My mother and many of her relatives were teachers and several of the newer generation family relatives followed their parents into the education field.
While I did not pursue a career in the education, I have always followed with much interest news about the many issues and situations that teachers have to cope with. So it was that I read with great interest the story in the Post-Record about the open house meeting at the Camas library May 23. In fact, reading that article twice to make sure that I correctly understood the information.
That May 23 meeting, which was hosted by State Sen. Ann Rivers and State Rep. Brandon Vick, was mainly attended by teachers and education field employees, and at the meeting, there understandably was some “grumbling” about the meeting being scheduled for that Saturday, the first day of the three day Memorial Day weekend.
I can understand the frustration about the meeting being scheduled for that Saturday, but I do think that Rivers did provide a logical reason for scheduling the meeting for that Saturday; that reason being that there was a possibility that the State Legislature would be voting on the new state budget before the next Saturday (May 30), and she and Vick wanted to meet with the Camas area residents before the Legislature might vote on the new budget (which the Legislature did not do).
I need to note here that both Rivers and Vick had previously made other personal plans for the three day holiday weekend, but both of them changed their plans so that they could host the meeting, which they regarded as important to hold before the Legislature might vote on the new budget, and because of that reason, I commend them for scheduling the meeting for when they did.
As readers probably know, Rivers and Vick represent the 18th Legislative District, the district that most Camas area residents live in. The other elected representative for the 18th District is Liz Pike, a Camas area resident. I didn’t attend that May 23 meeting, but I have been able to determine that Pike was not at that meeting.
So why was Pike not at that important meeting? Seems that she chose instead to attend a Saturday Memorial Day Weekend event at the Fern Prairie Cemetery that was taking place at the same time that the meeting at the library was happening.
Well, maybe it was nice of her to go to that event at the cemetery. But by attending the event at the Fern Prairie Cemetery, was she able to have any good, serious discussions with a significant number of 18th District residents about matters and/or issues of concern? I’m thinking that the people attending the event at the Fern Prairie Cemetery were probably much more interested in the special program taking place at the cemetery than having an opportunity to maybe meet and discuss matters with Pike, so I’m having a hard time seeing the logical reason why she felt it necessary for her to be at the cemetery event instead of being at the meeting at the library where it was anticipated that there would be a sizable group of teachers and education employees attending, residents and voters that were there solely for the opportunity to meet with their elected 18th District representatives to discuss the state school funding issue. That makes me think that Pike should have done the right thing and attended that meeting at the library instead of doing the nice thing and attending the program at the Fern Prairie Cemetery, and I’m betting that there’s a lot of other people that are thinking the same as I do about that.
It is well known that Pike put considerable time and effort into working at preventing light rail from being built into Clark County, and in doing so, contributed to killing the building of a badly needed new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River between Vancouver and Portland. That light rail line that she was so opposed to would not have been built into the legislative district that she represents, but that open house meeting at the Camas library on May 23 was taking place in her legislative district, and it was a meeting specifically set up to discuss a very important matter.
So, what is the real reason why Pike did not attend that May 23 meeting at the Camas library? The people that work in the education field have a right to know why she did not attend that meeting. And so does every resident of the 18th legislative district.
We know that she has participated in several other open house meetings in the past, with many of those meetings set up to discuss less important matters than the discussion subject that was the main reason for that May 23 meeting. If she had a solid and legitimate reason for not attending that May 23rd meeting at the library, she should have made it a point to let the public know what that reason was.
In closing, might the real reason why she did not attend that meeting at the Camas library is because about two years ago, she had angered many teachers by telling them that if they weren’t happy with the pay they were receiving, they should get a different job. That’s causing me to wonder if because of that stupid remark she made so many months ago, is she still avoiding having to again meet with the teachers, and therefore, on May 23, used a decidedly lame excuse that it supposedly was “more necessary” for her to attend the event at the Fern Prairie Cemetery instead of attending the meeting at the Camas library.
I’m betting that many, if not all, of the teachers that attended that May 23 meeting clearly remember that stupid remark she had made so long ago, and I’m thinking that Pike probably knows that she is not “in good standing” with area teachers and therefore, to avoid having to face them again, “decided it was necessary” that she attend the event at the cemetery. And, I’m also betting that those teachers will probably still be remembering her stupid remark years from now whenever her name appears on ballots of future elections.
As I said earlier, I think that instead of doing the “nice thing” that she did by going to the program at the cemetery, she should have done the “right thing” and attended the meeting at the library. The hard bottom line to this subject is that sadly, we may never learn the real reason why she did not attend that meeting, instead that reason becoming just another one of those “many little political secrets” that exists in today’s political arena. And, it’s too late for her to try to do more “damage control.”
Jim Fisher is a Camas resident.