Thumbs up: Richland makes right move

September 24, 2012 

Thumbs Up to the Richland City Council for standing behind the city's zoning regulations and denying a developer's request to build a 44-unit condominium project.

Developer Tony Tahvilli of TMT Homes in Kennewick was hoping to build four three-story buildings on 10.4 acres off Meadow Hills Drive, west of the Meadow Hills subdivision in south Richland.

To proceed with the project, he needed the city's approval to allow greater density through changing the zoning from single-family residential.

Zoning laws protect everyone in the community by ensuring an orderly plan for development that property owners can depend on. Changes shouldn't be made without a compelling public interest.

No such interest was shown in this case. The city did the right thing.

Expanded opportunities

To Columbia Basin College and Department of Energy contractor Battelle for launching a two-year associate's degree and bachelor degree programs in cybersecurity.

Any new opportunities for Mid-Columbians to stay home and pursue an education are welcome. It's good for students -- particularly those who are place-bound by family responsibilities or other circumstance -- and it's good for the community.

Any new collaborations between local businesses and educational institutions also are welcome. Battelle, which operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, excels at partnering with Tri-City schools, from providing speakers for grade school classes on up to helping pay for college programs.

The $118,000 Battelle is providing to get the cybersecurity program off the ground is just the latest example.

Courses of study that help fill a real-world need are one of CBC's strengths. With the increasing number of cyberattacks on government agencies and private companies, the new program certainly plays to that strength.

Mum's the word

To Gov. Chris Gregoire for trying to create a new way to keep government documents secret.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a lawsuit filed by the Freedom Foundation over the governor's claim that "executive privilege" exempts some government documents from public disclosure.

Gregoire's position harkens back to the Nixon administration, when President Nixon invoked a similar claim in an attempt to keep a criminal prosecutor from obtaining taped conversations regarding the Watergate break-in.

The Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes, but also recognized the president can legally invoke executive privilege in some cases.

The attempt to stretch that ruling to cover the governor's office is contrary to Washington's Public Records Act, passed by the voters in 1972, which makes all state and local government records public except those exempted by law.

There are hundreds of exemptions -- which could have protected some, if not all, of the 250 pages of documents Gregoire has tried to shoe-horn into an executive privilege claim.

But executive privilege isn't one of exemptions. This attempt to expand the boundaries of government secrecy doesn't serve the public's interest and ought to be abandoned.

A vote for ignorance

To U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, for opposing the creation of a Manahattan Project National Historic Park.

"The bomb is about graveyards, not national parks," Kucinich argued during a limited House debate last week. The bill failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass under the special rules but won far more votes than the 50 percent needed during most House proceedings.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., promises to bring the issue back to a vote under normal rules, so last week's vote was encouraging in a way.

We were less encouraged by Kucinich's remarks, which support the harebrained notion that preservation efforts ought to exclude controversial aspects of our heritage. Goodbye Civil War battlefields.

The floor debate turned into a discussion about the merits of President Truman's decision to use the bomb against Japan during World War II.

Kucinich quoted Dwight Eisenhower as saying he had second thoughts about the bombings because he believed Japan already was seeking a way to surrender with dignity.

Hastings countered, "Let's talk reality at the time. ... We were in a war for survival."

That's exactly the sort of debate we'd expect the Manhattan Project National Historic Park to inspire. Such debate and introspection is a good thing, regardless of where you stand on the decision to drop the bomb.

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