the influence. But it does begin to answer some important questions. “I think it will be pretty clear evidence that, at a minimum, the sky isn’t falling,” said WSU’s Dale Willits, a co-author of the study.

Jeers: To too many chances. A homeless man in Portland this week was convicted of his 68th crime, a rap sheet that includes mostly misdemeanor theft, trespassing and harassment. reports that he was sentenced to three years of probation through a program that also is designed to help him find stable housing. According to The Associated Press, the man could be sent to prison if he violates the probation. We are all for second chances, but a 69th chance seems a bit excessive.

Cheers … and Jeers: To Vancouver. There is no shortage of studies that rank cities on things ranging from the best areas for hipsters to the best coffee towns. In one new study from, Vancouver placed second among 250 cities as the best place for freelancers. Ranking items such as internet speed, number of coffee shops and ease of getting around, Vancouver came out as an excellent place for the kind of people who conduct business over a latte and scone. That is good news, we suppose.

But on the other hand, a study from rates Vancouver as a poor place for seniors to live. The city placed 258th out of 302 cities across the U.S., scoring particularly low in health care. The lessons from all this: Every city has strengths and weaknesses; and there probably will be another study out next week.