Get involved now or don’t complain later

Managing Editor Gary DeVonWe have a representative government, at least that’s what they tell us. But in order to be properly represented we can’t just sit back and let things take their course without any input at all.

Sure on a national and even a state level, it is harder to be heard. It’s especially so if you don’t represent big money or a big, noisy political group. That’s why local politics are so much better – the local access to our city councils’ county, PUD and hospital commissioners, school boards, even our local rural fire and EMS commissioners. We enjoy high-paid lobbyist-type access to these local governments and yet, many still don’t take advantage of that access. Instead we’d rather complain that we didn’t know about this or that.

The reasons we hear for not going to meetings are many. From ‘we don’t have the time to go’ to ‘that’s why we elected them to take care of things.’ And in a way, they’re right, no one has time to attend every meeting. But it is up to us to educate ourselves on what’s going on so that when there is an issue that we really care about we can give our input. One of the best ways to get that education is through the newspaper. If that’s not your thing you can always call up your local representative and ask them to give you an update on what’s going on. If you know someone who does attend meetings, ask them.

Recently we encouraged people to attend one of the public hearings Oroville has been holding on the Critical Areas/Comprehensive Plan Amendment. The city leaders and Community Development Director Chris Banch have all but pleaded for some public input. So far it’s been crickets. They’re giving us one more chance with a one-hour workshop before their next meeting on Tuesday, June 18. The workshop starts at 6 p.m. and if you have property in the city, especially property in the floodplain or floodway, then it might be a good idea to educate yourself by checking out the draft plan at oroville-wa.com and then going to the workshop. The hearing on approval of the plan will follow – but your input could be valuable in crafting the final document.

We’ve talked a lot about this Oroville issue, but a couple of Tonasket issues are generating after-the-fact concern. The recent passage of an ordinance to turn part of south Tonasket Avenue, between Division and Third into a one-way street and the new Yard Sale Ordinance have met with cries of ‘We didn’t know this was happening.’ Well why not? It has been the subject of several G-T articles, as well legal notices. The city even printed a notice about the ordinances on the water bill.

At the time of this writing we don’t know whether the Tonasket Council Chambers will be full of after-the-fact complainers about the two new ordinances, but we wouldn’t bet against it. If it is, maybe they’ll change some minds, but wouldn’t it be nice to have more participation before the decision?

We’re not trying to be mean here, but it’s frustrating for those we chose to represent us. In most cases they value the input of the people they represent before acting on an issue. That doesn’t mean things will start going exactly as you wish just because you show up at the right meetings. We’ve done our share of arguing for this or that cause and lost, but at least you can say you tried. And come election time you can vote them out. Heck you can even run for office yourself, in fact there are a few vacant positions that weren’t filed for that are up for grabs during a special three-day filing period. Maybe it’s time to see if you can do better.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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