Our Voice: Thumbs up to Southridge development's use of green energy

The new geothermal neighborhood being built in Kennewick puts Southridge on the cutting edge of green technology, because 400 lots in the development are going to use this new energy system. Once completed, company officials said it will be the largest geothermal neighborhood in the nation.

It's exciting for the Tri-Cities to be part of such a huge energy-saving project. Developers Milo Bauder and Grant Young said they decided to add geothermal grids to each lot because of the environmental benefits and the potential cost savings to homeowners. They estimate carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by at least 10,000 metric tons each year, while energy bills for the homes could be cut by 50 percent to 70 percent.

The system works by using water running through underground pipes that can cool and heat the homes. EnerGeo of Richland is installing a geothermal heat pump system for the first lots of the subdivision, which developers hope will be ready to be sold by October.

Any system that uses energy more efficiently is an asset, and it's great the Tri-Cities will be a leader in the effort.

Checked and ignored

Thumbs down to Washington state officials for allowing people who fail criminal background checks to work with the developmentally disabled. This is a frightening situation that needs to be corrected immediately.

A recent state audit found that the state does not have the staff in place to adequately review the results of background checks. As a result, 23 caregivers who have criminal histories were employed and allowed to work with some of the most vulnerable members of society. Some of these employees had criminal records involving assaults, thefts, drugs, abuse and financial crimes. That they were hired as caregivers is outrageous.

Clearly, more oversight is needed. Now that the audit is complete, state officials said they are trying to improve the process and make sure background checks are reviewed before someone is allowed to work with people with developmental issues.

It's a shame it took an audit and public awareness to make this a priority. What's the point of conducting a background check if nobody looks at it? People with criminal histories should never be put in a position where they potentially could take advantage of a vulnerable human being. People with disabilities need protection and help. It's time to get a process in place that ensures that.

Ridiculous request

Thumbs down to the idea that without sexual harassment training, people don't know how to behave in the workplace. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is facing numerous allegations from eight women that he made unwanted advances while on the job. His lawyer is claiming that because the city failed to provide sexual harassment training for Filner, it should pay his defense costs.

It's a ridiculous request, but appears to be the only way the attorney can deflect blame away from his client. Sexual harassment training is a valuable tool, but it shouldn't replace common sense and human decency. Filner is a grown man in a position of power and should know better. The city shouldn't be expected to help him out.