Here’s a vote for public comment
July 24, 2014
OPINION By DANIEL BLACKBURN
As a general rule, there’s nothing in New Times’ Shredder column that’s worth reading, much less commenting on. Also, as a general rule, I don’t resort to name-calling in my writing.
But to outlaws like me, those rules are made to be broken.
This week, the newspaper’s Bible-toting editor, Ryan Miller, who hides behind a skirt of anonymity to pen the column, launched a diatribe about two local people who — gasp! — take the time to go to public meetings and comment on the goings-on.
He used adolescent pseudonyms, “Schmulie Schmacker” and “Schmeff Schmedwards” to describe Julie Tacker and Jeff Edwards, a pair of citizens who make the effort to question authority at every turn.
Truth be known, if there were more people like Tacker and Edwards, there would be one heck of a lot less corruption in this county. Yes, folks, it’s true — there are way too many crooks, embezzlers, thieves, and authoritarians running this county, and if you don’t believe me, just ask anyone in non-county law enforcement.
If Shredder would use his potentially-powerful clout to do something other than belittle folks who try to make a difference in the quality of governance, it might help make a dent in the culture of malfeasance that permeates local government.
Too many public officials show disdain and impatience for speakers during public comment periods, mistakenly thinking, perhaps, that their own brand of hot air has more intrinsic value than that of members of the public.
But one would think that the media — no shortage of hot air there — would pull in the claws and be supportive of taxpayers who want to discuss their business with their elected officials.
Not petty putz Miller, who apparently gets his gospel from the likes of supes Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill, each of whom would gladly submarine public comment completely. (I use these terms to describe Miller not because I want to, but because in the interest of full disclosure, I must.)
It’s part of the climate around this county, helped to fester by the likes of Miller and The Other Paper, that citizens are excoriated for speaking out, while elected officials are tolerated, often praised, for crapping on public comment.
I doubt that Ryan Miller has ever spent a moment or two listening to Tacker or Edwards at the microphone doing their public duty. He’s more mouth than ear.
But I’ll go on the record here and say that I’ll take an hour of Tacker and Edwards before I’ll sit still for a minute of Supervisor Hill’s bumbling, bleary-eyed monologues — or read another word of Shredder’s silly efforts.
Ah, Steve Moss, why did you leave us?
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