August Cheers & Jeers

As much as we might love the long days, swimming adventures, camping trips and backyard barbecues that summer brings, the seasonal shift from summer to fall has its own magic with its cooler weather, the joy of drinking apple cider while roaming a pumpkin patch and the new school year’s promise of possibility.

So, while some of you might want to give a Jeers to the end of summertime fun, we’ll stay positive and throw our first Cheers of this Cheers & Jeers column to the upcoming seasonal shift and the magic of autumn. 

And, while we’re on the subject of summer’s end, let’s give a Cheers to the willingness of Camas School District’s new superintendent, Camas High principal and Camas athletic director to jump feet first into the polarizing issue of racism during Camas athletic events. In our Aug. 11 Post-Record, we told you about CSD Superintendent John Anzalone’s plan to “have a fresh set of eyes” on Camas’ athletics departments.

“We are not going to crucify anybody, because these are kids, but we will still hold people accountable,” Anzalone told The Post-Record in early August, just a few weeks after moving to Washington from Nevada and stepping into his new position. “We want to make sure (visiting student-athletes) feel welcome and build trust, which will take some time.”

Anzalone said he is counting on his new AD, Stephen Baranowski, as well as the new Camas High School principal, Kelly O’Rourke, to help him bring a new approach to allegations of racism — or sexism, anti-LGBTQ behavior and other forms of harassment or bullying — during athletic events. 

Last week, Baranoswki held an all-coaches meeting at Camas High School and told the Camas coaches he expects them to work directly with their student-athletes to make sure the youth understand this type of behavior will not be tolerated and that — according to state rules — the game will actually end and an investigation into racist slurs and other similar behavior will begin immediately. Baranowski said he expects Camas student-athletes to play with “HEART” — honor, excellence, accountability, respect and trust. 

“We will be working with coaches and athletes to make sure everybody feels included in our programs, that every athlete is seen and served – and to make sure everybody we’re playing against feels they are welcomed,” Baranowski told the Post-Record in early August. 

Cheers to that. Camas obviously has a lot of work to do when it comes to repairing its relationships with other teams — especially teams that might have more student-athletes of color — but Anzalone’s leadership seems headed in the right direction. 

Our third Cheers is to the Port of Camas-Washougal for bringing more electric vehicle charging stations to East Clark County. For anyone — including this newspaper’s editor — who has ever relied on charging stations to get their all-electric vehicle from Point A to Point B in the Camas-Washougal area knows how impossible recharging has been. At one point in time, a few EV owners in the Camas area actually had a group text to alert each other when we saw an opening at the EV charger next to the Camas library, which was then the only public EV charger in all of Camas-Washougal. 

Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that our planet is “firmly on track toward an unlivable world” and said our nations’ leaders must take drastic steps to reduce carbon emissions over the next few years if we are to avoid the very worst climate disasters. Among the IPCC’s recommended solutions: “a rapid shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy such as increasingly cheap solar and wind power (and) the electrification of transport.”

President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which Democratic leaders in the House and Senate passed earlier this month with zero support from Republican politicians, gives a big boost to the future of EVs and our nation’s efforts to lower its greenhouse emissions, and Camas-Washougal must be better prepared to accommodate those vehicles and provide EV charging stations for EV drivers who live and work in the area as well as the visitors and tourists who can help Camas-Washougal’s small businesses continue to thrive. 

So: Cheers to the Port’s new charging stations. Cheers to our federal Democratic officials who came together to pass the IRA and Cheers to seeing more “Made in the USA” EVs on our roads in the near future. 

In that same vein, our first Jeers goes out to those who have fought so hard against — and who continue to fight against — implementing the necessary changes climate scientists have been telling us decades that we must make on an individual and societal level to prevent future generations from experiencing the horrors of an “unlivable world” destroyed by climate change. 

Polls show voters consistently say they cannot trust politicians who collect big donations from fossil fuel companies, but we wonder if voters in this area understand who is collecting the bulk of these pro-oil, anti-Earth contributions — Do they understand that more than 80% of the contributions from fossil fuel companies (around $500 million) have gone to Republican candidates during the past three decades? Or that these same right-wing politicians have gone on to vote against the interests of our planet, people, wildlife and future generations in favor of Big Oil’s massive profit margins

Do Republican voters know that the officials they’ve elected are currency, as National Public Radio put it this week, orchestrating a “misinformation campaign” to distract from the benefits of the Biden administration’s renewable energy and climate policies? 

We’ve said it a million times on this Opinion page, but the fact remains: we all – no matter our political, religious, socioeconomic positions — have to come together to prevent the complete destruction of our Earth and to make certain our children and their children will not be facing devastating floods, water shortages, heat waves and other climate change-fueled “natural” disasters thanks to our inability to look past our differences and fight for a common cause.