Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

March 28, 2014

Public forums must have participation

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Public officials can have public forums all day, every day, but if the public doesn’t come, it will make no difference.

The Metcalfe County School System’s Local Planning Committee hosted a public forum Thursday night to get input on the future of the district’s school buildings. Not a single citizen outside of those on the committee showed to give input.

Chris Huffman, director of pupil personnel for Metcalfe Schools, told Daily Times reporter Gina Kinslow the lack of public community input is not uncommon.

Metcalfe County is not the only place where citizens rarely take advantage of the variety of ways in which they have to give public officials their thoughts on a variety of topics.

There is a significant number of elections in 2014, with area primaries slated for May 20. Typically, in nonpresidential election years, voter turnout is lower. The most important elections, though, are local elections. If history holds, then locally elected officials will be chosen by a small number of the voter-eligible population. That is not good for local democracy.

It is almost certain that despite not participating in how public agencies make decisions, citizens will spend time in barber shops, at restaurants and seated around kitchen tables complaining about those decisions. If the public isn’t going to participate, though, there is no room to complain.

Also, the argument that a person was not informed about the public meeting is not an excuse.

Every day this newspaper is published, there is a list titled “Looking Ahead” that includes nearly every public meeting in the area. Be informed and be involved.