September Cheers & Jeers: More collaboration, fewer childish outbursts

There’s a lot to celebrate this month, so we’re going to get the bad news out of the way first and then do a deep dive into the good stuff.

Our first JEERS of the month goes out to the heckler (or possibly hecklers) who decided to bring their personal beef with the city of Camas’ proposed community-aquatics center bond to the recent Camas State of the Community address.

A few minutes after Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell finished his address with a nod to the many positive steps district staff are taking to ensure the emotional-social wellbeing of Camas’ more than 7,000 students, Camas School Board president and event moderator Doug Quinn read the first of several questions community members had submitted on notecards.

As Camas Mayor Shannon Turk began her first answer, a man seated (or possibly standing) toward the back of the room shouted out, interrupting the mayor and causing Quinn to interject with a stern warning that outbursts would not be tolerated.

It’s a sad commentary on our community when the issue that provokes anger and outrage is not the fact that one in five Camas students have reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide — as Snell brought up during his own thoughtful State of the Community address — but rather a ballot measure that might cost the owner of a home worth half a million dollars an extra $40 a month.

We understand that there is pushback from many community members regarding the city’s decision to place a $78 million bond to build a community-aquatics center and improve several athletic fields in Camas, but verbally attacking the mayor is a pathetic way to show the “strength” of your argument.

It’s bad enough that we have to stomach petulant and self-serving outbursts from our nation’s president a few times a day  we don’t need to deal with the same childish behavior on a local level.

On a similar note, our first CHEERS goes to Quinn and Turk for gracefully handling those State of the Community outbursts. Quinn’s response was swift and his suggestion that the person gather his thoughts and present them to the mayor or city councilors after the address was more than fair treatment for someone who obviously couldn’t control his temper and probably should have been asked to leave the premises. Likewise, Turk remained composed after the two outbursts — someone also shouted “No!” when the mayor asked people to trust her — and countered unchecked aggression with graceful leadership.

The second September CHEERS is for Camas educator Amy Campbell, the state’s 2020 “Teacher of the Year.” A special education teacher at Helen Baller Elementary School, Campbell was recognized for her “collaborative nature” and for “working tirelessly to build a school community that welcomes all learners.”

The world needs more Amy Campbells right now. How great would it be if we lived in a society where qualities like collaboration and inclusiveness were the gold standard?

Speaking of collaborative efforts, our third September CHEERS goes out to the dozens of agencies, individuals and nonprofits that helped make the Sept. 5 groundbreaking of the Steigerwald Floodplain Restoration Project in Washougal, which is expected to have countless environmental and economic benefits, a possibility.

And that brings us to our final CHEERS of the month. This one is for Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who are collaborating with their mostly Democratic peers to prove the nation has more than just a semblance of checks and balances. The senators have backed formal impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in light of the president’s own admission that he asked a foreign government to investigate a political rival and the fact that Trump’s acting director of national intelligence has been accused of illegally withholding a credible and “urgent concern” whistleblower complaint from Congress to possibly protect the president’s own interests.

As Cantwell put it: “No one is above the law. We must safeguard our democracy and stop foreign interference in our elections.”

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