Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Oct. 19, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Here’s to informed voters

The Columbian

Cheers: To informed voters. Today’s e-edition of The Columbian includes a 20-page section designed to help voters understand Washington’s election process. The section, produced by The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review and the League of Women Voters of Washington, helps to counter misinformation that has infected our elections.

The section includes stories about registration and how voting works, as well as election security. Washington has used vote-by-mail for two decades, and Secretary of State Kim Wyman is regarded as a national expert on election security. With the Nov. 2 general election drawing near, now is a good time to review your rights and duties as a voter while learning more about the process. Our system of representative democracy is dependent on an informed and engaged electorate.

Jeers: To a misguided proposal. The Battle Ground City Council is considering an ordinance to prohibit the requiring of COVID vaccinations and prohibit the council from passing face mask or social distancing mandates with city limits. There are questions about the legality of the proposal, and the city’s liability insurance provider has said it would drop its coverage if the ordinance passes. The proposal will be reviewed at the council’s Oct. 4 meeting.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to linger, with Clark County recently setting new highs for infections, bucking Gov. Jay Inslee’s mask mandates seems counterproductive. While it is tempting to say elected officials can act as they like, the fact is that what happens in Battle Ground does not stay in Battle Ground. Such an ordinance would endanger others in Clark County and beyond.

Cheers: To an improving economy. Clark County added about 1,300 jobs in August, bringing employment close to pre-pandemic levels. The 1,300 number is seasonally adjusted, and the unemployment rate of 4.8 percent will be revised, but the trend is encouraging.

“More industries are doing well in terms of being fully recovered,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington. “More are getting really close. . . . It’s really accommodations and food services that are the biggest laggard.” The lingering pandemic continues to hamper the local economy, but the numbers are moving in the right direction.

Jeers: To climate change. The latest impact from a warming climate can be seen in the Bering Sea. Biologists this summer found that the population of juvenile female snow crabs has declined 99 percent in three years. Meanwhile, the lucrative October king crab harvest has been canceled.

“This is huge,” one official said. “It is a massive shift for our ecosystem in the Bering Sea, and the implications for other fisheries are just starting to be thought through.” With many Bering Sea crab boats based in Washington, the situation has far-reaching implications.

Cheers: To Josephine Abbott. The 14-year-old is the first girl in Southwest Washington to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout from Boy Scouts of America. Girls were not allowed to participate in the century-old organization until 2019, and Abbott quickly joined in what is a family tradition.

Officials say about 4 percent of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest in the organization. Qualifications include earning 21 merit badges — 13 of them skill-based — and completing a community service project. For her project, Abbott built a buddy bench for her school. Her achievement should inspire other teens — both boys and girls — to follow in her footsteps.