I used to be a busy parent of young children and I remember the juggling act between working full-time, preparing meals, helping the kids with homework, driving them to sports practices, meeting with their teachers, taking them to the dentist, and on and on. I barely paid attention to anything outside that family- and work-focused world. Who had the time? Who had the energy?
My kids are grown now, but I think about those days whenever I cover a meeting and I hear citizens of all ages stating that this is the first time they have heard about (insert the name of issue here) and that (insert the name of the government agency, organization or company here) should have done a better job of notifying them sooner.
In the end, everyone’s frustrated. The organization in question knows it has done what is legally required — it put legal notices of the meetings into the newspaper (that many people don’t read anymore, by the way) and it may have even gone a step further and sent out press releases and posted information on its website. The parents feel like they barely have time to sleep, let alone spend time researching the latest development proposal for their neighborhood or changes in their company health plan.
Last Sunday, I happened to witness an exchange between parents concerned about proposed sports fields at the Old Woodway high school and the president of a commission funding that project. The commissioner stated that his organization held a public meeting about the project a year ago, with all the proper public notification, and the parents replied they never heard about those meetings.
The bottom line is, we all are responsible for solving this problem. Those who don’t pay attention — no matter how busy they may be — run the risk of not having a say in the decisions that ultimately could have a great impact on their lives. Those who make the decisions believe they are doing what they can to reach affected parties about proposals before they are approved, but it may not be enough.
I like to think that all of us at MLTnews are doing our part by reporting the news of our community and by providing readers with a place to discuss the issues that matter to them. I want to thank all of you who have sent in subscriptions in the last month to support our work. I am humbled and gratified by the response.
Have you subscribed yet? Any amount is much appreciated. It helps us pay for our writers, photographers, designers, sales people, web hosting and other expenses.
Until next time,
Teresa Wippel, Publisher