Columns

Council meetings – when?

The Washougal City Council is considering a major change to the schedule of meetings and workshops. Presently, council meetings (formal public hearings, actions and votes) are held at 6 p.m., on the first and third Monday. Workshops (staff reports, information and discussion, but no votes) are also at 6 p.m., on the second and fourth Mondays. If Monday is a national holiday the meeting is postponed until Tuesday.

Council will look at short- and long-term utility rate solutions

Utility bills are the big issue in Washougal. They should be. In 2012, the minimum bimonthly residential charge was $174.60. That base charge went up 20 percent ($37) to $211.13 this year. But the Council could take action on Jan. 22 that might keep the increase to less than $10. If the increase is kept that low, it will be the result of a creative Council, mayor, and staff. This would not have happened without hearing from our citizens.

Camas needs to prepare to ‘go to war’ with BPA

The BPA draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project they have strategically named the I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project was published in November 2012. Many people reading this letter to the editor may have only minimal familiarity with the project. I can assure you, those members of our community who are directly along the paths that BPA is considering are quickly becoming more knowledgeable about this project. If you think the current power lines running through Camas are ugly, I encourage you to look at the size and shape of the new and bigger power lines towers. They make the current towers look like midgets.

Parents, communities can help stop teen drinking tragedies

The recent deaths of three Washington teens—a 14-year-old Bellingham girl, a 17-year-old boy in Shoreline, and an 18-year-old Washington State University student —remind us just how dangerous alcohol is for minors. As parents and co-chairs of the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking our hearts go out to the families and friends who are suffering these terrible losses. Before we lose another child, grandchild, student, and friend, let's ask ourselves what we as adults are doing to encourage or discourage underage drinking.

Some politicians are gambling with our future

I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area when the 1989 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake broke the Bay Bridge. The hardest hit areas were the bridge, the marina area of San Francisco, and in West Oakland where the double decker Cypress elevated freeway collapsed, killing 42 people. Many people wondered why the hardest hit areas were 40 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake with so little damage closer. It was explained that the areas were built on bay fill subject to liquefaction.

Ballots should be due on Election Day

Several state races on election night 2012 looked a lot like the 2004 race for governor with the races for governor, Initiative 1240 for charter schools and secretary of state being too close to call. These races ultimately wouldn’t be decided until later in the week. On election night 2004, then Attorney General Chris Gregoire led state Sen. Dino Rossi by 7,000 votes. By the time all the ballots had been counted (the first time) two weeks later on Nov. 17, Rossi led Gregoire by 261. A few recounts later, Gregoire was ultimately declared the winner by a mere 133 votes. A legal challenge would uphold Gregoire’s victory.

For manufacturers, action speaks louder than words

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tell voters they want manufacturers to stay in America and create new jobs. The president even promised an audience in New Hampshire that he’d create 4.5 million new jobs, half of those in manufacturing. Why all the talk about manufacturing? Our country is the world’s largest manufacturing economy with 21 percent of the global manufactured goods produced here. China is second at 15 percent, and Japan is third at 12 percent.

Public works outsourcing: Proceed with caution

I read with interest the article in this newspaper about the city of Washougal’s plans to explore the feasibility of outsourcing the work now performed by employees in its public works department. Affected public works employees would most likely be laid off and the work would be done by employees or contractors working for the outsource company. Having written about outsourcing in the legal industry and having led a delegation of lawyers to India to meet with companies doing outsourced work, I was quite surprised and concerned. I sent emails to the mayor and members of the City Council and started a Facebook page (Don’t Outsource Washougal). The Mayor and one council member responded to my emails and Mayor Guard even weighed in on the Facebook page.

Farmers markets offer more than food

Farmers Markets are popping up in small towns across rural America. Increasingly, farmers and ranchers realize there is interest in fresh, locally-grown food. And while it may not be their only source of income, it puts local dollars in local pockets and impacts the health of local folks.

Primary election politics can have significant impacts

Primary elections are funny creatures. They can take on many different meanings. For candidates who win the primary, they point to the results and declare themselves on a roll and deserving of support. Politicos study the results much like they do polling data. This helps them determine who should be considered for general election support both financially and otherwise.