Our Voice: Thumbs up for pushing technology

To proposed legislation that would allow scientific breakthroughs at national labs to be more easily transferred to the private sector.

For too long, many exciting innovations discovered at the nation's labs have ended up smothered by bureacratic policies that delay their release to the world.

Richland's Pacific Northwest National Lab already has a strong track record of moving new technology to private businesses, but this new legislation will make the process easier for it and other national labs across the country.

It gives lab officials authority to negotiate contract terms, payment structures and performance guarantees. Lab directors also will be allowed to charge private companies more than the lab's cost for services performed if the extra money is used for research and development.

Having that kind of funding source should provide more momentum and consistency for scientists working on new projects.

This is a good piece of legislation and helps streamline a process that can enhance American science and technology even more.

Serious allegations

Thumbs down to the response by Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim when told of a lawsuit filed against the jail by a Seattle-based legal aid organization.

He called the lawsuit a "bunch of lies" and said the attorneys are "liberal and naive" to "think that if you just get everybody in a big group hug in jail, everybody will be fine. It doesn't work like that."

A respectful reaction would have been better.

The lawsuit, which has been filed in U.S. District Court, claims mentally ill inmates in Franklin County are chained to a fence for days, pepper-sprayed without reason, left unsupervised in restraint chairs and forced into isolation.

While it is understandable Sheriff Lathim would defend his employees, his blunt response to the lawsuit didn't help matters.

He showed an alarming disregard for decorum.

Public officials need to be careful with their words and, at the very least, present an appearance of concern when faced with grievous accusations. The public should feel confident its elected officials can take complaints seriously.

The lawsuit is a grave matter, its merits notwithstanding, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Construction stress

Thumbs down to all the inconvenience and stress surrounding the delayed construction of the Dayton Street bridge.

Closed roads and city construction projects are a necessary nuisance. However, in this particular case the issue is heading beyond irritation.

There are now congestion and safety issues to be addressed.

City officials purposely scheduled the construction for the summer when school was out. That way it would be completed before students start back on Aug. 26.

Access to Kennewick High School is now closed on Dayton Street from Fourth Avenue. When all those students arrive at the same time, having one less entrance to get into the school parking lot is going to cause a challenge --especially since teen drivers generally are not known for their patience.

The contractor of the Idaho company in charge, Accelerated Construction & Excavating, said the late delivery of girders and other building materials set the project back.

Delays happen, but it is a shame the schedule was so tight that there was such little room for error.

Crew officials and the city are trying to work through this mess. They have to figure alternate bus routes and find a way to keep students safe while construction is still going on.

Not a way to start the school year.