EDITORIAL: October Cheers & Jeers

Happy Halloween to everyone reading this Cheers & Jeers editorial on the day it publishes. And Happy The-Election-is-Almost-Over to everyone else.

We’re sticking to those well wishes in our first two shout-outs:

CHEERS to another successful Boo Bash: This annual downtown celebration of all things Halloween lets hundreds of children and families roam the streets in costume and collect treats from local Camas businesses without any fear of cars or people giving out homemade popcorn balls instead of chocolate. As Camas City Councilwoman Deanna Rusch pointed out at a recent League of Women Voters candidate forum, Boo Bash and other city-supported downtown Camas events provide free, safe entertainment for all families, regardless of socio-economic status.

CHEERS also go out to the Camas Youth Advisory Council (CYAC) for putting on another thoughtful candidate forum. This year’s event — the group’s 17th annual — was held Oct. 24 at Discovery High School and featured Camas candidates running for county, city and mayoral seats. The CYAC students asked the candidates questions about issues important to Camas youth. This student-run event is exactly what a candidate forum should be. During these often contentious election seasons, it’s nice to know these professional and well-prepared kids will someday rule our world.

That brings us to our first JEERS of October. This one goes out to the folks behind the campaign-finance complaint filed against the city of Camas on Oct. 7. Initiated by a Thurston County, Washington man known for filing hundreds of similar complaints against Democratic candidates and organizations, the complaint alleges city officials and managers seriously violated the state’s campaign finance laws by hiring a professional services firm to assist with public outreach on the city’s $78 million community-aquatics center construction bond. The complaint is obviously written by a person without any real ties to Camas. The filer calls the city “Chelan” instead of Camas; calls the city council “the county council;” and seemingly doesn’t understand that city leaders approved payments to this firm in May and June to help gather citizen input on the $78 community-aquatics center bond — exactly the type of public outreach the bond’s opponents have been calling for — months before voting to put the bond on the Nov. 5 ballot. It is apparent that this was just a shot in the dark, not a complaint based on actual facts. Of course, we’re talking about a man (the filer) who told the Columbian newspaper in January 2018 that he had filed 320 similar complaints against politicians and organizations over a two-year period, and had been involved in 20 lawsuits related to campaign-finance violation allegations. It would be interesting to know how many taxpayer dollars have gone into PDC staff time investigating these types of frivolous complaints and dealing with related lawsuits. We’re guessing that number might scare folks calling for more tax-dollar oversight more than any Halloween trick ever could.

Back to the treats, though. We have two sports-related CHEERS this month. The first one goes out the Washougal High slowpitch softball team, which recently clinched a berth to the 2A/3A state slowpitch tournament during its very first season. The Panthers will open state tournament play against Chief Sealth High tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 1) at the Gateway Sports Complex in Yakima, Washington. Post-Record sports reporter Wayne Havrelly said the Washougal girls’ Oct. 24 5-1 win over Kelso High was heartwarming because the girls had accomplished so much in their first season, but also because of their coach, John Carver, who turned to the crowd and thanked each and every one of the team’s supporters. Best of luck, Panthers. Our second sports-related CHEERS is for Camas High senior Bryce Leighton, who was recently ranked the nation’s No. 2 high school football kicker. Look for Leighton in the All-America football game on ESPN2 in early January 2020.

The last October JEERS is for the city of Camas’ renovation costs on the city’s new city hall annex building, which burgeoned from an expected $400,000 to nearly $1 million after rough estimates turned out to be about 60 percent too low. In the long run, the $2.6 million annex purchase and renovations will save the city several million dollars, as estimates of building a new city hall in downtown Camas have been quoted at more than $30 million, but any time a city cost jumps 60 percent, it is worth noting, so CHEERS to Camas City Councilwoman Melissa Smith for pressing the issue at a public meeting and pushing for an explanation.

Our final October CHEERS goes out to Villages Clark County, a nonprofit group that promotes a community approach to helping seniors and disabled adults be able to live safely and securely in their own homes for as long as possible. The group says it is basically, “neighbors helping neighbors stay neighbors.” CHEERS to neighbors lifting each other up. Let’s all hope for more of that in the post-election season.