Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Thumbs up: Mission complete

To everyone involved in closing down the Umatilla Chemical Depot after 71 years of use by the Army.

The site was initially as a munitions and general supply storehouse, receiving its first shipment or arms just six weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The depot geared up for round-the-clock operations to help the war effort. Later, the depot would supply ammunition for Americans fighting in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Operation Desert Storm.

It eventually became home to about 12 percent of the nation's stockpile of chemical weapons, and finally the site of an incineration facility that safely destroyed the deadly and outmoded arsenal.

The generations of Oregonians who've worked at the depot can be proud of their contribution to the nation's defense.

They can be even prouder of the last few years, when they turned swords into plowshares. That biblical reference is more literal than figurative in this case -- since part of the weapons storage site will be converted to farming.

Thumbs up: Rights waived

To the Washington State Court of Appeals for its common-sense ruling on David Webster's appeal.

The convicted rapist and chronic abuser of the legal system sought a new Franklin County trial on the grounds his right to a speedy trial was violated because his case ran nearly four years.

Mid-Columbians who followed the trial through accounts in the Herald and other news media must have been astounded by Webster's appeal.

It was clear to the most casual observer that Webster dragged the case out with his own erratic behavior and courtroom rants.

Even so, it was gratifying to see the Appeals Court found Webster's argument equally absurd.

Webster burned through seven court-appointed attorneys, then decided to act as his own attorney on charges he sexually assaulted his cellmate.

We wouldn't be surprised if he files a new appeal based on the incompetent legal representation he insisted on providing for himself.

Thumbs down: Sticker shock

To Washington's four-year colleges and universities for their death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach to squeezing more money out of students and their families.

Double-digit tuition increases were bad enough, but The Associated Press took a deeper look into the full array of fees and charges and discovered step increases across the board.

In addition to increasing costs of dorm rooms, books and meals, students and parents face a series of other mandatory fees included in their total college bill, AP reported.

The fee to access wireless internet and computers jumped from $75 to $123. The fee to workout in the campus gym or use other recreational facilities went from $200 to $300. The student's share of renovation projects like new stadiums or dormitories ranges from $50 to $250.

With all the sacrifices students and families make to obtain a college education, they shouldn't have to take out a second loan to cover college miscellany.

Thumbs down: Put students first

To the Kiona-Benton City School District for failing to deal with disputes between administrators and teachers in a timely and professional manner.

We're not prepared to take sides in the dispute, but if the district is like every other dysfunctional organization we've ever seen, there is plenty of blame to go around.

No doubt, one side is more culpable than the other but wasting energy on assigning blame won't help kids in the district.

Some developments are baffling. With the teachers' contract set to expire Aug. 31, why are negotiations only starting now?

Even under the best of circumstances, that's a tight deadline. With relations strained between Ki-Be teachers and administrators, we'd be surprised to see a new agreement signed before the current one expires.

Other developments just seem childish.

After a Washington Education Association representative was accused of using some rough language during an argument with high school Principal Wayne Barrett, the district's Superintendent Rom Castilleja banned all WEA representatives from most meetings with his staff and administrators.

The behavior may have been unacceptable, but more dialogue -- not less -- seems like a better way to improve relations.

Maybe some family counseling is in order. Just like in a dysfunctional home, when the grownups are fighting, it's the kids who suffer most.