Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rural Residents Should Attend County Commission Meetings

We have all heard reasons why we should vote. For example, if you don’t vote, then you don’t have a right to complain when things in government don't go your way. The same goes for attending local public hearings.

Given that Ellis County now has county-wide zoning, it is increasingly important that rural residents attend both Zoning Board meetings and County Commission meetings. It is the best way to find out about changes in local government that could affect your family's health, property, and quality of life – assuming these things matter to you. It is also the best way to ensure that both elected and appointed officials act responsibly. The best way to keep them honest is to let them know they are being watched and their actions carefully monitored.

Unfortunately, too few of our citizens attend these meetings. I must admit I have been equally remiss in this regard until recently. Apathy and lack of public attention emboldens political corruption. This was quite apparent to me when I attended Monday's meeting of the County Commission.

Despite well-supported arguments by citizens requesting a temporary moratorium on wind energy applications, and a substantial petition from county residents, the motion by Perry Henman for such a moratorium failed to be seconded. The reasons given by Commissioners Berens and Pfannenstiel for not supporting this motion were essentially non-existent. "We don't need a moratorium because we have a zoning board and we have zoning regulations."

Never mind that the regulations are completely inadequate and do nothing to regulate wind energy development or protect the environment and the citizens. Never mind that David Yearout's recommendations were completely ignored, even though he was paid by the county to guide zoning. Never mind that we don’t have a comprehensive plan to guide development of any kind within the county, in line with the expectations of our state government. Never mind that the current zoning board is, by and large, completely unqualified and beset with glaring conflicts of interest. Never mind that they are leaving the county legally vulnerable to an expensive lawsuit.

These things don’t seem to matter to Berens and Pfannenstiel. No, they cast their lot with the 'windy' developers – Krista Gordon and the Kraus family – more than two years ago. Apparently, they have far too much to gain for themselves and their friends to heed any community concerns, no matter how valid. The smell of corruption is rank in Ellis County and these commissioners appear to be counting on local apathy to grant them a license to do as they please. It is time for all rural residents of Ellis county to rise up in indignation, start attending these meetings, and start reminding these officials that they were elected to act in the interest of all citizens, not just their political cronies.

J.P. Michaud
1189 180th Ave.

No comments: