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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: Transparency; unpaid debt

The Columbian
Published: March 4, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To election transparency. Claims of election fraud in recent years have failed to uncover widespread wrongdoing anywhere in the United States. In fact, the spreading of lies cost Fox News $787 million in a settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. But there has been a benefit to the specious accusations: increased public scrutiny of elections systems.

In Washington, such scrutiny includes a test of vote-tabulation equipment — a test that is mandated by state law prior to each election and is open to the public.

Clark County conducted its test recently in advance of Washington’s March 12 presidential primary; observers included representatives of both major political parties, a member of the secretary of state’s office, and a Columbian reporter. Among the more interesting security measures: The room with the tabulating machine is a “two-person room,” meaning nobody may enter alone from the time the test is conducted until after an election is certified. It is among many measures ensuring that Clark County elections are fair and accurate.

Jeers: To unpaid debt. The Vancouver City Council has voted to forgive $15,000 of a $25,000 loan made in 1999 to Share, a nonprofit provider of services to the unhoused. The decision to forgive the loan is debatable, but the bigger issue is why Share stopped payments in 2010 and why nobody from the city noticed the oversight.

“That’s worrisome and concerning with public tax dollars,” Councilor Diana Perez said. Indeed, it is. There has been staff turnover since then at both the city and Share, and City Manager Eric Holmes said Vancouver has measures to ensure such a scenario does not occur again. Taxpayers hope that is the case.

Cheers: To working together. Officials from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Clark County have announced a partnership for improving fish habitat and recreation opportunities in the Gordy Jolma Family Natural Area. The effort will focus on removing fish barriers in the area, which previously was part of The Cedars on Salmon Creek golf course.

The county purchased most of the golf course land in 2022. Making it more accessible to wildlife — and the public — is a worthy use for the area. As Cowlitz General Council Chairwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser said: “We are actively contributing to a healthier future for our community.”

Jeers: To lousy driving. In a scene akin to a big-budget Hollywood movie, a pickup truck crashed into a fire hydrant in east Vancouver last week, unleashing thousands of gallons of water and flooding an intersection. Because of the volume of water and debris, it took a while to locate the water main shutoff valve and halt the flow.

The result was a mess that caused a temporary street closure and probably did not do the pickup truck any good. Witnesses said the vehicle’s occupants fled before emergency responders arrived. If they are looking for their truck, they should contact local police.

Cheers: To high school sports. Clark County was well represented in last week’s state basketball tournaments, with local teams qualifying to compete in Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane. The tournaments are the culmination of the winter sports season, but they also are the culmination of years of practice by players — and years of commutes by parents.

Bringing together schools from throughout the state in a large arena creates lifelong memories for young athletes. It also creates an exciting spectacle for spectators.