Editorial: Respectful request | CraigDailyPress.com

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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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