Thursday, August 6, 2020
Aug. 6, 2020

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Habitat helps, office obstacles

The Columbian

Cheers: To helping elderly and low-income people stay in their homes. Columbian reporter Patty Hastings recently told the story of LaRae Brigham, an 82-year-old retired custodian who needs oxygen, and her daughter, who was left with one side of her body paralyzed due to a stroke. They’ve been living in a mobile home Brigham has owned for more than 40 years, but it needed remodeling to accommodate their disabilities.

Thanks to a program from Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, each of the women will soon have their own accessible bathroom. And that’s just one of the success stories from the program, which is funded in part by a three-year, $150,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Not all projects have to be as big as Brigham’s. Evergreen Habitat for Humanity also offers a program called A Brush with Kindness, which tackles minor repairs and home weatherization.

Jeers: To barriers that prevent women from running for public office. One such barrier is child care. A recent Associated Press story detailed the plight of women who would run for office, but for whom child care is a hurdle. One answer is to allow candidates to spend campaign funds on child care, but that is legal in only six states, not including Washington.

Since 2018, it has been permissible for candidates for federal office to spend campaign money on child care expenses. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, is a mother of three young children and has used that provision. She told The Columbian that when she first ran for office, there was a lot of talk about recuiting younger, female candidates, but no one was seeking to help them with child care expenses. She now sees movement on that issue, so perhaps in a few years the burden of child care won’t dissuade as many qualified candidates.

Cheers: To Fort Vancouver High School sophomore Kahlil Singleton. On Dec. 29, the 15-year-old scored 55 points in a basketball game, breaking the all-time Clark County high school record of 46 first achieved in 1911 and again in 1955. The 6-foot, 2-inch guard shot 18 of 34 from the field, including a school record nine of 13 three-point shots. Not surprisingly, Singleton has already drawn the attention of college recruiters, although he still has more than two years of high school basketball left. “There won’t be a scoring record he won’t break,” says his coach, James Ensley.

Jeers: To the closure of Portland’s sobering facility. Since 1985 the nonprofit Central City Concern had operated the center and vans, finding people in the downtown area in need of services and transporting them to a facility which offered a safe space to recover from alcohol or drug intoxication. The reasons for the closure are complicated, according to a report by The Oregonian. But they include the fact that more intoxicated people are in the midst of a mental health crisis, are agitated due to methamphetamines or opioids, or all of the above, and are too difficult or dangerous to treat in the sobering center. Instead, police will transport people to hospitals, which hardly seems like an appropriate plan. Portland needs to work out a better system that doesn’t involve overworked police officers, expensive ambulance rides or hospital emergency departments filled with the general (and vulnerable) public.

Cheers: To Adrian Cortes, Battle Ground’s new mayor, who was appointed by his fellow city councilors this week. He said he hopes to offer a voice of stability, and be a role model to encourage other Latinos and people of color to seek local public office. Those are some great goals, Mr. Mayor.