Letters to the Editor for Dec. 25, 2012

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Vote ‘yes’ for Camas schools

As a longtime resident of Camas, I want to take just a minute to alert readers to a very important levy election that will occur in early February. During this holiday season and a busy New Year, it might be easy for residents to look past this election that is so important to our schools and their continued track record of excellence.

On Jan. 24, residents will already be receiving their mail-in ballots for the maintenance and operations and technology levies. I encourage voters to remember three key points as they prepare to mark those ballots. 1) These are not new taxes, but replacement levies for those expiring soon. 2) Taxpayers will be pleased to note that the overall tax amount for schools actually declines over the projected four years of the new levy due to diminishing bond amounts. 3) Most importantly, these levy dollars are essential if we want to continue many of the characteristics of a top-drawer school system. These include smaller class sizes, outstanding curriculum, and wonderful extra-curricular opportunities like band, choir, drama and athletics.

As a parent, grandparent and former employee of the Camas School District, I have been fortunate to see the impact and operation of a strong school system up close. Those of us who live in Camas know that such a “tradition of quality and caring” is something that didn’t emerge by chance. Please join me in ensuring that the track record of the Camas School District continues its excellent trajectory and vote “yes” for our schools.

Sandy Straub, Camas

Skamania needs open bidding on electronic network

Skamania County’s Central Services Department is the county government’s electronic nerve system. This “electronic data processing (EDP)” network includes county documents, telephone system, email and internet access. Its importance is huge.

Until recent years, it has been managed by personnel who are part of our local community. This seems to be changing.

Skamania County’s Board of Commissioners signed contracts, dated July 1, 2009, and Jan. 25, 2010, with an outside vendor for services pertaining to the county’s EDP system. Curiously, the vendor’s name is similar to that of one of the county commissioners. Washington law (RCW 39.04.270) seems unequivocal in that EDP contracts must be offered in a competitive bidding process because of their importance to the public. However, the contracts above were offered as small “public works” projects, exempt from competitive bidding.

If Skamania County’s “lame duck” commissioners are considering replacing existing Central Services personnel with a contractor, they would do well to heed the Washington State law that protects its citizens by mandating competitive bidding for EDP contracts. Let us ensure they wake up and smell the coffee on this one.

Even better? Let the newly elected commissioners make this important decision.

Ole Helgerson and John Hubner, Carson