Opinion: ‘A little about a lot’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his latest thoughts on the impacts of the stay-at-home orders in place to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance reaches into his bag of thoughts, opinions and insights to share a couple timely observations

It’s been awhile since I shared with you “A little about a lot.’’ In fact, I use this theme so infrequently that I would expect only the most loyal of my readers to remember the history of this type of a column.

I have been blessed in my now 33-year career to have worked with a number of outstanding journalists and wonderful human beings. Many remain very close to me to this day. Unfortunately, several others have passed and now live on only in my heart, spirit and memory. One of those is Dave Jewett, who I worked with at The Columbian Newspaper in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Dave was an entertainment writer who also penned a regular column. He also wrote movie reviews, something I envied very much. I often gave him a hard time, stating that when he retired, I was going to leave the sports department and take over his job as the paper’s movie critic.

On occasion, more frequently than I, Dave would offer one of his “A little about a lot’’ columns. His opening paragraph would be just that, the words, “A little about a lot.’’ And then, he would go right into a series of quick-hitting news items that he lumped together to fill one column. Remember, back in the era when readers actually relied on news printed with ink on paper, a columnist such as David often had a finite amount of space with which to work with. If I remember correctly, the standard column, which would be placed on the far left column of a section cover, would be just over 21 inches in length if it didn’t jump to an inside page, which most editors preferred not to do.

As I’ve stated many times, I’m a monumental word waster and I live in the era of digital news so I am bound by no such length restrictions. So, I usually write more about fewer items than Dave normally included in his columns. Nevertheless, here’s “A little about a lot,’’ with all attribution and reverence given to Dave Jewett.

This call was a blessing

I’ve shared with you in this space recently that I have struggled from time to time in recent months with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the social unrest currently present in our country. Another thing I’ve struggled with throughout my career as a newspaper editor, is handling phone calls from readers, primarily when I’m on an assignment deadline or if I have a pile of work on my desk to get through.

A call can become even more difficult if it’s from a reader or member of the community unhappy with a decision I’ve made, something I’ve written or the inevitable mistake one makes when he or she processes as much content as I do. But, it’s a necessary and important part of my job so I listen to your voicemails and return your calls. And, sometimes, I am uplifted by doing so. Today was one of those days.

I got a voicemail from a woman who said she had experienced an injustice. She described herself as a 68-year-old black woman, a Vancouver resident, in somewhat failing health, but still obviously fully engaged, articulate and passionate. This woman had recently experienced what she described as an “injustice.’’ She didn’t claim it was racially motivated, but she has no explanation as to why she experienced what she did.

The lady didn’t want a news story done on her and her experience. She didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. She didn’t want to make anyone pay for the way she was treated. She just felt, very passionately, that someone should know about what happened to her because it caused her emotional pain and she said she didn’t want it to happen to anyone else. She didn’t say it to me, but I think more than anything else, she just wanted someone to listen to her.

For whatever reason, I was blessed to be that person. I will be honest with you, when I made the call to her this morning, I had 10 things on my plate that I needed to get done. It was my intention to get on and off the phone as quickly as I could, but my selfishness and insensitivity evaporated more and more as I listened to this passionate, hurting woman.

She touched on a number of topics, including what was going on in the area, region and our country. She didn’t have hate in her heart for anyone.

This is an unusual request, but I feel compelled to ask for your help. I am searching for an advocate for this woman and her situation. The incident was in the healthcare community. As I said, she is a senior citizen and it sounds like she doesn’t have an abundance of support. I don’t know what her needs are, but I am compelled to believe she needs some support. If you know of a person or organization I can refer this woman to, who may be able to provide some support or guidance, please email me at ken.v@clarkcountytoday.com

My only idea for making this world a better place is that we help when we are presented with an opportunity to do so.

CARES Act funding

Earlier today, we published Chris Brown’s latest in a series of stories about the distribution of federal CARES Act funding in the state of Washington. If you haven’t been following this story, you should be. It’s rather remarkable what the state has done, and hasn’t done, with the $3 billion it has received to help communities around Washington cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Clark County Council deserve credit for raising the issue first in a June 11 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Rep. Vicki Kraft followed up with a letter of her own. Both letters came after Clark County received $26.8 million as part of the initial distribution. Clark County officials pointed out that Spokane County, with a population of just 7.2 percent larger than ours, had received three times as much funding.

Despite the obvious injustice, and it’s ramifications on Clark County residents, the issue has largely gone unnoticed by the media in this area, if not throughout the region.

“I’m really surprised that a lot of people really don’t know about this and the local internet and local papers really haven’t done much in portraying this as an important story for our county,’’ Councilor Gary Medvigy said this week.

Medvigy wasn’t specific in his observation, but I’m quite confident he wasn’t including Clark County Today reporter Chris Brown in that blanket statement. I’m not going to include links to each of the stories Chris has written on this topic in the last three months, but he has been all over it.

The most significant of Chris’ efforts is that he has been persistent in getting officials from Washington’s Office of Financial Management to account for their actions and to state how they are going to address the inequity of the distribution of the funds.

It’s an important story folks. There should be an update next week.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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