Monday, February 6, 2023
Feb. 6, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Good ethics; bad names

The Columbian

Cheers: To providing an ethical framework to county government. Last November, voters approved a number of amendments to the charter that spells out how government in Clark County should be run. One amendment required the county council to address ethics, an area that was murky in the original county charter. This week, the council unanimously approved an ordinance creating a code of ethical conduct, an ethics review commission and an ethics oversight office.

Rather than try to write its own code of ethics, the council wisely chose to adhere to existing state law and the county human resources policy. That drew some criticism from a few members of the public including Rob Anderson, a Washougal resident who tried to file an ethics complaint after the county council rejected his attempt to ban mask and vaccine mandates. Keeping it simple will make it easier to apply.

Jeers: To derogatory place names, including Squaw Island, a little-visited spot in the Columbia River near Woodland. When native names were conferred by white people in the 19th and 20th centuries, they were done with little to no cultural awareness or insight. Many, such as this name, are generic. Now there’s an effort to change these place names to names that reflected Indigenous peoples’ language, history, culture and mapmaking.

Cheers: To more rights for domestic violence victims. Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed a bill sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, that gives domestic violence victims the right to make a statement at the sentencing of convicted abusers. Previously, they had that right only if the perpetrator was convicted of a felony.

“It’s not just important for victims and their families, as part of the healing process, but it’s important for all of us to hear what victims have to say,” said Wilson, who has long been a champion for the rights of abused women.

Jeers: To decades of violence against young women. Two items in Wednesday’s newspaper point to the situation. First, sheriff’s investigators are still trying to find acquaintances of Sandra Renee Morden, who disappeared in the late 1970s. In 1980, a body was recovered along Fly Creek near Amboy, but it wasn’t until 2019 that science was advanced enough to positively identify the remains as those of Morden, who was about 16 when she was killed. Two pages later, Columbian readers learned of Monday’s shooting death of Amara Marluke, 19, a student at Portland State University. A male PSU student has been arrested in that case. The stories are sad examples of continuing violence against vulnerable young women.

Cheers: To a class act. Students at Union High School in Evergreen district offer monthly after-school tutoring to kids who live at Open House Ministries’ shelter in west Vancouver. The student-led lessons are held after school or on school breaks. Although they are focused on challenging subjects like math and science, they’re a lot of fun. “It’s a great opportunity for kids and volunteers, a real plus for both of us,” said Vikkilynne Rolfs, a director at the shelter.

Jeers: To substandard care for the sick and elderly. A new report released this week documents widespread problems in the nursing home industry. The issues range from training and staffing to the way facilities are designed. The problem seems to be complex and unsolvable in the current political climate. Nursing home operators say that they are willing to improve, but can’t afford unfunded government mandates. But think of it like this: Would you feel good about you or someone you love living in a nursing home?