Opinion

Got a Minute: Exercise your rights

The budget season is upon us as city and county commissions are preparing to make decisions on how best to spend tax dollars for the upcoming year.

Posted on 9/7/13

By Lee Coleman

Your tax dollars.

These decisions, by law, cannot be made behind closed doors in a smoke-filled room with a golf ball sized peep hole adorning said door.

All meetings held by the city and county commissioners are open to the public. Including those where budgets are discussed.

Formal public hearings will take place before the final approval of budgets but the meetings prior to those hearings is the place for taxpayers to hear what is going on with their money.

And to air any grievances about the usage.

In fact, every meeting of any autonomous government body is open to the public.

We the people have the right to attend every meeting.

There is protocol in place for citizens to speak openly about their issues to the boards but wouldn’t it be better to take some time out of your day to have your voice heard rather than discuss the issues in an informal setting and not get anything accomplished other than perhaps getting madder than you were before you arrived?

The commissions are responsible for tax money and should be held accountable by the people who exercised their right to vote and instilled their trust in the commissioners.

“If people don’t come to the meetings and let us know what they are upset about, how would we know?” asked county commissioner Rich Flanders. “We want people to come to the meetings and let is know what’s on their minds.”

Unfortunately, there will be those who will consider their presence an act of futility?

But is it really?

I think not.

Thousands upon thousands of great men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives so we, as Americans, can exercise our system of democracy and have a say without fear of retribution from our government.

We have the right to speak openly and freely to those we have entrusted with our greatest resources.

We have the right to hold those same people accountable for how they handle our resources.

But if we don’t get involved and truly take the time to understand what is going on, how clean will our slate of accountability really be?

As a journalist, I am responsible for reporting in a clean, fair and balanced fashion to provide the details from both sides of the fence and give my readers a chance to make decisions on their own about how they feel about a subject rather than suggesting how they should think or sensationalizing an issue, whether right, wrong or indifferent.

At the end of the day, exercise your rights.

If you don’t, there is nobody to blame but the person in the mirror.

Coleman is the editor of the Republican and can be contacted at republicannews@countrymedia.net.