Letters to the Editor for June 21, 2018

Mayor’s resignation no reason to change form of Camas government

Congratulations to Mayor Scott Higgins for his service to the community. He will be missed, I’m sure, by the people he worked with and civic groups.

It is important to look at his statement that the city is in good hands with the council and administrative staff.

His departure should not be looked at as an opening to replace our current city management structure with the one that has been proposed. There are a lot of reasons not to change and if it is not broken, don’t fix it. Although, that is not a bad rationale.

The biggest reasons not to change to a city manager is that it just adds another level of management and support staff. Have no doubt that the change will add additional staff levels and reporting. Also, equating the former Clark County makeup as an example fails to recognize that for a group representing a large group of constituents, three members was just a foolish number as it lacked the necessary friction to force discussion.

The second reason not to do it is that it gives the council the excuse to agree to staff recommendations without doing the necessary due dillegnce on their own. I’m not knocking the individuals but that is the norm when you are asked to agree without skin in the game. You can always go back and blame the manager and staff.

You could do that today, but it is a weaker argument because the city administrator essentially is charged with ensuring the city meets legal and regulatory requirements and is not charged with setting direction which remains with the mayor and council.

Camas is different than Clark County and Vancouver and benefits from focusing on Camas needs. Camas has shown how it can work with Washougal to create agreements where both entities benefit from combining common services to the benefit of both commuities.

So, in my humble opinion, the task force that came up with a city manager concept compared apples to oranges and their recommendation should be discussed but ultimately discarded.

Mark Swenson, Camas

Camas councilors: do not let business leader ‘bully’ sway decision

I read with dismay, the Camas-Washougal Post-Record’s account of the June 4 council meeting where Ken Fisher and his Vancouver-based land-use attorney urged the Camas mayor and council to table plans to put the Form of Government Advisory Committee’s recommendations to Camas voters in November. It is staggering to read what Ken Fisher is quoted as saying at the meeting, which is difficult to intrepret as anything other than, “How dare you not have personally consulted me first. I’m better than lowly regular Camas residents and you owe me big time for moving my company here. Now do what I say and table this.” What the heck?

Do not be bullied by Ken Fisher into negating all the hard work put in by Nan Henrickson and her co-advisory committee members. I trust them to have Camas’ best interests at heart any day over Ken Fisher. Do not let that bully prevent voters from being able to take the Form of Government Advisory Committee’s recommendations into consideration at the ballot box in November. We will be paying attention and I don’t envy you having to deal with bullies like Fisher. He is a role model how how not to behave.

Aunna Elm, Camas

Use state funds as intended, or lose good teachers

Many people know that I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in support of Washougal Public Education. I co-chaired the bond campaign in 1999, to raise $51 million to remodel our high school, build a new middle school (Canyon Creek) and remodel three of our elementary schools (Gause, Hathaway and Cape Horn-Skye). It was the first bond to pass after five failed attempts in 20 years. Shortly thereafter I assembled a group of business leaders and was the co-founder and first president of the Washougal Schools Foundation. Then in 2000, I served as co-chair of the maintenance and operations levy for WSD. This was done when we had true community based campaigns that were run by citizens and not orchestrated by the district administration. I worked with Norm Danielson to secure a $180,000 donation to build Danielson Soccer Fields, and served as chair for over 10 years for the annual WSF Christmas Concert with the Trail Band (Rindy Ross & Marv Ross) and obtained corporate sponsorships each year. I’ve also served on the Vocational Advisory Committee and the CTE advisory to help maintain and promote quality professional & technical programs at the high school.

Recently I was approached by a number of teachers to speak before the Washougal School Board about the wonderful job our teachers are performing in the classroom, labs, shops, playing fields and concert venues. They truly are highly motivated, talented and conscientious professionals. And, I was glad to speak on their behalf. But when I went to the school board meeting on Tuesday night, I was denied the opportunity to speak because I was supposed to sign up in advance. Naturally, I was disappointed.

Unfortunately, our current superintendent, Mike Stromme, has failed to promote positive morale among our faculty in WSD. In fact, the morale is the lowest I’ve seen in the Washougal School District in the last 50 years. Mr. Stromme takes pleasure in demonstrating how he has saved the district money in the construction process of the new Jemtegaard Middle School and Columbia River Gorge Elementary. But, schools are not just bricks and mortar. It is the teachers, students and staff within the buildings that make them a positive environment for learning.

Sadly, the state has given WSD funds to provide salary increases for our teachers but our district is not using them as they should. And, WSD is one of the lowest paid districts in southwest Washington. Some districts are using these funds as intended to increase teacher salaries anywhere from to 10-12%. But not Mr. Stromme. He presented a plan to the Washougal School Board to increase salaries by just 1%. This is not acceptable. As an alumnus, patron, father of two WSD graduates, taxpayer, booster and community advocate, I am mad. This is pathetic and unacceptable. If we don’t use the state funds as they were intended and increase the teacher salaries — as other districts have done — then we are going to lose some of our best teachers to other districts.

I have worked hard over the last 25 years to help Washougal Public Education obtain quality buildings, scholarships and funding. My property taxes have gone up over 50%. Our family made a sizable donation toward the Washougal Schools Foundation last year for their scholarship endowment. And I’m now working with the class of 1968, to raise more funds for scholarships this year. Please support me in sending a message to the new superintendent that we value our teachers and believe they should be compensated as much as neighboring districts. Our new superintendent, Dr. Mary Templeton, has some major healing to perform to improve the morale of our district. We have quality buildings for our students — now it’s time to invest in human capital — which is our teachers, para-educators and classified employees.

Roger Daniels is a community volunteer. He has been previously recognized as C-W Chamber “Citizen of the Year” for his leadership in passing bonds & levies, helping to establish the Washougal Schools Foundation, former fire district commissioner that worked to create East County Fire & Rescue, and he chaired the Washington State Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Advisory Committee in 2006, which was influential in the establishment of Captain William Clark Park.

Roger D. Daniels, Washougal

McDevitt for Congress

When you decide whom to send to Washington, D.C. as your 3rd District Congress person, keep in mind the job you want done for you, your family, your city, state and country. That’s right, five different constituency riding on your vote. From where I sit, only one candidate has the real life experience, the cumulative education, to handle the job, calmly and professionally. David McDevitt is a lawyer and successful high-tech businessman, taught seven years at university level, an army veteran who has lived in Vancouver for years. Unlike the hidden incumbent, he knows how to meet people, offer clear and cogent solutions to real world problems because that has been his way of life.

Peter Brown, Vancouver

Thanks to teacher

I have been a student in the Camas School District for nearly 10 years and throughout the years my experience with the teacher has been mostly one sided. I would go to school, be taught something, and do homework. This year though my experience with one of my teachers has really helped improve my understanding and desire to learn the content. This teacher has helped me and students understand the content more than anyone has done before. They don’t fall short by giving you a lecture and making you take notes. They instead teach the lesson in front of the class. helping us through the process of learning. She has been the best teacher I have ever had. She has been a pleasure to have in my academics. Thank you, Lori Leighton.

Zachary Gregson, Camas