Letter to the editor: Decisions are not made by those who show up
I read your column (“Decisions are made by those who show up”) and felt compelled to comment. I agree it is easy for one to sit in the comfort of one’s living room, read online chatter, and comment in a similar fashion. It takes more effort to attend meetings where voices can be heard. In response to this, let me provide my own personal example, though a sad one.
After expressing concerns over our public utility’s plan to begin spending millions of dollars to install “smart meters” throughout the city, I began contacting elected officials to express my concern, a concern that is actually expressed by many nationwide and even worldwide, including the World Health Organization. Evidently, my concerns were heard by our elected officials, who then informed me of a special time being set aside for residents to bring their concerns to the common council in person at the start of a meeting.
I attended the meeting with many others sharing like concerns. We each had the opportunity to express our opinions and present the idea of an opt-out policy to avoid having such an item placed on our own personal property. It appeared to me that we were being given a chance to present what we believed in front of our elected officials, where they would listen and then discuss these legitimate concerns. What happened immediately after turned my opinion about how our local government is run.
Very shortly after hearing our concerns, and without responding to them, a representative of the utility company presented his side. He informed the council that the plans were already made, no opt-out policy would be put in place, and no further discussion would be held. This was then immediately followed by the entire council, except for one or two individuals, agreeing wholeheartedly with the utility company’s spokesperson.
Those who had just spent significant time between preparing their thoughts and then presenting them were essentially told, “We really do not care what you think. We have already made the decision, and we are not going to change our plans.”
Decisions are not made by those who show up. Decisions are made by a few key decision makers, and the rest of us are placated with the appearance of caring by those who have already decided.