Friday, December 13, 2019
Dec. 13, 2019

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Monitoring tolls; we’re winners

The Columbian
Published: September 7, 2019, 6:03am

Cheers: To fighting against tolls. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, continues to keep Oregon’s tolling plan in the spotlight. This week she publicized her efforts to ensure that Gov. Jay Inslee remains involved in the discussion. Oregon has proposed tolls along Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. That would inordinately impact Washington residents, who generate a majority of the traffic along the north ends of the freeways.

Herrera Beutler says the plan would use Southwest Washington residents “as a revenue source without providing them with any benefit.” That is an overstatement; Washington drivers would benefit if funds are used to mitigate congestion. Herrera Beutler says she has little ability to prevent approval of the tolls; Inslee also has limited power. But coordination between federal, state and local representatives can ensure that the concerns of Southwest Washington residents are heard.

Jeers: To cyberattacks. A 21-year-old Vancouver man has pleaded guilty in federal court to helping “hijack” hundreds of thousands of DVRs, internet routers and surveillance cameras. Kenneth Currin Schuchman faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for researching and identifying vulnerable devices, then working with co-conspirators to electronically invade homes and create networks used to overwhelm larger computer systems.

That sounds complicated, and it is reflective of the risks that come with our modern world of interconnected gadgetry. The question for Schuchman and other cyber criminals: Why don’t they use their technical knowledge for good instead of criminal activity?

Cheers: To, well, to us. Reporters from The Columbian won seven awards and shared an eighth, including three first-place honors in the annual Blethen Awards. The prestigious contest recognized outstanding work published between June 1, 2018, and May 31, 2019, in daily newspapers from Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alberta and British Columbia.

The Columbian won first-place awards for coverage of diversity (reporters Jessica Prokop, Wyatt Stayner and Jake Thomas), enterprise reporting (Prokop and Patty Hastings) and feature writing (Calley Hair). Typically, out of humility, we are reluctant to toot our own horn. But in an age when newspapers and other media outlets are frequently scorned, if we don’t trumpet our success, who will?

Jeers: To vandalism. A Southern Oregon man has been fined for damage in Crater Lake National Park. An estimated $60,000 in damage was caused by off-road driving in Pumice Desert, including “widespread vegetation mortality,” according to the Associated Press. The man was fined $200 after his insurance company paid for the full damage.

Officials said the park has seen an increase in illegal driving and that the restoration process is costly and takes years to complete. Anybody who thinks it is a good idea to drive off-road in a national park is deserving of jeers, but we are glad the perpetrator was caught and held accountable.

Cheers: To recovery. Nearly 1,000 people took part in the 19th annual Hands Across the Bridge event, celebrating freedom from alcohol and substance abuse. The event began with a gathering and speeches at Esther Short Park, then participants walked to the Interstate 5 Bridge to join a group coming from the Portland side.

The celebration is a powerful testament to the battles faced by many people in our community. As one organizer said: “There is strength in numbers. This event brings around feelings of unity.”