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Jail project prompts call for civic engagement

While it is perfectly all right for a newspaper to take sides, it is not all right to shut out the voice of the opposition. The BIAS of the Troy Messenger (est. 1800s) in favor of a new jail puts its editor, Stacy Graning, squarely and neatly in the pocket of Sheriff Russell Thomas.

Do not get me wrong; I like Sheriff Thomas. He performs very well a function which all of us need yet few of us envy. I both admire and respect him for his dedicated work. Additionally, I regularly praise Stacy Graning for rushing a daily newspaper to press. It is an enormous task and one that many small towns have all but abandoned. Nevertheless, biased reporting is creeping in, courtesy of the national norm. One-sided reporting cheats its readers out of information to which they are entitled. It is immoral to withhold information from the public that concerns the public. The nation as a whole is now going through the throes of this nightmare. We, the humble public, are now being thrashed with the consequences. It is a well-established tradition that it is a newspaper’s obligation to fairly inform its readers. It is and has been an integral part of the democratic process.

It is crystal clear to me that the folks favoring a new jail are getting their side of the proposal publicly displayed in The Messenger on a regular basis. Read the headlines. Hearing from the other side (the silent minority) who might actually be able to offer some practical constructive ideas and save all of us some money, is simply being ignored. This, dear reader, can ultimately cost you and me a whole lot of money. I can all but guarantee you that when it becomes a pocketbook issue some of you may actually “come to.”

Have we not all learned this lesson? I am guilty. You are guilty. We are all guilty of electing officials to do a job at which time we automatically turn our backs with a blind hope that everything will come out hunky dory. If you have not looked around lately, let me inform you that this country now finds itself in a financial quagmire from which it may not emerge without bone-crushing consequences. I challenge you to come to the commission meetings where you can hear a pin drop as, where in my opinion, your, as well as my, public officials are blithely rubber stamping the spending of YOUR money.

While this appears to be alright with you, gentle reader, it is not alright with me. Luckily I have so far been blessed with enough money to cover the potential for the wasting of my tax dollars. Hopefully you have been so as well.

Let me again attempt to remind you that collectively, we as dutiful, taxpaying citizens, supply the public buildings, their perpetual upkeep, the public autos, the public salaries, the public perks, the public monies that are doled out in lawsuits, the money used to defend those law suits and the local lawyers who profit either way: ad infinitum. And, as a clincher, the folks spending your money actually do not have a dog in the fight other than their political reputations and aspirations along with their personal connections. Do you have any personal connections? Computers, among other things, have made this world somewhat transparent, which should be downright scary to those in the public domain where sometimes a small title can equal a huge liability.

This, gentle reader, can be become extremely costly and burdensome as this beautiful pristine quiet community experiences unrestrained growth without the citizenry’s continuous oversight. How many of you have attended a county commission meeting at which proceedings involving expenditures are routinely approved? How many of you have ever studied the minutes that are not available until the next meeting at which time they are approved? In order to protect your best interests (i.e. your pocketbook) you ought to be there. This strangely irresponsible notion of mine is specifically designed to elicit from you some much-needed debate and to get you off your fanny.

I became personally involved in monitoring the progress and expenditures for the new jail only after an article printed on the front page of The Messenger contained obvious political overtones substantiating needs that were intentionally colored.

While I am not smart, I am not obtuse.

If you do not like politics, but at the same time don’t like high taxes, you need to bite the bullet and educate yourself: now. Civic participation is a whole lot more entertaining than your smartphone or the Internet will ever be. Become, gentle reader, involved in a real life, pocketbook situation. You will then have something meaningful to talk about. (Now there is a Facebook challenge Troy students?) Actually, for those of you older taxpayers who have children, it can be immensely educational for them to witness democracy in action on the local level. Better yet, take them to the courthouse where they may witness the best form of justice the world has ever known. Some courtrooms still give me the chills, honestly!

But not to worry, Ms. Graning, by printing one-sided articles, is obviously bent on spending your money for you. The sheriff has nothing to do with it. He told me so, himself.

I can easily foretell that I will soon be cast as a Pike County outlaw and curmudgeon by the political opposition headed by the sheriff. When holding a politician’s feet to the fire becomes a crime, let the headlines of The Messenger be the first to proclaim it.  Believe it or not, I am for community progress: carefully monitored by a fully aware, thoroughly educated and a dedicated responsible citizenry. All too often dispassionate onlookers end up having to reap, what others have haphazardly sown as they indiscriminately spent your money.

Now, you may go back to sleep, gentle reader. I will do my very best to look after you. As my solemn promise to you, I will gently awaken you when the construction dust has settled, that you may fully appreciate your new jail along with your new and ever increasing tax bill. I have always had a special place in my heart for the complete and total comfort of those retained in the jailhouse. Haven’t you?

Larry Wilke

Troy