Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh, Just Ignore the People

Fran Alexander's regular column in the Northwest Arkansas Times is always worth reading, and today's is no exception. Her topic is the proposed Northwest Arkansas Regional Mobility Authority. I get the impression that she doesn't much care for it, and she doesn't care much for her newspaper's editorial last Sunday.

You might have missed the editorial, but essentially it argued that the City Council should have joined the Authority immediately and not bothered to ask their constituents thought about the idea. "Gee, we really have to think about that," smirked the editors. "There are other times when elected officials need to exercise leadership and consider whether their action (or inaction, in this case ) is going to ultimately change the outcome. If the outcome will be the same, what’s the point of delaying a decision?"

Maybe because the people, ordinary citizens, deserve to be heard? Nonsense says the Northwest Arkansas Times, as if time and appearances were of the essence. "Elected officials can get addicted to deferring action so that they can seek the consent of 'The People.' That’s a comfortable place. But citizens elect representatives to make decisions because 'The People' don’t always have the time or the inclination to become thoroughly versed on every issue. Citizens are too busy trying to make money to pay the taxes that fund government," say the editors.

And what was the big hurry? Why should Fayetteville have rushed up approval without any public hearing? What would be lost? Apparently only a chance for the editors to criticize a couple of city council members who wanted to know what their constituents thought about it and to depict one of them in a cartoon.

Fran Alexander examines the proposal in some detail then concludes, "Cutting to the chase, we all know Fayetteville will have to be represented on this board now that the authority exists. But treating Lucas and Jordan as spoilers is condescending. Wanting to know what’s in it for Fayetteville if traffic is diverted away from town is hardly faulty economic logic on the part of these aldermen. Jordan was even depicted in a political cartoon as a hayseed for not wanting to vote immediately. Well, gee, I’d sure rather have a hesitant questioner (hayseed he’s not, by the way) looking out for the town than slick bond daddies dancing for decades with our money, but maybe that’s just me. It may be painful, but critical thinking requires that we question authority — whether authority likes it or not."

Democracy is slower than dictatorship, but that is one of its advantages. If you are interested in participating and having your opinion considered, Aldermen Shirley Lucas and Lioneld Jordan are holding their regular monthly open-to-all Ward 4 meeting tonight at 7 p. m. in Room 111 of City Hall. The Regional Mobility Authority is the first thing on the agenda, and this will be the only public hearing before the vote Tuesday night and your only chance to ask questions or be heard. Not that the editors of the Northwest Arkansas Times think you care, have anything worthwhile to say, or even deserve that chance.

There will be no public forum on the Government Channel discussing this topic, but you can watch Mayor Coody's press conference about bottled water.

No comments:

Post a Comment