As a city director for close to two decades, I tried to make sure that all the people in the city, county and bordering areas knew what we were about to vote on. What may have appeared to be unimportant at the moment could affect their lives with one vote. Many lived outside of the city and I would say, "Perhaps one day you will be affected by our vote?" This happened in the most recently annexed parts of our beautiful city. The people had a chance to respond.
We have a proposed bill, House Bill 1399, that would deny public notices, pending legislation, delinquent taxes, new laws and ordinances from being printed for all that care to see. I read, watch TV and share as much as I can with people; not everyone has time to go to government sites and sift through all that is being considered. People work, have health issues and must basically deal with their lives, so important life-altering laws and information can just "slip through."
In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev said, "We will are America without a firing a shot, we will destroy you from within." Another person said, "The best way to control people is to take their freedom a little at a time" or "inch by inch." A frog does not know it's being cooked if you turn up the flame slowly. Knowledge is your freedom to act before it is too late.
The representatives who support this bill are supposed to represent you. If you do not know, how can they vote for you without your input?
The argument or premise being used is that everyone and everything is going digital. In my opinion, that is partially true. It is just a nice option. Do not trust people who are trying to take away your right to know.
Another argument is it costs to print these very important notices. There are many other items that could be placed on the chopping block, not our freedom to know! Once you lose your freedom to know, you will not get your freedom back. Knowledge is power and they could be taking away your power, your freedom, inch by inch.
These representatives are supposed to represent you. How can they if you are not aware of what is going on until it's too late? They say information will be provided on a government website. The wording of many notifications can be difficult to interpret.
It is no different from the titles you view when you go to vote. Have you ever questioned the meaning but were too embarrassed to ask for clarification? It can be confusing.
There are those that may benefit from this government webpage. They check it for delinquent taxes to buy homes for pennies on the dollar, bring it up to code and then rent these homes. Owner-occupied homes create stability.
If these representatives decide to run for another term, it is my opinion that they should avoid visual clutter with those outdated low-tech signs, the traffic clutter by standing out by a street waving signs, and of course, save money rather than flood us with their qualifications on expensive large high-quality cards they snail mail to us. Perhaps they should swallow a bit of their own medicine and just place their campaign on a neat and tidy website.
Am I angry? No, I see the handwriting on the wall and I want to continue to shine sunlight on these proposed bills that could soon become law. Let's get out that strong disinfectant called "Sunshine and our right to know."
Please ask your representatives to vote no on HB 1399. Your representatives know what is about to become law. Shouldn't you have "The right to know?"
Call your representatives:
Rep. Richard McGrew, 501-623-2481 (never answered my call).
Rep. Les Warren, 501-623-4405 (never answered my call).
Sen. Alan Clark, 501-844-6800 (returned my call).
P.S. If there is an amendment to HB 1399, it most probably will be a mere delay of a move to soften the loss of your "Freedom to know." Freedom is priceless ...
Peggy Maruthur is the former city director for District 1.