Where were the people?

Published 8:09 am Friday, April 9, 2010

As advocates of more transparent government and community leadership, we get a little frustrated when public officials make an effort to be open, only to be met by citizen apathy.

Leaders of Western Tidewater’s economic recovery task force heavily promoted a community briefing Tuesday night to bring citizens up to date on the closure of International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill and efforts to rebuild the region’s economy. Despite the topic of enormous magnitude, only 75 people showed up at the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center. Many of the 75 in attendance have direct involvement in the task force, so the number of simply interested observers was miniscule.

Organizers’ timing was poor, to be certain. Spring break is a bad week to have any community activity. Many families who aren’t traveling are home relaxing and enjoying a break from school and work.

Still, the poor turnout for the community briefing is disturbing. If the citizenry wants more open and responsive government and decision-making, it must be attentive and participatory when given the opportunity.