Sometimes I think I must have a sign on my back that says, “If you want to complain about anything in the whole wide world, talk to me.”
Of course, listening to people’s complaints is part and parcel of being an editor.
One must be willing to hear what they say and to provide them with a voice if the complaint seems warranted.
However, I sometimes can’t help but think that there are some people in this community who might be better served if they actually talked to the people who have the power to help them directly.
True, often it doesn’t help to speak to the powers that be. Often one would be better served to talk to the nearest brick wall. But one ought to at least try it before one flies into a rage and demands that the local paper print libel and half-truths based solely upon one’s own opinions.
We all experience frustration. Injustice is a component of daily life, and often we don’t have any recourse.
‘Just the facts, ma’am’
The thing is, though, that before you make a complaint about something, it is a good idea to have the actual facts behind the injustice you feel you have identified. Not only is this a part of good journalism, it is a part of effective living.
Certainly there are people in every community who walk around in a blind rage and spout off wild accusations whenever they disagree with someone.
Delaware County has its share of these people, and some of them reside in Grove.
A friend of mine recently told me that he takes “guilty pleasure” in logging onto the Grove Sun website and reading the blog comments that have been posted. He finds great entertainment in a few of our more zealous community “critics,” who post random bile, apparently without even actually reading the articles they find objectionable. Sometimes, as my friend and many others have noted, it is hard to tell if they are actually reacting to an article at all or simply spitting venom at any available target.
Which brings us to the problem of perception. If one has conspiracy in one’s eyes, it will appear wherever one looks.
There are a lot of shady dealings and societal ills in Delaware County — in this we are not different from any other county, parish, or province.
But there are lots of positive people attempting to make a real difference in our community as well, and they are equally as real as the graft and corruption.
I find it saddening that those people so often become targets for unjustified malice simply because they have taken on a task that few others were willing to tackle.
It is amazing to me how many times, for instance, I get phone calls from people with complaints about the Grove City Council or the city administration, and during the conversation discover that these over-enthusiastic complainers are making accusations of people they have never met regarding things they have never researched.
‘If you have a freak flag, don’t wave it’
Certainly, council members and administrative employees are not going to sit in council meetings waving flags that say, “I am corrupt.”
However, the real fact of the matter is that an outside auditor who works with countless cities in the state has even commented that our city has an exceedingly competent administrative staff. In fact, if I recall his words, they were something along the lines of, “best I’ve seen.”
As far as the City Council goes, almost without exception, everyone who has complained to me about our current council has never actually been to a council meeting or met a council member in person.
These meetings are open to the public. Anyone may attend. Usually there are fewer than eight people there.
When one of the council seats came up for election recently, only one person tossed his hat into the ring — the seat went uncontested.
It is very easy to sit in your parent’s basement and use a keyboard to type baseless insults and blame a “good-old boy network” for your own failure in life or to pick up a phone and shout hysterically at someone inconsequential about imaginary woes. It is not so easy to step up, do your research, and be an agent for positive change in your community, especially when you make yourself a target for blame by doing so.
The people who serve our community expend a great deal of time and effort trying to maintain and improve the City of Grove. They face a complex set of issues and challenges and they are all aware that they can never please everyone.
In my experience, they have always been open to explaining their policies and to listening to the citizens they represent.
Of course, railing venomously generally does not incite anyone to listen. On the other hand, speaking rationally and courteously usually helps to get the point across.