Editorial: On the outside looking in | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: On the outside looking in

The Craig Chamber of Commerce recently made a decision to close the State of the County 2011 event to those who couldn't afford a ticket.

In past years, residents who didn't have the $40 or $50 for a ticket could attend the annual event, which often includes a state of the county and state of the city address, in a limited capacity.

These addresses are public information and important matters to many in the community, some of whom can't afford the Chamber's admission prices.

This year, on top of the county and city addresses, Gov. John Hickenlooper attended and gave a speech about the current status and future of the state.

As one Editorial Board member put it, keeping the public away from that speech and other information presented was "hogwash."

Granted, the information presented by Hickenlooper and the city and county was shared through other avenues. However, it wasn't available in real time, and there is no substitute for hearing it firsthand.

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Moreover, the Chamber's exclusionary decision reinforces the belief, the Editorial Board contends, that there exists a clique among our county's most prominent and elite.

A look around the room at the Chamber's event revealed many attendees were already among the area's most informed, as required by their positions in the community.

The information at State of the County isn't just for them, but for everyone, including the blue-collar residents of our area and those struggling to make ends meet.

The board wonders if such a sentiment and such a feeling of entitlement had anything to do with the Chamber board's decision to limit access in the first place.

The decision, as one Editorial Board member said, feels as though the Chamber is drawing a line in the sand. It feels as if the organization is stating that if you're not in, you're out.

Such a notion is greatly disappointing and has no place in what's supposed to be open and accessible government.

The State of the County event also raised issues regarding open meeting laws.

At this event, which featured public business, was a quorum of Moffat County Commissioners and Craig City Council members.

We think such discussion of public policy through the given speeches by these leaders in a meeting not open to the public is not only a violation of open meeting laws, but simply unethical.

We wonder why the city and county decided to participate in this event knowing they could be in violation. Perhaps our governments aren't as familiar with these laws as they should be.

We also wonder if this event is a microcosm of other governmental business being conducted in our county.

If our elected officials don't think the Chamber's event should have been open to the public, what other meetings are they involved in that they don't think we should be allowed to participate in?

The simple solution for this is for the city and county to apologize for their participation in the event, and for the Chamber to change its admission policy.

Our government needs to remain open to everyone and the event that took place in our community a week ago was nowhere near that.

Welcome, hoopsters

This weekend, Moffat County will host a youth basketball tournament for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls from around the Western Slope and Wyoming. This event promises to bring more than 500 players, coaches, staff and family to our community.

Businesses should work as hard as they can to accommodate our guests as to earn a return visit someday from these out-of-towners. Please welcome and thank them for choosing our community as the venue for this event.

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Our View

The Craig Chamber of Commerce’s recent State of the County 2011 event has raised questions about what’s right and fair regarding open meetings and our government. The Editorial Board contends the Chamber should reverse its attendance decision and allow residents who can’t afford a ticket to hear from their elected officials about public affairs.