Checks and Balances

From an anonymous commenter on Sunday, July 24, 2011, Standing Guard section of the blog: (bolding mine)

“Hmmm how come I never see any of the folks that are busy beating up our Town Officials and the jobs they do doing anything constructive….like getting involved in your community…helping some of the disadvantaged children or youth by volunteering your time and efforts for mentoring or homework labs, visiting some of our towns shut ins, helping with food drives, getting involved in some of the existing organizations that are trying to do good work or hey volunteering at Town Events to help out with some of the costs of putting on events. Its easy to look around and point the finger……how about stepping up to the plate and really doing some positive actions so there can be positive results.”

Dear commenter,

I prefer to stay out of the comments for the most part, but once again, I see the premise is wrong… and I was so hoping to be able to move away from the topic of accountability for a day or two, thinking surely by now, everyone gets it. Your comment leads me to believe otherwise.

So let’s get the premise right. Keeping an eye on the town process and those we’ve elected is not beating up on them, it IS a positive action, it IS getting involved in our community. Checks and balances are not an attack, they are a necessary safeguard. Town officials are supposed to answer to the citizens (please see the town organizational chart). They are liable to us. In electing/hiring them we accepted liability for them, because they hold our pursestrings and they hold a measure of our way of life in their hands. I don’t know about you, but I like to keep an eye on my wallet and find the protection of it kind of important. The person who sees no need to secure their valuables or lock the door to their life may as well open wide and put up a sign that says “Come on in, take what you want.” I assure you, some will be happy to oblige.

If someone in our town government does need to be called out, we will make no apologies for doing so. And saying it’s “easy to point fingers” tells me you have probably never spent time keeping watch yourself, reading documents, researching and organizing information related to what’s going on in myriad government programs and projects or enduring personal attacks that come as a result of doing so, as some here have. “Easy” isn’t exactly the word for it. Standing guard is quite a task, which citizens do for free. If those in the town’s employ can’t handle the scrutiny that keeps them in check for the good of the town and the individuals therein, then perhaps they should find another line of well-paid work (speaking of salaried employees, not the commissioners and Mayor) where the owner of that business doesn’t care what they do with the place and doesn’t have “the gall to ask pesky questions” or to expect “so much“.

So we defend Lake Park, our homes, what prosperity we have left and our way of life. We are watchmen; not aggressors and we’d also like to keep our town from making victims of us all. If we allow our freedom to be upended, we’re all in trouble. We’ll all become victims. And who helps who if everyone becomes needy?

Oh, and as for compassion…watching what our town officials are doing is compassionate, for the town and for the people, and it promotes everyone’s prosperity. Doing so does not preclude volunteering in other ways, and we would not suggest that, however, I’m not sure how our commenter draws the conclusion that because we are standing guard we can’t be caring for others. That’s absurd, and most likely just an attempt at misdirection. The two are not mutually exclusive. And how does our commenter know what all of us are doing with our time?  And who says we aren’t out visiting shut-ins or helping those less fortunate… how do you know? I dare say, you don’t. And how shall I say this: Is our volunteerism really your business?

Watching those in government is our business. Not only that, it’s our duty as citizens. We would be remiss in failing to do so. On the other hand, keeping account of private citizens’ activities is creepy (and as an aside, when such information is forwarded through town emails, it becomes an invasion of privacy, but that’s a story for another day.) And should the government ever gain the power to tell us (including you) what we must volunteer to do with our free time, beware! The powers to be will eventually come for you too.

At the onset, my plan here was to be a clearinghouse of information about life in Lake Park. I have asked repeatedly for readers to share news from the street where they live, and my hope is that eventually they will send us information and opportunities, be they service or town government-related or fun events we can all attend. Maybe you know someone in Lake Park who is doing great things. We want to hear about it. So dear commenter, I ask again,  please let us know about the volunteer opportunities you are aware of with specifics such as times, dates and contact information. I would love to post that for those who find those areas of participation suitable to their gifts, talents and interests.

I am also interested in information about the Lake Park community watch groups. If anyone has details, please share. We haven’t had a chance to contact the various groups, organizations and businesses in town for input yet, but all in good time. We’ve been a little busy. As information comes along and as I have time, I will post that as well.

Meanwhile, please keep watch on the street where you live and join us this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. as we continue to stand guard, this time at the budget workshop!