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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Emergency powers; now hiring

The Columbian

Cheers: To emergency powers. A Washington state appeals court has dismissed a claim challenging Gov. Jay Inslee’s use of emergency proclamations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court decided the issue is moot at this point, saying, “the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique circumstance that is unlikely to recur.” While we hope that is true, the dismissal highlights the importance of a governor holding emergency powers.

Inslee should have involved the Legislature once the initial threat of COVID had dissipated, but the need for decisive action when a crisis arises is evident. Despite numerous legal challenges from critics, the governor’s power to take action has been repeatedly upheld by the courts. Lawmakers would be wise to examine the extent of those powers, but we hope this is the end of specious legal complaints about Inslee’s actions. Those complaints have had no foundation in law or common sense.

Jeers: To a lack of workers. As the national economy adds jobs at a robust pace, employers in Clark County continue to decry a lack of workers. “We need people to go back to work,” one local recruiter said. “There’s still a demand out there for qualified folks that want to show up on time and put in a meaningful 40 hours a week.”

Several factors are contributing to a nationwide shortage of workers. One is changing priorities for employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; another is a shortage of available child care that keeps many people from entering the workforce. More jobs than workers is a good problem to have; it’s better than having it the other way around. But companies will need to fill available positions in order for the economy to reach its potential.

Cheers: To a bit of history. The interpretive center at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Camas recently threw a party to celebrate the mill’s 140th anniversary. “You know, we used to be the largest specialty paper mill in the world,” the center’s curator told visitors.

Although the mill has downsized over the past five decades and Camas’ economy has diversified, the facility has played a significant role in the history of Clark County. As the Camas-Washougal Post-Record reports: “Camas literally grew up around the mill, with its downtown fanning outward from the mill’s location instead of being platted on a regular grid.” All of that seems worthy of a celebration some 140 years later.

Jeers: To discourteous parkgoers. Some visitors to Heritage Park in Camas, adjacent to Lacamas Lake, are spoiling the experience for others. “About 95 percent of the people are really nice,” said Trang Lam, the city’s parks and recreation director. “But every single weekend we have a handful of people who are mean to our parking lot attendants … or just not being courteous with other people. … I want to put it out there that people aren’t nice anymore.”

Crowded conditions in the parking lot and at the boat ramp are heightening the tension. But that is no excuse for being a jerk.

Cheers: To good police work. Clark County sheriff’s deputies this week rescued a man who was dangling from an overpass above the intersection of Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. Deputies arrived after motorists called to report a man hanging on to a light pole. A deputy talked with the man, who after about 20 minutes agreed to come back onto the bridge.

The man was taken to a hospital on a mental health hold, and sheriff’s office officials said, “Great professionalism, patience and empathy were key in the lifesaving outcome of this incident.” Cheers go to the deputies who helped avert a potential tragedy.