PHIL WIELAND: Don't blame officials if you choose to be uninformed

2013-10-11T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Don't blame officials if you choose to be uninformedBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

This supposedly is the age of mass communication, but there are 10 billion channels and nothing on in some people's brains.

Twice recently I heard people complain they knew nothing about a government action that impacted their lives. Told the issue had been covered extensively in the newspaper, one person said, "I haven't read a newspaper in 15 years."

This is a recurring comment, minus the specific reference to 15 years, from people professing ignorance of actions by their local officials. They whine the government is sneaking something through without the public knowing even if it's been front page news for months.

I try not to take these comments personally, even when they say it in a way that sounds like boasting, like they kicked booze or drug habits. A Paul Simon song says, "I get all the news I need on the weather report." If that's you, then you really are a bonehead.

If you don't go to local government meetings to keep current on what's happening in your town, and it's a safe bet you don't, then you should at least read about it online either by calling up the minutes of government meetings or reading the newspaper online.

Some, including The Times, at least for now, are still free for those who don't want to spend the $2 a week for a home delivery. If that's too much, local radio stations will read you stories from the local paper for their newscasts.

As a solution, the guy who hadn't read a newspaper in 15 years said the town should send an email notification of any changes in the town ordinances that could affect him. At least he didn't ask that a councilman come to his house to explain it personally.

The other case involved a rezoning. The city is only required to notify property owners within 300 feet of the property being rezoned. That's a pretty pathetic demonstration of the democratic process. In the case in question, only a couple of people were notified.

Legal ads in the newspapers also are required, but I've never actually met anyone who reads the legal ads looking for possible changes in zoning or annexations or whatever. Unless you can disguise it as a garage sale ad, only the truly paranoid are likely to see it.

Of course, the rezoning was covered in several news stories the residents also didn't read, which means I'm not very sympathetic. Besides, they lived a mile or more from the property, and the impact on them would be minimal at best.

Anyone who doesn't have 15 minutes to leaf through the paper or read it online needs to turn off "Honey Booboo" or "Duck Dynasty." It won't be long before even email notices won't be enough. They'll want everything transmitted telepathically.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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