LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Public must be informed and involved

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Living in a democracy means more than just voting in elections, but elections are important.

More important is the development of an informed and involved citizenry who will stay informed and involved after the elections.

Walla Walla has a government that is as close to a real democracy as it may be possible to have.

No matter what the City Council does, citizens can still directly vote on many matters and they certainly can put their oars in the water on everything they know about.

There are also many advisory committees and commissions that consist of citizens that help with policy and investigate important questions. Sadly, being chosen to be a member of one of these seems to be a particularly opaque process.

Finally, there is the public media. Our public media must begin to investigate and not simply report. The media must also be scrupulous in its attempts at accuracy. One lesson I learned was to never give a telephone interview without recording it. If errors are made, the interviewee has no recourse.

In the report given in the U-B on Sept. 23, it seems my remarks concerning changes to the budget process were reported as being those of my competitor. Perhaps we both agree that the process needs earlier and more public involvement, but this is an issue that only I spoke about at the AAUW and Chamber debates.

I also sent material immediately after the interview showing I had written and spoken about this and had produced a chart showing I had serious questions about the late involvement of the public.

No matter, I agree that the late involvement of the public and the difficulty of understanding the budget are problems to address.

In summary, be informed, be involved, and after you vote, stay informed and involved, and ask questions.

Dick Swenson
Walla Walla

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