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‘Editorials’ Category

  1. Getting Out of the Shade

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    March 26, 2012 by wcobserver

    Political culture is a curious thing. It always begs the question, “why can’t every- body be like me.” What seems so clear, so obvious to one person can seem so incredibly wrong-headed to the other guy. Democracy breeds ideological diversity. But still, why do we need a law that insists government business take place out in the open, accessible to all. Why do we need Sunshine laws and Freedom of Information statues? Can’t everybody see the advantage of open government? Last week was Sunshine Week. It was created by journalists but is also celebrated by civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know and open government. The idea of free access to information rests on the belief that people who are empowered will play a more active role in their government at all levels. And a democracy with more citizen participation leads to better lives and stronger communities for us all. For decades the leadership in West Fork has not made open, transparent government a high priority. The town has probably had more Freedom of Information Act com- plaints than Greenland, Farmington, Elkins, Prairie Grove, Lincoln and Winslow. There is a current investigation underway. …

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  2. Try Something Different

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    March 15, 2012 by wcobserver

    On Tuesday, March 13, the elected representatives of the citizens of West Fork will gather to discuss an issue that, on its surface, concerns a couple of acres of real estate in an upscale neighborhood on a picturesque avenue in the south part of town. Without trying to sound too dramatic here, the discussion will reflect a question that currently arises in a national debate about the role of government in balancing individual rights with collective well-being. Several months ago, a property owner began the process of changing his home’s designation from a residential to commercial in order to legally engage in several types of commercial activity. The Planning Commission, the job of which is to insure that land use is consistent with established zoning districts and long range plans, determined that a conditional use for his businesses was fine but his request to rezone the entire parcel was inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood and his application was denied. The property owner appealed to the City Council who overturned the decision of the Planning Commission. They were swayed by the argument that he “had a right” to do what he pleased on his property, as well as reaping …

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  3. Rendered Speechless

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    February 24, 2012 by wcobserver

    Faithful readers of the editorials that ap- pear in this space are probably prepared for the usual arm-waving, bug-eyed rant that we spew forth when the West Fork City Council unleashes some action we judge to be worthy of ridicule. Not this time. This time, we are rendered utterly speechless by the council’s mind-boggling vote to override a judicious decision of the Planning Commission and create a two- acre, single parcel commercial zone in the midst of a residential district to accommodate the owner (who is chairman of the planning commission), because he “Has A Right” and wants a bigger tax deduction. There are few things more harmful to the character and livability a city than spot zoning, not to mention the council’s decision is an invitation to litigation. And there are fewer city councils anywhere who would so wistfully abandon any semblance of prudence. But, representative government being what it is, the decision by the council is the will of the citizens of West Fork. The council’s shortsighted irresponsibility has opened a can of worms. The ramifications of that St. Valentine’s Day massacre of common sense will undoubtedly be the topic of many future news articles and scathing editorial …

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  4. Neglecting Enforcement Breeds Trouble

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    February 13, 2012 by wcobserver

    As far as we are aware, none of the eight West Fork council members has ever publicly expressed any interest — much less support — for the idea of having an independent Code Enforcement Officer. They seem content with “doing it the way they’ve always done it.” That is, they’re content to relying on the police to enforce the non-traffic and non-criminal violations of city law, even though the chief has stated his dissatisfaction with that arrangement. It seems curious that a group of eight elected officials could be so harmonious in their disregard for the municipal code. Appointing an enforcement officer hasn’t been a serious consideration for the council even though problems arising from lack of enforcement keep begging for attention. In the past weeks and months, code violations involving neglected property have twice come before the city council. The planning commission has been dealing with issues resulting from lack of enforcement regarding zoning, conditional use and businesses licenses. Failure to enforce the code uniformly and consistently will undoubtedly lead to more citizen discontent, neighbor-versus-neighbor-ill-will and possibly legal action. Why the council refuses to address this glaring issue is anybody’s guess. From the cynical perspective (we like to think …

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  5. We’ve Always Done It That Way (Part 10)

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    February 8, 2012 by wcobserver

    West Fork news item: Mayor Hime informed the Council that by moving a full- time employee from the Water Department the Street Department without prior approval of the Water Commission or City Council, Michael “Butch” Bartholomew has broken the law and the budgets will need to be corrected. Wearing a lot of hats may draw praise from some people, it but can sometimes lead to what social psychologists call “role conflict.” We’ve all experienced it to some ex- tent when we find ourselves trying to occupy two incompatible roles at the same time. It often takes the form of a conflict between the expectations of performing one’s family role and the expectations of a career role; demands of work vs. demands of the job, for example. Role conflict may lead to situations of social awkwardness and frustration causing heightened anxiety. Or it can take on a more ominous character and drift into situations that can lead to ethical and even legal problems. Job-related role conflict is not uncommon. Many people have experienced conflicting demands of their job resulting from hazy job descriptions, blurred lines of authority or “too many bosses.” Welcome to West Fork. The city’s organizational structure resembles a …

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  6. Occupy Doing the Right Thing

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    January 20, 2012 by wcobserver

    The reason the Occupy Movement will not just blow over and fade into the on- slaught of election year political rhetoric is simple. Americans, for all their diversity, for all their wrangling and ranting, share one basic understanding: fairness. Social movements in this country follow much the same pattern regardless of the cause. They are often sparked by a seem- ingly insignificant event like who gets a seat on the bus, stopping a troop train or a police raid on a bar. For some reason, the “story has legs,” spreads, resonates with people and becomes part of the social con- versation. People debate and argue, offer analogies and give reasons supporting one point of view or the other, until the issue becomes so prominent in our national conversation that it can’t be ignored by the moral and political leadership. We’ve seen it happen with civil rights, the war in Southeast Asia, gender and sexual orientation inequality. After defining the dilemma and wrestling with the possible outcomes, the Ameri- can people often boil it down to “that just doesn’t seem fair.” The Occupy Movement poked its head up only a few month ago when a few hundred assorted activists, hippies, malcontents …

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  7. More Than Just a Transaction​

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    November 24, 2011 by wcobserver

    We admit it, the Observer is a little rag-tag, fly-by-the-seat-of- your-pants, mom-n-popenterprise that epitomizes the “small” in small business. And we’re proud of it. Perhaps that’s why we are such advocates of doing as much business with local merchants as possible. And at this time of year, when holiday shopping begins in earnest, we want to remind readers why we encourage them to think before they run to the big box chain stores.

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