Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Generosity always in season

The Columbian

Cheers: To a giving community. The annual Give More 24! fundraiser attracted a record $3.3 million this week for nonprofits in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties. The 24-hour online marathon, organized by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, drew donations from about 6,600 people and surpassed last year’s total of $2.9 million.

The eighth annual event funds hundreds of local agencies that provide services and assistance for needy people throughout the year. “We were impressed by the level of generosity that comes out of this community,” foundation spokesperson Maury Harris said. “That goes first and foremost for the donors, but also the folks contributing their time and talent.” Once again, Give More 24! highlighted the kindness of our region, but it also warrants a reminder: Generosity need not be limited to one day of the year. Donations to worthy nonprofits are always welcome.

Jeers: To an eyebrow-raising pay increase. Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes might well deserve the “excellent” rating of his recent performance review, but a 10 percent raise from the city council warrants discussion. Holmes’ base salary now is $293,091 – an 81 percent increase since he took the job in 2010.

Notably, the latest increase did not generate any public discussion from city council members, who set the city manager’s salary. A one-year increase of 10 percent – following 19 months of pandemic-induced economic uncertainty – certainly should be a topic of discussion. Holmes has been an excellent manager of city functions, but council members should go on the record explaining why he warrants such a raise.

Cheers: To bus rapid transit. C-Tran has broken ground on a second bus rapid transit line, running along Mill Plain Boulevard. The agency also recently announced a $24.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help facilitate development of the line. The Mill Plain route is expected to be operational in 2023, joining the Fourth Plain BRT line that opened in 2017.

Bus rapid transit provides frequent service using 60-foot articulated buses and special platforms designed for front- and rear-door boarding, with fares paid in advance. The idea is to make transit more efficient, and the development of Clark County’s system provides additional options that could be included on a new Interstate 5 Bridge.

Jeers: To COVID-19. Rates of COVID infections have declined slightly in recent weeks, but the virus still is taking a toll. In one example, several Washington health care unions warned this week that hospitals are “on the brink of a crisis” and needed “immediate and impactful action to retain and attract critical workers.”

After 19 months of the pandemic, it is understandable that workers are suffering from burnout. A surge of infections arrived during the summer, just when it appeared that we were putting the disease behind us. Vaccinations, the wearing of masks and diligent behavior remain essential to making progress against COVID.

Cheers: To reusable (or paper) grocery bags. Washington’s ban on plastic bags at grocery stores and restaurants has gone into effect; ideally, it will reduce the single-use plastics that wind up in landfills or the environment.

Some single-use plastics still are permissible, including for wrapping meat or for delivering newspapers. But the prohibition can play a small role in improving sustainability in our state; according to, American consumers annually use about 100 billion plastic bags.