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Parts of editorial were offensive

This letter is in response to the Albert Lea Tribune’s Sept. 28 Opinion editorial “Get involved, if you want a voice.” I wonder if this is the opinion of the entire staff of our community paper, because it seems to contradict the goal of trying to get more people involved in local government and school board decisions. I believe we all have the same goals of moving our community and educational system forward to a better place than it is now. Our problem seems to be that we have different ideas of how to get there and are not open to an honest dialogue of how everyone will be affected by these decisions.

The very first sentence of this editorial is offensive. It says “Who are these people who come out of the woodwork and pretend to have any weight when it comes to community decisions?” Aren’t we all affected by any community decision, thus giving each of us a right to have our voice heard? Wouldn’t you also think that it would be instinctive of a good newspaper person to ask or interview these individuals to find out a little bit about them and why they feel so strongly about a particular issue? You may find out they are a veteran who believes they served their country to give every American taxpayer a voice in their future. They may be a retired citizen on a fixed income who is concerned about how they are going to pay higher service fees and taxes. They may be a small business owner facing higher taxes, fees and possible assessments for projects proposed near their business and want a say in the matter. Or maybe it is the parents of a young family who works numerous jobs to try to give their family a better life and is concerned about their children’s education and how they are going to find the money to pay for it all.

The Tribune editorial suggests that you get involved to prove your commitment to the community and they list a variety of options. I commend anyone who has the desire and time to commit to those various activities, but not everyone’s job and family life allows them to get involved. They may barely be able to find the time to attend a meeting and voice their concern about an issue that is important to them, and if they make that commitment they deserve to be treated with respect and have their questions answered.

Who is a mover and shaker? Is that moniker determined by a title you might have, how much money you purport to have, the house you live in? What entitles anyone to be a part of this elite group that the Tribune says we need to make a connection with to prove we clearly care about our community and have a voice in it?

Selfless people are those who are not pretentious, show respect, compassion and listen to other people and their views.

 

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea