Talk face-to-face with the decision makers

By The Curry Coastal Pilot March 30, 2012 09:32 pm

 

We’ve spotted an interesting trend: People find it easer to pen a letter to the editor about a specific issue rather than voice their opinion directly to their elected officials.

This was clearly the case in recent weeks regarding a proposed ban on smoking in areas of Brookings public parks. 

The new ordinance was initiated by the city’s Park and Recreation Commission and, after several public meetings, it was sent to the City Council for approval. The council addressed the issue in a public work session followed by a public hearing before putting their stamp of approval on it.

We can recall seeing two, maybe three, people at the public meetings to express their support or opposition to the ordinance. However, more than a dozen readers saw fit to write letters to the editor about the issue.

It made us wonder: If a smoking ban isn’t enough to get people to speak up at government meetings, what is?

The Pilot does its part to inform and inspire readers to attend meetings. We often publish stories about meetings, and important issues, in advance. We always post notices in the “Meetings” box on this page. This way readers will not only be informed, but can attend and voice their opinions before final decisions are made.

Public opinion can and often does sway a public entity’s decision. Unfortunately, and it’s a reoccurring trend in Curry County, by the time residents choose to attend a meeting and speak their mind, it’s too late.

To some officials’ credit, they  often accept public comment at the eleventh hour, but in many cases it is too late.

Judging by the number of letters to the editor, many residents do care about what our elected officials do. And we know that some elected officials read our letters section, but that’s not the same as taking the time and making the effort to talk face-to-face with elected officials at a public meeting. 

It’s easy to complain or comment after a decision has been made. Residents who really care need to be proactive and be involved in the decision-making process from the beginning.