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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Feb. 24, 2024

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Cheers & Jeers: Education option; opaqueness

The Columbian

Cheers: To Clark College. College officials are thinking ahead in seeking approval for a bachelor’s degree program in computer science. Clark currently offers an associate degree in computer science, requiring students to go elsewhere if they desire a four-year degree. Officials say the program would differ from those at other Washington schools: “There is less focus on theory. There is more focus on making sure the students are ready so that the first day when they go on a job they are prepared and execute.”

Washington’s community and technical colleges provide an important service in the state, filling a niche not accommodated by senior colleges. And computer programs are crucial in providing workers for the state’s high-tech industries. A bachelor’s program in computer science would effectively anticipate the needs of the local students and businesses.

Jeers: To opaqueness. Some Washington legislators continue to seek ways to keep the public in the dark. Despite being chastised for trying an end run around the state’s Public Records Act (including editorially by The Columbian), lawmakers are now considering bills that would make it more difficult for the public to access information.

Some lawmakers have tried claiming “legislative privilege” as an excuse to keep emails, text messages and certain documents to themselves, a strategy that is being challenged in court. Now they are considering laws against public records requests made for an “improper purpose.” The nebulous phrase and the possibility for abuse of it should be rejected. Lawmakers must remember that public records, by definition, belong to the public.

Cheers: To the Vancouver City Council. Councilors have extended a moratorium on the construction of large warehouses, allowing more time for staff to study the impact of such structures. Examining the effects on residents, transportation and carbon emissions will help inform future decisions about facilities that can upend neighborhoods.

City officials enacted a moratorium in December, and this week they increased the threshold for that prohibition from 100,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet. That seems reasonable for now, but an eventual decision should fit in with the city’s goals of reducing emissions and enhancing the quality of life for residents.

Jeers: To taking the first shot. Officials of Oregon’s Liquor and Cannabis Commission have used insider knowledge to procure sought-after bottles of booze, according to an internal investigation. That includes Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, which can cost thousands of dollars per bottle.

The officials paid for the whiskey, but they prevented the alcohol from being made available to the public. That might violate Oregon law against public officials using their positions for personal gain, and Gov. Tina Kotek called the actions unacceptable. We’ll drink to that.

Cheers: To generosity. Vancouver philanthropists Gary and Christine Rood have made a significant donation to Friends of the Children, gifting properties expected to sell for $33 million. Of that, $5 million will go toward a new clubhouse for the local chapter of the organization.

Friends of the Children is a Portland-based organization that aims to stop generational poverty, and the Roods’ donation will provide benefits close to home. As one local executive said: “The gift means that we can move forward with putting some permanent roots down in this community. It’s a game-changer for us.”