Arts group has imagination, determination

February 4, 2013 

YAY: MONEY FOR ARTS

The greater Olympia area is well-known for its energetic arts scene, and a group of these artists and their supporters are dreaming big. Good for them.

The Olympia Artspace Alliance, which hopes to create artist studios and living spaces in downtown Olympia, has raised $36,000 to do a market feasibility study of the idea. The City of Olympia is contributing $10,000, for a total of $46,000.

It’s impressive the group could raise so much money for a study in such a short time.

BOO: DRY CLEANING BILLS

South Sound Legislators Rep. Gary Alexander, Rep. Chris Reykdal and Sen. Tim Sheldon were among the 19 state lawmakers who billed taxpayers for their dry cleaning over the last two years.

Alexander dinged us the most, receiving $509.92 in reimbursements for having his clothes cleaned and pressed. Sheldon took $320 and Reykdal just $83.32.

It isn’t the amount of money that rankles us, it’s the idea that legislators think the public should pay to clean their shirts. Does your employer pay for your dry cleaning?

Reimbursing lawmakers for dry cleaning is one of those obsolete perks of elected office that should be retired, starting now.

BOO: PHONE BILLS

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, has introduced a bill to reduce state employee spending on cellphones. That’s good.

But the bill won’t apply to state lawmakers. They get reimbursed for their cellphone bills, and it appears some are abusing the system. That’s bad.

Lawmakers are consistently charging taxpayers $130 to $150 per month, and as much as $300 to $400 per month for cellphone usage. In one case, the public was paying for a senator’s entire family plan.

Benton himself is receiving $150 per month. He’s also one of a handful of lawmakers still billing taxpayers for his dry cleaning.

YAY: PROMOTING HEALTH

The battle against childhood obesity must be fought on many fronts, and the Tumwater School District is definitely doing its part.

Awarded a $1 million grant from the federal Department of Education, Tumwater schools have launched a three-year effort to increase physical activity and improve nutritional education and opportunities for its students.

By encouraging students to exercise more and make healthy foods choices, the school district will improve the lives of many young people.

YAY: AREA SCHOOLS

In other good South Sound school news, Madison Elementary school was recognized as one of five schools in the state making extraordinary progress in student achievement.

And five schools – Olympic View Elementary, East Olympia Elementary, Madison Elementary, Tumwater High School and Lackamas Elementary in Yelm – were named Schools of Distinction in Washington for their academic improvements.

BOO: CATFISHING

If you think catfishing is something people do with poles and live bait, or what household pets do around goldfish bowls, you’re out of touch.

Catfishing is the term given to what old-fashioned folks would call playing a cruel practical joke. Specifically, it refers to the phenomenon of creating a fake identity and tricking someone into developing an online romantic relationship with you.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was catfished when he fell in love with a woman who was suffering from leukemia and died. Of course, she was not real, and Te’o says he was tricked.

The questionable ethical behavior of catfishing aside, can people really fall in love without ever meeting someone in person?

BOO: BAD ARGUMENT

Desperate for a persuasive reason to define marriage as between a man and a woman, opponents of marriage equality have come up with a novel – albeit puzzling – new argument.

Only the union of a man and woman, they say, can create the unplanned and unintended consequence of procreation. Same-sex couples who want children in their family have to plan for it.

And here we thought family planning was a good idea.

YAY: USAF

Army troops deployed out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord always receive well-deserved respect and attention as they head into harms way and return.

Here’s a shout-out to our nation’s airmen and airwomen also stationed at JBLM, and who deploy almost every day from McChord to some destination around the world. Air Force deployments tend to get overlooked, because they fly out of JBLM and return there, often within a 24-hour period.

We salute you.

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