Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Spring on the Reserve

A sunny, spring day at the Fort Vancouver National Site will make an optimist out of anyone. So with this unalterable fact in mind, here’s my plan: instead of bussing in schoolchildren to tour the old fort, we should start a caravan of businesspeople from east to west, south and north Clark County and let these mostly office-bound folk run free in the green grass, under the giant 100-year-old oaks.

Better yet, let’s wrangle up a few loan officers to see how far a little sunshine and fresh air will go in improving their outlook.

It’s true we all could use a little lightness in what have proved to be unrelentingly stressful times in most people’s lives.

Globally, we have a growing sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Nationally, we’re dealing with two political parties that can’t seem to agree even on bad ideas, much less the good ones. At home, we’ve been officially called an economically “distressed” county by the state – a designation I’m sure the newly-branded Visit Vancouver USA – Discover the Original tourism board will be sure to leave out of its marketing brochures.

This gloomy scene has me hunting for good news wherever I can find it. Unfortunately, for my native state of New York, much of the good news for the folks in Southwest Washington lies in a side-by-side comparison with the Empire State.

Think the recently-concluded Washington state legislative session was like a bad joke that wouldn’t end? Then take a trip to my hometown of Albany, N.Y., where legislators have been sitting on their hands as the state’s government, schools and nonprofit agencies all run out of money for lack of a budget – now 28 days overdue and counting.

Scratching your head over the latest tax increases passed in Olympia this month? Well, take solace that you live in a state ranked 11th in terms of business tax burden in the U.S., according to the Tax Foundation’s 2010 State Business Tax Climate Index. New York is 49th on the list, perhaps accounting for the phenomenon of this editor running into a former high school classmate at Pioneer Place in Portland every couple of months.

But enough gloating; we don’t need to look to the East to make us feel better.

Here in our own backyard, we got word this morning of the triumphant return of the Fourth of July celebration at Fort Vancouver National Site, which should have every Southwest Washingtonian rubbing their hands together in anticipation of backyard barbecues, leisurely strolls in the park and yes, fireworks – in short, everything good in the world.

Because as spring turns to summer, it’s always easier to see the glass as half full. Just make sure you’re not looking at the price of the beer you’re pouring into it, is all.


Paul Leonard said...

Got a correction here, folks: Washington state is listed 9th, not 11th, on the 2010 State Business Tax Climate Index. I regret the error.