Cheers: To community forums. City of Vancouver officials recently held their third community forum of the year, an informal gathering that allowed residents to meet with city leaders and express their concerns about issues in the region. “Whenever I come, I learn something and it’s worthwhile,” one resident said.
Too often, government is portrayed as being in conflict with the public. But elected officials are chosen by the people and, as residents of the community, often have the same concerns as their neighbors. That does not mean that the governing council or staff will always agree with complaints or have the power to resolve them, but discussing those issues is an important part of responsive government. Community forums help to break down the barriers that some people believe exist between them and our government.
Jeers: To the end of an era. Damian Lillard, the leading scorer in franchise history, has been traded by the Portland Trail Blazers. For 11 seasons, Lillard often has been the only bright spot for a franchise that lingers in mediocrity.
In July, apparently frustrated by the Blazers’ inability to field a championship contender, Lillard requested a trade. This week, the Blazers complied, sending him to the Milwaukee Bucks. In addition to being a seven-time NBA All-Star, Lillard has been an exemplary member of the community. His departure marks a dark day for Blazers fans.
Cheers: To dashboard cameras. The Vancouver Police Department is adding dashcams to its patrol cars. This follows the addition of body-worn cameras in March, adding to accountability for both the officers and the public.
Video recordings cannot answer all questions about police actions when a complaint arises, but they often help provide clarity. Cameras are important to improving scrutiny of police activities, and they also can help protect officers from specious accusations. By adding body-worn cameras and now dashboard cameras, the department has responded to community concerns and helped to build trust with the people it serves.
Jeers: To poor planning. Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program is looking to hire 49 additional employees because of overwhelming demand. That is worthy of cheers, but the Legislature’s inability to effectively prepare for the implementation of state programs is troubling.
The WA Cares fund, a payroll tax aimed at long-term health care, was delayed when it became clear state officials were not prepared to launch it. The state’s carbon pricing program has generated several times the expected revenue. And the family leave legislation has resulted in unexpected wait times for payments. It seems that lawmakers too frequently implement idealistic programs without properly thinking them through.
Cheers: To empowering athletes. Yaniesy Rodriguez, a graduate of Columbia River High School who plays professional soccer in Mexico, recently visited Hudson’s Bay High School to donate $5,000 in athletic equipment. Rodriguez is the soccer ambassador for ELLA — Empowering Leaderships in Latina Athletes. “We want it to be a chance for female athletes to showcase their skills for free, so they can be able go to school and pursue an education while playing the sport they love,” she told The Columbian.
Rodriguez, 21, was born and raised in Washington and played one season at the University of Washington before turning pro. Through her connection with ELLA, she is helping young athletes pursue a variety of opportunities.