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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Strike settled; paltry penalty

The Columbian
Published: September 24, 2022, 6:03am

Cheers: To being in class. After a six-day teachers strike, students returned to school Monday in the Ridgefield School District. Teachers approved a three-year contract that includes salary increases and improvements to teaching caseloads and class sizes for special education, along with other provisions.

As The Columbian reported Wednesday evening, the new contract “featured compromises between the two sides on key sticking points.” Avoiding a strike and keeping students in school would be preferable, but teachers have maximum bargaining power at the scheduled start of the school year. We hope that teachers and administrators have reached an equitable agreement that will best serve students and taxpayers. But for now the most important thing is that those students have returned to class.

Jeers: To Dennis Muilenburg. Boeing will pay a $200 million penalty and former CEO Dennis Muilenburg will pay $1 million related to two crashes of the 737 Max. The Securities and Exchange Commission found that the company and Muilenburg made misleading public statements about the safety of the plane following crashes that killed 346 people.

Muilenburg was fired in December 2019, nine months after the second crash. But what often isn’t mentioned in media reports is that he left the company with a $62 million severance payout. After overseeing a flawed inspection process that led to two crashes and then misleading the public about it, Muilenburg was rewarded with a fortune. A $1 million penalty seems too small.

Cheers: To food trucks. A recent article in The Columbian highlighted Clark County’s burgeoning food truck industry. “We need food trucks,” one proprietor said. “They’re vital to the restaurant industry. Someone starts out with a dream, they start working in the kitchen of a restaurant, then they open their own cart, then they open a restaurant.”

Portland long has been a leader in the food truck industry, and Clark County has gradually followed suit. Food trucks offer entrepreneurial opportunities and add vitality to urban areas — not to mention good food and a variety of ethnic delights. State and local leaders should work to make it easier to open and operate food trucks in our communities.

Jeers: To fentanyl. Health officials continue to be alarmed by the prevalence and danger of fentanyl. As a University of Washington professor said recently: “We were already having a hard time keeping up with heroin, and fentanyl is just so much more deadly, causes so much more chaos, and it’s happening with younger and younger people who have even less experience with the health care treatment system.”

Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer, has warned that fentanyl often is mixed with other substances: “Drugs purchased online, from friends, or from regular dealers could be deadly. There’s no way to know how much fentanyl is in a drug.” The safest strategy is to avoid illicit drugs.

Cheers: To education options. Clark College students have returned to school for fall term, with many of them taking classes online. About 40 percent of classes are offered in person, but nearly all include a remote option. That option is particularly valuable for community college students, who often are attempting to balance school with jobs and families.

“One term to the next, if something comes up, they don’t have to interrupt their education because that virtual option is available,” Clark College President Karin Edwards said. “The important thing for us is to provide the same quality online and in-person.”