Letters to the Editor for Feb. 25, 2014

City Council should support I-502 in Camas

The demand for marijuana is spinning off enormous profits for drug cartels, for gangs, and for illegal dealers.

Allowing regulated marijuana sales in Camas would allow us to refocus limited city resources on more important priorities and would redirect millions of dollars that are currently flowing to criminal organizations each year to legitimate businesses and provide a source of additional revenue for Camas.

It is time for us to try a regulatory approach that frees criminal justice resources for more appropriate priorities and strikes a better cost-benefit balance than the strategy we’ve been pursuing.

Camas is a nice city to live in and we should do our best to keep it that way by allowing one nice retail store that is properly regulated by the LCB. Rather than turning a blind eye to the illegal black market already operating in Camas, let’s get it out in the open where it can be regulated and kept out of the hands of minors by utilizing the strict rules prescribed by I-502.

There are already a number of house bills being introduced and in committee that would prevent cities opting out of I-502 to receive any of the revenue benefits of the initiative and even the ACLU is considering litigation against cities not allowing I-502 sales. This is heading our way; last Friday two federal agencies even cleared the way for banks to do business with the state’s legal marijuana businesses.

The city council should step up and understand that the time and cost-benefit balance to regulate a legal marijuana store is far better than the cost of allowing the illegal market to continue without the benefits of a revenue stream.

Mike Wagner, Camas

Training wage is not a solution

Rep, Liz Pike, in her recent guest column, stated that her House Bill 2614 to create a “training wage,” which would be 75 percent of the state minimum wage, is a “great think outside the box measure.”

I believe that on the contrary, this concept is right in the middle of the well worn gold plated Republican box. Republicans across the country have fought to keep the minimum wage as low as possible, or to eliminate it entirely for decades.

Washington already has a “training wage,” it’s called the minimum wage. Although the highest minimum wage in the country is actually the city of San Francisco with a minimum of $10.74 per hour, thankfully Washington does have a comparatively high minimum wage but even at $9.32 per hour that would not be enough to provide the basic necessities for most people in today’s economy.

As the Spokesman Review reported last year, studies have shown that a single, unmarried worker in Washington state needs a wage of at least $16.13 an hour to make ends meet.

One of the reasons less youth are in the workplace is because the miserable Republican created economy of the last several years has forced working age adults to take any job available, including minimum wage positions.

If a lower “training wage” was created, those same adults would be competing for the jobs, and be forced to take even lower wages than they are now.

Although Rep. Pike states this wage would be for youth, she fails to mention that it’s against the law for employers to discriminate based on age, so they would have to be made available to all, regardless of age.

Rep. Pike also stated that “there is no current incentive for employers to hire unskilled teen workers....” I believe if she was to talk to the state of Washington Workforce Agency, “WorkSource” she would find they have a variety of training programs for youth, including on the job training programs where employers can have a portion of their wage reimbursed while the youth is learning the job.

Instead of looking at ways the state of Washington could actually create new jobs for adults and youth, Rep. Pike is going down the well worn Republican path of reducing the minimum wage of hard working citizens by any means possible.

Martin Burrows, Camas

Pike’s proposal is not about our children

Rep. Liz Pike’s Feb. 19 Post-Record guest column in support of her House Bill 2614 needs another perspective.

She touts this as a “temporary training wage” for “teen employment,” yet the bill mentions no age restriction, or the need to provide any specific training. RCWs 49.12.110 and 49.46.060 already allow a sub-minimum wage for physically or mentally handicapped persons. Rep. Pike proposes expanding that to allow businesses to underpay anyone they choose.

With summer coming, along with the need for summer workers, here’s a perfect opportunity for small and large employers alike to legally higher sub-minimum wage workers. Employers could underpay a worker for a season, then discard them without reason (after 680 hours), and rehire another sub-minimum wage worker to continue underpaying their employees.

Perhaps Rep. Pike could explain why anyone would need 680 hours (17 weeks/four months of full time work) to train for a job that pays less than minimum wage? This is nothing but a ploy to enable cheap(er) labor. 17 weeks coincidentally covers our growing season, our summer tourism season, and other periods where low-skilled labor is needed.

The assertion that the inability of teenagers to find minimum wage jobs is hardly directly attributable to the fact that Washington has the nation’s highest minimum wage. Perhaps the horrible economic conditions which require adult wage earners to accept (sometimes multiple) minimum wage jobs to provide for their families is to blame. Either way, the ‘teen employment’ dodge is just obfuscating the fact that this bill would subjugate efforts to raise workers out of poverty. Rep. Pike is playing on sentimentality and suggesting this is all about our children, which it clearly is not.

In this age of extreme income inequality and rising poverty in this country, reducing anyone’s wage, under any guise, should raise serious concern.

Tony Adams, Camas

Rational weapon policies are needed

Wow! It never occurred to me that attending a contentious Board of Clark County Commissioners meeting, or more worrisome, speaking at a BoCC meeting could actually put me in danger.

Interesting that the County has a policy to insure that employees are not carrying concealed weapons, but there is no prohibition for the public in county facilities. Interesting that the no-weapons policy for employees does not carry any type of enforcement; where are the scanners?

We should feel sorry for those employees who are standing in front of the general public, who it turns out may well be “packing heat.” But those employees have no protection themselves.

This is in no way advocacy for allowing county employees to carry weapons. This is a cry for rational policies that no one should be allowed to be in county facilities “packing heat.”

How do we get this on the agenda as soon as possible?

Karen Hengerer, Vancouver