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Our Opinion: Meet every week

February 13, 2001

One of the things small newspapers excel at is covering local government. You can say the reason for that is because small papers don't have the large populations that bring a broad array of happenings.

Usually, the larger the newspaper, the less attention paid to local government, sacrificing it to state and/or federal government issues. That's understandable because large papers have a large audience that might not be interested in local issues outside their neck of the woods. Zoned editions make up for this at bigger papers.

At this small- to medium-sized newspaper, however, we like to think that our coverage of local government bodies is second to none, and we believe our readers have come to expect a certain amount of regular coverage. That is, Imperial Valley residents like to know what their elected officials are doing.

We do, too.

We think that local government should be as public as possible with as much public participation as possible.


In keeping with that, we are opposed to any change that would have the county Board of Supervisors reduce it meetings to every two weeks from weekly.

There are, of course, reasons for such a stand.

First, supervisors are making good salaries and we enjoy knowing they're working hard and regularly at earning them.

Second, people in these parts have become accustomed to supervisor meetings every Tuesday, and that's a habit that we think people will find hard to break. While still candidates, each supervisor knew what was expected. They should live up to that workload.

Third, while we understand county staff concerns that some county employees might be working full-time just to progress meeting agendas, we bet that's what they were hired to do.

Fourth, the reason board packets come in three-inch binders is because of the voluminous material that must be reviewed prior to each meeting. It's a rarity when the binders are not full. We fear by meeting every other week, we're all going to suffer from information overload with the added problem of not being able to go through all of it in such a way as to fully grasp the issues; and we like following government issues.

Fifth, we're concerned, with the short deadlines for many of the state and federal grants local governments seem to desperately depend on, that we'll miss some funding opportunities or special meetings will have to be called to meet the short deadlines. We also are concerned that two weeks is a long time to wait to air some of the important grievances and issues that come before the supervisors.

Finally, we are aware that a deadline exists for submitting action items for each board meeting. If the county executive office is working full-time to ready board agendas, perhaps there is a need for better planning at the department level.

We think better planning at the county would allow the public to have its weekly supervisors meeting while reducing the perceived inefficiencies — which by the way, are also at the county.

Those men making up the county Board of Supervisors are well-known to the public. The public turns out to see them on a weekly basis because the public knows when and where it can find the supervisors on a regular basis. The public has come to expect that, has the right to expect that, and we support it.

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