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Don't forget the most important factor
by Rick Grams


March 02, 2005

It seems like the past two weeks have generated a flurry of topics.  Highlights range from wolf protection, to tree protection, to location protection (for the state capital), and most recently school teacher qualifications and standards.

All of these are very important issues, but what if we are all missing the bigger picture?  We now live in a world of globalization, a change that began just after WWII when the Japanese started selling electronics here in the United States.  This change has become accelerated since the advent of the home computer and increasing use of the Internet.  However, even these topics are simply by-products of change.

At some point as we look around the community, state, country, and the world we will have to accept that change is going to happen.  Why?  Well, somebody (or some entity) eventually comes along that is bigger, has more influence, and definitely has more money than the influences of the past.  More often than we like, it happens without common knowledge of the community ­ a fact that makes us all feel cheated.  We feel especially cheated when we look at our lives and wonder "Where has all the time gone?"

One method of balancing out these events is through the use of electronic government practices (e-government).  We all deserve to have a voice. How can we take time to have a voice while we meet our work and family obligations?  The average person in Ketchikan is not a lobbyist paid to address our elected officials with a sponsor's agenda.  Those of us who are busy living our lives don't have the luxury of hanging around government offices throughout the week (Don't get me wrong, lobbyists do have positive roles in speaking to our leaders).

E-government is not an all-in-one answer either.  However, e-government could provide the ability to create online surveys for local residents to answer if they wish.  We have a large amount of people who use the computer and the Internet for daily purposes - a statement I base on the amount of activity in the comments and classifieds section in Sitnews.  I'm sure most elected officials would appreciate having statistics to back up their rational for key votes that have an impact within the community.

E-government could also generate electronic mailing lists to automatically provide public information to anyone who subscribes to that list.  Public information, for example would be meeting agendas, special meetings, voting statistics, budget processes, public ceremonies and more.

 What I am leading toward is a comment about communication.  We as a community need to employ better tools for communicating in both directions.  In our Democratic society, it serves little purpose to be an expert in anything if a subject is not being actively communicated in both directions.  Like it or not the world is smaller. Just like in business, the factors of decision-making require pro-active communication if we are going to protect our interests. At the very least constituent feedback may influence any change so it does the least amount of damage towards those interests.

These are just some thoughts and observations of my own.  I have a great time living in Ketchikan and I'd like an opportunity to help keep it that way.

Rick Grams
Ketchikan, AK


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.



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