Saturday, October 16, 2021
Oct. 16, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Battle Ground council vote

The Columbian

Cheers: To some of the Battle Ground City Council. By a 4-2 vote, the council rejected a proposal that would have barred the city from issuing COVID-related mask or proof-of-vaccine mandates. Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandates have been upheld by the courts, and ignoring them would have opened Battle Ground up to costly legal action.

As it is, the city wasted money hiring outside legal counsel and using staff time to look into the ordinance proposed by council member Brian Munson. Fellow councilor Shane Bowman said: “This has nothing to do with the citizens of Battle Ground. The people who elected us are paying for this, for us to play political games from the dais? That’s unacceptable.” Such meaningless grandstanding is costly to the city’s finances and reputation. Cheers go to the council members who saw through the charade.

Jeers: To influenza. While the COVID pandemic continues to linger, health officials are warning of the coming flu season. “People who have flu symptoms and are in a high-risk group, or who are worried about their illness, should contact their health care provider,” an announcement from Clark County Public Health said.

Although coronavirus has overshadowed the annual influenza season, the flu remains a threat — particularly for those with underlying health conditions. An average of 36,000 deaths in the U.S. are attributed to the flu each year. Officials recommend vaccinations to help keep our already stressed health care system from being overwhelmed.

Cheers: To new schools. Vancouver Public Schools is planning five dedication ceremonies for schools that have been built in the past two years. Events are planned for McLoughlin Middle School, and Marshall, Truman, King and Walnut Grove schools.

The more important point is that taxpayers in the district passed a $458 million bond in 2017 with 69 percent of the vote. That bond supported the construction of three new schools, the replacement or remodeling of several others, and updates to every school in the district. That investment will enhance the educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students over the next several decades.

Jeers: To deferred maintenance. Camas officials have hired a Seattle firm to assess the repair needs for 10 city-owned buildings. “The city’s existing buildings are aging and, unfortunately, the city has consistently deferred maintenance and capital improvements through the years,” Public Works Operations Supervisor Denis Ryan told city council members. “That has led to nonfunctioning systems and costly repairs that are anticipated to continue unless the city takes steps to get ahead of things.”

Whether in Camas or state governments or our national parks, for decades the overriding philosophy has been to short government of funding for necessary maintenance. The result is a larger price tag when infrastructure shortcomings can no longer be ignored.

Cheers: To accountability. A Tacoma man has been sentenced to two years in prison for setting a fire outside a Seattle police precinct during last year’s protests. In Portland, sentences of five years and four years have been handed out recently for arsons related to the unrest, and hundreds of people have been charged with various crimes.

While the right to protest is inviolate, when protests turn violent or dangerous, perpetrators must be held accountable. Some critics claim that protesters engaged in violence without consequence, but that assertion is false. Prosecutors are working diligently to hold people accountable for when protests become uncivilized.