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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.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Tidy buses; trashy roads

The Columbian
Published: September 25, 2023, 6:03am

Cheers: To clean public spaces. C-Tran buses are cleaned several times each day, “specifically while idling in between trips and every night at the maintenance yard where they also are fueled and serviced,” according to a recent article from Columbian reporter William Seekamp. Transit field service workers wipe down “major touch points with cleaning solution, including the seats, railings and handles, and clean up anything that had been left behind.”

That information is reassuring in the wake of a troubling study from the University of Washington. Researchers found that residue from fentanyl and methamphetamine is common on public transit vehicles in Portland and Seattle (C-Tran was not part of the study). Experts say the level of residue is not a threat to other passengers, but its presence reflects the ongoing need for cities to crack down on drug use in public. Cheers go to the C-Tran workers who strive to keep transit safe for the public.

Jeers: To littering. Nearly 38 million pounds of debris were strewn across roads, rest areas and state lands in Washington last year, according to a study commissioned by the state Department of Ecology. That’s nearly 5 pounds per resident.

The refuse equate to 8,000 pieces of trash for each mile of the state’s roadways — far exceeding the national average of 5,700 pieces per mile according to a separate report. “It’s heartbreaking to see the most beautiful state in the country marred by litter,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. Most Washingtonians, we’re guessing, have respect for nature and never litter. But those who do are spoiling the landscape for the rest of us.

Cheers: To keeping an eye on growth. More people means more housing developments and more traffic and more industrial projects and retail outlets. Such is the situation in Ridgefield, where members of the city council and other officials took a tour this week to view their rapidly changing community.

For the past decade, Ridgefield has been among the fastest- growing cities in Washington. The result is a Costco, vast development and maybe an In-N-Out Burger. As Mayor Jennifer Lindsay said: “None of these projects are one-off projects. They’re all part of a bigger picture.” Longtime residents or those who moved to Ridgefield for its small-town feel might not recognize their city. Keeping tabs on the growth can help ensure that it is a benefit and not a drawback.

Jeers: To scammers. Fraudsters have been calling residents in the Tacoma area asking for donations to assist three police officers who are facing trial in the death of Manuel “Manny” Ellis while in custody. Police officials emphasize that the department is not involved with the phone calls.

The 2020 death and the trial that started last week are traumatizing enough for the community. Trying to take advantage of that tension is callous and exacerbates the strain of an emotional situation, further dividing our society.

Cheers: To libraries. The only library in Columbia County has been saved from possible closure. Critics of the library’s content had succeeded in placing a measure on the November ballot that could shutter the facility. But a court commissioner in the southeastern Washington county has ruled that the measure disenfranchised some voters and that the effort was wrought with fraud.

That is a victory for those who believe in the value of public libraries. But halting one effort through legal technicalities does not end the absurd attacks on information and free speech that are taking place throughout the nation.