Tuesday, April 13, 2021
April 13, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Sports good, cutting in line bad

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To high school athletics. There are no games yet, because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there is news in high school sports. Most notable is that practices began this week for traditional fall sports, including football, although the schedule for games has not been set. In addition, the state’s governing body for high school sports has eased academic grade requirements for athletic eligibility, recognizing that the pandemic has played havoc with learning.

The return of athletics — like the return of in-person learning — would be beneficial for the mental and physical health of teenagers in Clark County. Cheers to all the coaches and athletes who are dealing with an unprecedented situation and simply hoping to compete.

Jeers: To preferential treatment. Cutting in line for the coronavirus vaccine apparently is not limited to Overlake Medical Center & Clinics in the Seattle area. Media reports have revealed other outlets — including the Providence hospital network in Portland — provided vaccines for donors and board members while members of the general public are often left wanting.

The Washington State Department of Health has warned hospitals that the supply of vaccines might be withheld if they are caught providing preferential treatment. Such a move shouldn’t be necessary if medical centers simply do the right thing.

Cheers: To dog parks. The Clark County Council has renewed an agreement with a nonprofit organization for the management of four dog parks. DOGPAW — Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington — will oversee waste disposal, bulletin board maintenance, and trash cleanup.

The pact, which runs through 2026, is a good sign for the organization, which has faced financial and leadership issues in recent years. The parks are popular destinations and provide a valuable amenity for dog owners, but they require upkeep. Dog owners who use the parks should support DOGPAW, helping to ensure that the parks are available for years to come.

Bummer: No fireworks at the fort. Vancouver’s spectacular Fourth of July extravaganza at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has been canceled for the second consecutive year because of the pandemic. This is not worthy of jeers; it’s simply a fact of life during the age of COVID-19.

The Historic Trust, which helps organize the event, needed to decide by the end of January whether the event would take place. With no firm end in site for the pandemic, the decision was obvious. “We are very disappointed, but safety comes first,” said David Pearson, president and CEO of The Historic Trust. “We had some optimism for a while. Then there was another reality check, come January. Following all the health experts and state guidelines, we’re not going to be able to do this.”

Cheers: To legislative responsibility. In 2008, the Legislature passed a tax exemption for low-income working people. Then the Great Recession hit, upending tax collections; the exemption, which would benefit about a half-million Washington residents, has been unfunded ever since.

Now the issue is drawing attention in Olympia. House Bill 1297 has dozens of co-sponsors, including Democratic Reps. Monica Stonier and Sharon Wylie of Vancouver; Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, has co-sponsored a companion bill. The proposal would expand the credit up to $950 for some families. Lawmakers should either pass the legislation or overturn the previous law. Allowing an unfunded mandate to languish should not be an option.

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