Lacey hamster heroics win PETA award

YAY: Save the hamsters

Lacey Fire District 3 firefighters won a PETA award for reviving most members of a family of hamsters rendered unconscious by toxic fumes in a recent mobile home fire. The firefighters were able to adapt dog-and-cat oxygen masks for the tiny furry critters. Given the dedication of these emergency responders, we bet they would have administered mouth-to-mouth resusicaton, if necessary. Wonder what they would have done for pet snakes, or tarantulas?

YAY: Vietnam homecoming

The Vietnam War divided America. Nearly a third of all Americans opposed the war. It led to riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and to the fatal shooting of four war protestors at Kent State University. One of the greatest tragedies was that returning soldiers – most of whom were drafted into service – were too often either ignored or reviled.

Surviving Vietnam vets will get a long overdue recognition this week in a formal “welcome home” celebration at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Thank you, JBLM. It’s about time.

YAY: New Thurston judge

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Mary Sue Wilson to the Thurston County Superior Court this week to fill the open position created when Lisa Sutton moved to the state Court of Appeals. Wilson comes from the Attorney General’s Office where she focused on environmental cases, including the failed Hanford cleanup efforts.

BOO: U.S. Forest Service

Taking photographs in federally-managed wilderness areas could cost $1,500 unless the U.S. Forest Service drops an ill-considered proposed new rule. The Forest Service bans commercial enterprises in wilderness areas for good reason. But lumping in photography that might appear in a newspaper, on television on as part of someone’s blog makes no sense. And it sure seems like a violation of the First Amendment.

YAY: Help for fire victims

People who lost their homes and, in some cases, their livelihoods, in this summer’s Eastern Washington wildfires can now apply for low-interest, long-term loans from the federal Small Business Administration. Gov. Jay Inslee sought the SBA help after the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused to help. BOO to FEMA.

YAY: State worker raises

The Washington Federation of State Employees, the largest of the state’s many bargaining groups, ratified a contract that would raise their pay for the first time in six years. The other state’s unions have embraced similar deals. That’s good news for the workers, and for the South Sound economy. Of course, the Office of Financial Management has to deem the raises financially feasible and the Legislature has to fund them, which they both should do.

YAY: Local book stores

There are a growing number of thriving independent booksellers in downtown Olympia, which matches a nationwide trend. The number of locally-owned book stores across the United States has increased by 20 percent since the Great Recession, and they report year-over-year sales growth of 8 percent, better than the industry as a whole.

BOO: The working poor

The state’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.47. That’s good, but it’s still not enough for a full-time worker to afford a decent one-room apartment in Thurston County.