Friday, March 19, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Just ask Bill Ward

If the more-than-a-year-old federal stimulus bill were a student in high school, it would be eating alone at a table in the cafeteria, getting hit with a never-ending barrage of spitballs.

Yes, this landmark $787 billion legislation, credited by President Barack Obama and others for forestalling a second Great Depression, is that popular among many members of this region’s business community.

Yet even with its many detractors, our reporting over the past year has uncovered many examples of the stimulus bill’s positive impact on Washington business owners and their employees.

Take Bill Ward, principal at Management Engineering Associates LLC in Camas, who this week found out that his firm had been awarded a multi-year contact worth about $1 million through the Federal Recovery Act to convert existing government facilities to high performing “green” buildings.

As you might expect, Ward was plenty pleased with the stimulus funding his business is set to receive through the contract, which may give his firm its best opportunity in years to expand beyond its four full-time employees and scores of contractors.

But in a statement not heard, reported or even conceived of in some quarters lately, Ward also had plenty of praise for the way the federal government handled the allocation of stimulus funding: “I know there are plenty of people critical of the program,” he said. “But I want people to know that funds have been allocated, distributed and implemented through the Recovery Act. This is good follow through.”

Talking with Ward about his company’s rising fortunes reminded me of something my high school civics teacher taught me – politics is more about what people think is wrong with society than it is about what’s going right. And that may be why we haven’t been hearing good news like Bill Ward’s of late.

I agree with many of our readers that the stimulus plan isn’t the answer to all of our economy’s ills in the wake of one of the most severe downturns in memory. As a proponent of free-market capitalism, I believe that private business, not government, is going to be the sector that ultimately lifts our economy fully out of recession.

But there are good things that government has done, and still may yet do, for businesses.

Just ask Bill Ward.


Jim West said...


You are right. The government has done some good things. I think anyone who just recieved a million dollars from the government would have some nice things to say about what the government is doing. Of course we're not sure of the cost and the time and resources it took over the past year to get to the decsion to allocate that million dollars, but I'm sure your and my children will see a great return on investment as they continue to pay for Mr Ward's services over the next twenty eyars.