Our Voice: Thumbs up to the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District

March 24, 2014 

Community perseverance

The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District board plans to remain intact.

Board members no doubt faced some temptation to dissolve. The board isn't planning on pursuing a project right now, and last year's proposed sales tax increase to pay for an aquatics center was rejected by voters.

It's frustrating to pour your energy into a project that doesn't bear fruit and tough to stay focused without a project in mind.

But the regional PFD remains the Tri-Cities' best hope of building the sort of facilities that benefit the entire community -- an aquatics center, performing arts center and convention center expansion top the list of possibilities.

The board plans to regroup and re-engage with the community about what it wants in terms of regional facilities. A new project might emerge from the process.

But we like the attitude of board member Saul Martinez. "I think with the Tri-Cities growing ... we need to maintain and keep the Tri-Cities being more and more vibrant as the years go on," said Martinez, who is also a Pasco city councilman.

Vibrant public facilities help define a vibrant community. It's good to see community leaders aren't willing to give up.

Check it out

Thumbs down to the FBI for refusing to run nationwide background checks on people applying to run legal marijuana businesses in Washington.

The agency has conducted the checks on people involved in Colorado's legal marijuana industry, The Associated Press reported. The refusal to run similar checks here is perplexing.

Washington officials have been asking for almost a year if the FBI would conduct background checks on its applicants, to no avail, according to the AP.

It's strange because keeping people with criminal histories from obtaining pot licenses is in the federal government's best interest.

The Obama administration has said it wants the states to make sure pot revenue doesn't go to organized crime and that state marijuana industries don't become a cover for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or conduits for moving pot into neighboring states.

Keeping known criminals out of the industry is a logical and simple first line of defense. The FBI ought to be insisting on conducting background checks, not refusing to do so.

Obstructing oversight

Thumbs down to the Obama administration for withholding 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program.

President Obama's actions run counter to his administration's public assertions that it supports the committee's work. Despite the assurances, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation found.

The administration's refusal to turn them over or to agree to any compromise raises questions about what they would reveal about the CIA's use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons, McClatchy concluded.

Some members of the Senate committee have decried what they contend has been the CIA's refusal to surrender key materials on the agency's use under the Bush administration of interrogation methods denounced by panel chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, as "un-American" and "brutal."

Congressional oversight of our nation's intelligence-gathering operations is the public's only assurance against abuses. The White House should facilitate that oversight, not act as an obstacle.

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