Editorial: Respectful request

Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Jeff Pleasant

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

The Craig Chamber of Commerce’s stance on State of the County is exclusionary and removes local residents who don’t pay for a ticket from their rights to hear elected leaders speak on public affairs. The Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission would be serving their constituents’ interests by lobbying the Chamber to revise this policy.

The Craig Chamber of Commerce did a masterful job last year of landing Gov. John Hickenlooper as keynote speaker at its annual State of the County event.

The governor lived up to billing by providing an insightful and at times humorous speech before an audience at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

Booking noteworthy speakers appears to be a budding tradition for the Chamber: the keynote speaker at this year’s event, scheduled for Feb. 24 also at the Holiday Inn, is State Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, who represents the Eighth Senate District.

State of the County, which also includes speakers from a variety of local organizations and offices, is an engagement often overlooked in our community.

While it doesn’t offer the freewheeling fun of more notable events, it nonetheless provides taxpayers and business owners with good information from the people tasked with overseeing public affairs.

However, there’s a hitch with this informative and important gathering.

Last year, the Chamber unveiled a new policy regarding State of the County: anyone wishing to hear the speakers only was required to buy a ticket.

That means $40 for Chamber members and $50 for non-members. This eliminated a standing policy of allowing anyone who just wanted to hear the speakers to stand in the back and avoid paying for a seat and a meal.

At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be problematic, and if the event didn’t typically include a quorum of Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission members, the editorial board probably wouldn’t be raising an issue with it today.

But, given the council and commission will likely have 2/3s of its members in attendance, which could be interpreted as an open meeting, the editorial board believes the Chamber should revise its admittance policy.

The board isn’t asking the Chamber to give up free meals or a seat at State of the County, but simply let anyone interested be a fly on the wall and hear what their elected leaders have to say about public affairs.

What’s the harm in that? No one is losing money and it’s a token of goodwill to the community.

The editorial board respectfully requests the Chamber reconsider its admittance stance. We also encourage county commission and city council members lobby the Chamber to do the same.

Should the economic development organization stick with its stance, we’d ask commissioners and councilors make a statement to their taxpaying public by sitting out the event.

As we all know, these are lean economic times. Businesses are hurting, and people are hurting.

It’s not too much to ask that residents out there who may have fallen on hard economic times but still want to be politically engaged be allowed to attend without spending $40 or $50 they may not have.

This issue arose last year, and the Craig Daily Press didn’t get far in encouraging the Chamber or elected leaders to revise the admittance policy, which is truly a shame considering the governor’s speech.

The Chamber has advertised the event as “your opportunity to hear what your tax dollars and elected officials did in 2011 and what they expect in 2012.” In that regard, everyone’s goals seem to be aligned.

The real question is whether everyone — rich, poor or otherwise — will be afforded that opportunity.

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Comments

Sage_Sam 2 years, 2 months ago

Kudos to the editorial board for standing up and taking this position.

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Sam Relaford 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm curious why the CCC would have a problem with the community wanting to listen to what they have to say? Are the plotting something scandolous that most of the public would take exception too? Maybe they feel that they are so important that people should happily hand over money to be in the same room with them?? If I were on the board I would stand on a soap box and shout to the public on whats happening and where our community stands on issues. BTW... I wouldn't even think about joining anything political in this valley. NO THANK YOU!

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Cole White 2 years, 2 months ago

While at first glance the editorial board does make a good point, but upon further review however I find myself having to somewhat disagree with their argument.

Their position that city council members or county officials gathered in one place constitute a public quorum and a public meeting insults all of our intelligence. Does this mean IF the "official" number to constitute a quorum is at a basketball game then the school has to let people in for free out of the auspicious chance that they may talk city business? Or if fiver our more attend Diamonds and Spurs that the rotarycClub has to let people come and be wall flowers for free if they don't eat the dinner or dance? Or if two County Commissioners are at the Kiwanis play then they have to be let in for free?

This is a CCC event that costs them money to host at the Holiday Inn or any other venue they would choose to host it at. It takes time, money, and effort for them to plan. If they open it up to anyone without a cover charge then eventually no one will pay and then who will cover the cost? The Craig Daily Press? I put it to the Press to host their own State of the County and State of the City event and not charge for it. Let the Press put in the time and effort at their own expense. Lastly, everyone in the county and city has equal access to their elected officials. They can go to the city council meeting or the county commissioners meeting each week at no cost. They can hear their elected officials speak and get their concerns addressed in those public venues. I think if they want to attend the CCC sponsored event they should have to pay for it. Or, they can go get a free Craig Daily Press paper after the event and read what was said.

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unbelievable6060 2 years, 2 months ago

highway 1340 - VERY well said! Thank you to someone who is willing to look a little deeper than taking what they read or hear at face value.

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George Robertson 2 years, 2 months ago

Not to worry unbelievable, where the "Editorial Board" is concerned, we ALL carry several grains of salt.

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TiredofSSDD 2 years, 2 months ago

This part of the Sunshine Law -- The Colorado Sunshine Law generally requires that any state or local governmental body that meets to discuss public business or to take formal action do so in meetings that are open to the public. Under the law (§ 24-6-402, C.R.S.), "meeting" refers to any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, whether in person, by telephone, electronically, or by other means of communication. Electronic mail messages can be considered "meetings" under the statute. The statute does not apply to chance meetings or social occasions where public business is not the central purpose of the meeting.

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TiredofSSDD 2 years, 2 months ago

The director of the Chambers says this is actually the Annual Meeting of the Chamber, but it as grown to include other presentations from the City and County, and others. Does this mean that past dinners and presentations were in violation of the Sunshine Laws? There needs to be some clarification.

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