Hold their feet to the fire

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OPINION -

Over the past two years, deco­rum at a Hopewell City Coun­cil meet­ing had been re­duced to the point where its pic­ture was on com­mu­nity bulletin boards around the city un­der the words, “Have you seen me?”

With the seat­ing of the new coun­cil in the Won­der City, we hope those pic­tures can come down and we can wit­ness a joy­ous fam­ily re­union. The op­tics we saw at Wed­nes­day’s or­ga­ni­za­tional meet­ing all seemed to point to an era of good feel­ing, but the true test will come in the next few meet­ings when this coun­cil’s new-car smell wears off.

To a per­son, each coun­cilor vowed to not re­peat what the pre­vi­ous incarnation of coun­cil did, De­ci­sions and de­bates would be fact-based with all emo­tions checked at the door. Dis­cus­sions could be lively and dif­fer­ences could be aired — but not aired along­side dirty laun­dry and snippy com­ments. In short, the new City Coun­cil would adopt the Aretha Franklin hit “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” as its new an­them.

We cer­tainly hope they hold true to their word, be­cause right now, that is all we have on which to judge them.

But, good cit­i­zens of Hopewell, do not use “ac­count­abil­ity” and “self-polic­ing” in­ter­change­ably. Sure, we can count on those on the dais to hold their truths to be self-ev­i­dent, but their ul­ti­mate ac­count­abil­ity is in your hands.

Make them prove to you that pet­ti­ness, snark­i­ness and all those other bad -nesses re­ally are in the past. Let them hear your voices and opin­ions on top­ics, good and bad. Turn out for coun­cil meet­ings and watch them in ac­tion. Make this new coun­cil ear­nits fu­ture­crit­i­cism, con­struc­tive and oth­er­wise.

We as your news­pa­per of record take our role se­ri­ously as the main in­for­ma­tion ve­hi­cle for our com­mu­nity, but even the best-writ­ten ar­ti­cles and strongly worded ed­i­to­ri­als can­not hold a can­dle to wit­ness­ing some­thing first-hand.

Just re­cently, we saw what can hap­pen when peo­ple do not make their voices heard. Hopewell was be­ing asked to spend be­tween $1 mil­lion and $1.1 mil­lion on a piece of self-ad­mit­ted eye­sore prop­erty, but it took first a tie vote, fol­lowed by a dou­ble-switch in votes to keep that from hap­pen­ing. Why? Be­cause when that coun­cil gave you a chance to say to their faces what you were post­ing all over so­cial me­dia and ar­gu­ing about at the cor­ner eatery, you were drowned out by the chirp­ing of crick­ets.

The New Year is a time of res­o­lu­tions, and this shiny new City Coun­cil has made its chief res­o­lu­tion to earn back the trust that seemed to be lack­ing in the pre­vi­ous time. You need to match their res­o­lu­tion with your own — re­solve to hold them to their word. Ac­count­abil­ity is an ev­ery­day is­sue, not one just saved for ev­ery fourth Novem­ber.

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