Thumbs up: Baby Shower
Saint Martin’s University this week hosted “Operation Baby Shower,” an opportunity for military families to pick up free formula, wipes, toys, other baby supplies and a chance for parents to get their children’s teeth and eyes checked. Sponsored in conjunction with the Association of the United States Army, the baby shower attracted nearly 1,000 people. The line of parents and kids wrapped halfway around Marcus Pavilion at the Lacey campus. What a great idea. It was a way for military families to get needed supplies, have their children’s health screened and pick up some information about finances and school options. With more than 18,000 soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returning in waves last March and some of the largest homecomings taking place over the summer, officials at Madigan Army Hospital say they are prepared for a post-deployment baby boomlet. Madigan expects a peak in births to take place in May or June. It anticipates delivering between 280 and 300 babies in those months, said Lt. Col. Jason Pates, Madigan’s chief of obstetrics. The baby shower was a great way to show parents and those about to become parents that they have support and resources in the community that they can turn to.
Thumbs down: Jail
It appears that City of Olympia officials and their insurance carrier better get ready to write a check to a woman who has filed a lawsuit against the city and three corrections officers saying she was illegally strip-searched at the jail and shot with a Taser when she refused to disrobe. In the city’s answer to the claim, officials say its investigation found that the officers violated the woman’s civil rights and that the strip search was indeed illegal. Yikes. Reports say the woman, Cynthia Brown, was arrested in 2008 on a misdemeanor charge of trespassing. A male corrections officer ordered her to remove her clothing down to her underwear. Washington law prohibits opposite-sex strip searches. Brown’s demands to have a female corrections officer present were greeted by a shot to her chest with a Taser. She eventually disrobed, but the charge against Brown was later dismissed. The city’s answer to the illegal strip search lawsuit does not contradict Brown’s version of events. The case against the city and corrections officers is scheduled to go to trial in October in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. It does not appear that the city has much of a defense. Brown’s attorney, Edwin Budge of Seattle, said he hopes the lawsuit ensures that no one else is subjected to such treatment. On that we can agree. Clearly retraining of the jail staff was warranted after the way Brown was treated.
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Thumbs up: Market Idea
Mathias Eichler, who owns a European product store called einmaleins at 121 State Ave. N.E., is a strong advocate for downtown Olympia and bringing more visitors to the city’s central business and entertainment district. He has asked the Olympia City Council to consider creating a downtown market. The market would be similar to Olympia’s wildly popular Farmers Market at the foot of Capitol Way, offering produce and crafts. “I want another regular weekly market because I think the city is creative enough,” Eichler said. Eichler has a record of success. He has organized several events that have closed Washington Street from Fourth and State avenues, putting together a holiday market and a market during Arts Walk. He also has secured permission to shut the street for the past two years for A Table for Olympia, a sort of block party and potluck in the middle of downtown. “The community loves just being in the middle of the street,” said Eichler, who promotes permanently closing a downtown street to encourage pedestrian traffic and festivals. The market idea is worthy of further study. It’s a baby step toward what is really needed which is more market-rate housing and a truly vibrant business and entertainment district. If the market idea gains ground, limits will have to be put in place or we’ll have every junk dealer from Portland to Seattle wanting to set up shop. Eichler’s idea is a good one that deserves full consideration to flush out the pros and cons.