Jayne: Spurring community engagement still name of the game

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

 

Hey, where did it go?

Where is the CRC? Where is the plutonium-like fodder — both powerful and deadly — that it promised to provide?

A couple months ago, you see, when I agreed to become the Opinion editor of The Columbian upon the retirement of the estimable John Laird, I was counting on the CRC. I was needing the CRC.

For an opinion columnist, the Columbia River Crossing was like manna. It could sustain you through the most devastating of news droughts as you wander through the desert.

Desperate for a column or an editorial? The CRC was always there, always available, always ready to provide a commentary that was certain to rankle somebody on one side of the debate or the other.

Now it's gone, and still I soldier on.

After 13 years as Sports editor at this newspaper, I have moved on to a new challenge. I have endeavored to tackle issues more meaningful than the fun and games of sports, items more vital than wins and losses and pulled hamstrings.

That is what has led me to the Opinion section, after years as serving as the vacation fill-in for the department. For some time now, I have been the backup editorial writer for The Columbian, reveling in the opportunity to express the paper's stance on important issues and to play a small role in driving the crucial discussions in this community.

I look forward to performing those tasks on a full-time basis, and in so doing, I make but a few promises to our readers:

• I always will be willing to listen to you. We might not agree on the issue, but I will listen and will give due consideration to your opinion.

• I never will be beholden to one particular position. If a debate is worth having, then by definition there are valid points to be made on both sides of the issue.

• I will ensure that the Opinion page continues to reflect a wide range of thoughts and a wide range of backgrounds, particularly in our Letters to the Editor and our syndicated columnists.

That's because I believe the Opinion page is vitally important. I believe newspapers are vitally important.

Fighting the good fight

I recently ran into an old friend who mentioned that she was appalled at citizens' lack of engagement with -- and knowledge of -- what is going on in their communities. Smart, educated people, she said, were unaware of actions taken by the county commissioners or the city council, things that impacted the daily lives of residents.

That certainly is not unique to Clark County; it is an epidemic throughout this country. I have no delusions of changing that single-handedly, but I do have visions of helping The Columbian to fight the good fight of informing the public.

If the Clark County commissioners are afflicted by cronyism or if a mayoral candidate disingenuously runs on a platform of preventing tolls on a new bridge, we will call them on it.

Perhaps more important, we will be equally willing to offer praise when it is deserved. Goodness knows, there is an overabundance of condemnation and a distinct shortage of approval in this world.

For me, the overriding motivation for this move is to play some small role in improving our community. My wife and I have made this our home, and we want nothing more than to make it the best possible place to raise our children, now 15, 10 and 4 years old.

With that in mind, I recognize that there are many, many meaningful issues in this community besides the CRC. That there are many, many things that make this such a wonderful place to live.

So, we will talk about county politics and the state senate and the indefensible intersection between the two. We will discuss the waterfront development. We will examine the rejuvenation of downtown.

And, probably sooner rather than later, we will be calmly and rationally reviewing a new CRC. I can't wait.