Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sept. 20, 2020

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Honoring King through service; lamenting state of our roads

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To answering the call to service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dozens of local volunteers turned out to honor the legacy of the civil rights pioneer by performing community service tasks. Some removed litter from beaches; others cut invasive blackberries, planted trees and restored wetlands. Some volunteered at the Clark County Food Bank. All honored the legacy of a man who, in 1957, uttered these words that ring true today: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”

Jeers: To attempting to navigate the Evergreen State. A new survey ranks Washington as the third-worst state for driving. Between traffic jams, gas prices, insurance and potholes, we believe it. The study, released by the personal finance website WalletHub, jibes with other recent surveys that have shown Washington to be less than ideal for drivers. Although the reasons are complex, it probably has something to do with the fact that Washington is the smallest state in the West, yet it is second most-populous. And blue Washington seems to hate transportation taxes and projects as much as any red state: witness the recent passage of Initiative 976, which cuts $4 billion in local government revenue over its first six years, much of which was to be used for transportation.

Cheers: To a more representative Ridgefield City Council. The new council, seated this month after November’s election, includes three women, the most in city history. It’s also substantially younger than its predecessors, with two members in their 40s. It wasn’t all that long ago when the youngest councilor was age 62. There is nothing wrong with seniors, who often have more available time, serving in government. But it’s good when representative government is also demographically representative.

Jeers: To decentralized management of county contracts. An internal audit released this week by County Auditor Greg Kimsey found numerous flaws in the county’s somewhat random processes. The audit found that different departments use different tools and systems to track contracts, leading to inconsistent data and reporting. The system predates current County Manager Shawn Henessee, but he will need to act to make sure that contract management follows accepted procedures, that county employees are trained, and that contract performance data is readily available to anyone who asks for it.

Cheers: To Veronica Vichit-Vadakan. The Washington State University Vancouver reference librarian appeared on five episodes of the TV game show “Jeopardy!” earlier this month, winning $89,001 in four games as champion and another $1,000 in her final game. She said she planned to use some of the winnings to build an elaborate “catio,” a secure outdoor location for the felines she fosters to get some fresh air. We’d settle for meeting Alex Trebek.

Jeers: To the thought of more political divisiveness in America. But Cornell Clayton, director of WSU’s Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy, had the research to back his unwelcome prediction at The Columbian’s recent economic forecast event. Clayton sees wealth inequality, employment instability and other factors continuing to drive a wedge into politics so that even the majority of people who see bipartisan solutions can’t get the support to work on them. He predicts a nasty summer of partisan campaigns featuring attack ads, half-truths and endless bickering. Ugh.

Cheers: To transitory beauty. A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks spent more than 30 hours at the Clark College Library building a vibrant mandala of colored sands, then, as is their custom, whisked it away in a moment.

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