Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Prudent decision, ballot snafu

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To changes at Providence Academy. While it is likely to generate backlash, the decision to remove a smokestack at the academy site is a prudent one. The brick smokestack, built in 1910, is a local landmark, with large white letters vertically spelling out “ACADEMY.” A dilapidated brick boiler building and matching laundry also are slated for demolition as parts of the property are renovated with mixed-use buildings.

The structures are part of Vancouver’s history, but history can grow weathered. “Those structures are probably the worst I’ve seen in my career of historic preservation,” one expert said. “They are completely unsafe. It would take an incredible amount of money to bring them back to use.” The sale of part of the property is designed to provide funding for the preservation and renovation of the landmark Academy building. If that can be accomplished, the loss of a smokestack is relatively insignificant.

Jeers: To the Clark County Elections Office. More than 2,000 voters in Clark County were sent the wrong ballots for the Nov. 2 election. Voters in precincts 625 and 930 received incorrect ballots that include some races outside their area. Election officials have mailed correct ballots with a letter of explanation; if any incorrect ballots have already been filled out and returned, they will be held to give voters a chance to fill out and return the correct ballots.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said steps have been taken to prevent such an error in the future, and officials deserve credit for quickly addressing the issue. But at a time when faith in elections — and vote-by-mail — is being challenged, we would all be better off if the error had not occurred in the first place.

Cheers: To home-baked goods. A decade-old effort to boost small business in Washington is paying dividends. As an article in The Columbian recently detailed, entrepreneurs are making good use of the state’s 2011 Cottage Food Operations Law.

That law made it easier for home-based food producers to sell their items to the public. Health and safety issues are always a concern when it comes to the selling of food. But if proper safeguards are in place, the addition of talented cooks and bakers to the marketplace is most welcome.

Jeers: To robocalls. According to the office of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Corvallis, Ore., company made 54,410 calls to Washington residents over a 2½-year period trying to sell a robocall-blocking device. Most of those were to residents who are on the Do Not Call registry, and one number received 23 calls.

Cheers go to Ferguson’s office for filing a lawsuit against the company. “Here is my message to deceptive robocallers: Immediately stop harassing Washingtonians, or we will hold you accountable,” he said in a statement. Meanwhile, jeers go to Global Grid Telecom for allegedly violating the law and the rules of common decency.

Cheers: To international travel. The United States is planning to ease restrictions on travel from Canada beginning Nov. 8. The initial phase will allow fully vaccinated visitors from our northern neighbor for nonessential travel. Canada opened the border to vaccinated Americans in August.

Restrictions of some sort have been in place since the COVID-19 pandemic took root in March 2020. In recent months, Canadians have been allowed to fly into the United States — but not to drive across the border except for essential travel. With our state sharing a 427-mile border with Canada, the policy change will be significant in Washington.

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