Wallowa County needs to seize opportunity to lobby legislatorsThere is an old saying in politics that goes like this: "The country is run by the people who show up."
That is advice that is worth bearing in mind as the Oregon Legislature wrestles with the task of establishing new priorities in the wake of a record budget deficit.
Believe it or not, ordinary citizens can have a profound influence on decisions that will affect Oregon for many years to come. The citizens who will have the most influence, of course, are the ones who show up.
The citizens of eastern Oregon are at a disadvantage because of the distances involved. It requires a considerable commitment of time and energy to drive 360 miles to Salem to testify in a legislative hearing or lobby a senator or representative.
There is another way, thanks to the marvels of telecommunications and some organizational efforts on the part of Vicki Rosgen and Amy Johnson of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce, who have put together twice a month telephonic conferences with state senator David Nelson and state representative Greg Smith. These sessions, which last about an hour, are held the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the chamber's office, located at 936 W. North Street.
Sadly, at the most recent conference last week only six persons showed up. That is a pretty poor showing from a community with so many issues that need attention - schools, health care, social services, land use, and wolves, to name a few. Not showing up is essentially giving politicians a pass to do what they please rather than hold them accountable for working toward the best interests of the people they were elected to represent.
Surely the people of Wallowa County can do better than that. Conferences start at 5:15 p.m. Participants are asked to be in place with their issues by 5 p.m. Be there or be square. R.S.