February 2016

Top-heavy government

By Galen Larson

Our economic-minded county commissioners are concerned about spending monies to keep us informed via legal notices in the Journal newspaper. Dictatorships do not like informed constituents. But there is a great need to make it as easy as possible for people who care to know what is going on.

A recent study published in, yes, a newspaper (USA Today) said that 84 percent of U.S. households own a computer, and 73 percent have a computer with a broadband connection to the Internet. The article said this varies greatly across the United States. In college towns and big urban areas, more people have Internet access. But that means 16 percent of households do not own a computer, and I’ll bet that percentage is much higher in this area. So if the commissioners want to stop publishing notices in the paper and expect our citizens to stay informed by looking things up online, that means many of them (including myself) will be left out.

I actually wish there were more, not fewer, things published in our legal notices. For instance, I saw no notice published regarding the $1,000 in tax monies so generously given by our county last year to the Ken Ivory Welfare Club, aka the American Lands Council.

The commissioners and other county officials are trying to argue that the Journal is not a local paper even though it provides 12 local jobs – not even counting the people that deliver it to our doorsteps. This borders on ignorance or outright deception.

Now, if the commissioners are really concerned about over-spending, may I make a suggestion? Why could not two of them resign from their $50,000-ayear positions? By my math, that would save us $100,000 a year. We would lose nothing by this measure, as they think and vote alike anyway the vast majority of the time. $100,000 is a large sum in anyone’s mind (except maybe Donald Trump’s) and we would certainly have enough to pay for legal notices in the newspaper.

My suggestion about having just one commissioner is, of course, tongue-in- cheek. I realize state law says that a county of our size and population must have three commissioners. But, as was stated by a school-board member in a recent election, we are a very poor county and cannot take on more burdensome expenses. Using that philosophy, maybe we could sneak by with one commissioner if the county administrator and the county clerk/ recorder joined in the voting. That would still give us a group of three to make important decisions. I just hope that this new group would not adopt our informal county motto, “It cannot be done.” One thing about that motto – you’re never wrong.

There is a great divide between ignorance and a closed mind. Ignorance can be overcome through education, but a closed mind, never.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.