OPINION — Shame on those who planned (Friday) morning’s U.S. House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing at the Dixie Center. (It) was an example of government – on all levels – gone wrong. What a pity for those college students standing next to me who wanted to learn firsthand about federal and state hearings.
It was an exclusionary “public hearing” that was practically non-hearable by too many of the 500 plus citizens who tried to attend.
First, the meeting was held in a room with a stated maximum occupancy of less than 200. All except a select few were allowed in early, while the rest of us citizens stood waiting outside the closed doors for about 45 minutes.
At the last minute, when the doors were opened, it quickly became evident that lawmakers had absolutely no intention of letting all the public attend because almost 50 percent of the seats were already filled, so as many of us as possible jammed into the room’s sides, as newly elected Mayor Jon Pike smiled smugly from the stand. A smile says a thousand words, mayor.
Those who couldn’t squeeze into the room stood outside but, since most were seniors, soon left because they couldn’t stand much longer. I have Parkinson’s, stood waiting the 45 minutes outside the room, squeezed into the room and stood another 28 minutes until I thought my legs would lock and I’d fall. Then, I reluctantly left.
“Exclusionary, especially for the disabled,” I mumbled to myself.
Second, we all knew ahead of time that none of us would be able to speak, but we were hoping to at least hear what the lawmakers might say. It’s not too often that we get state and federal elected officials to hold any type of hearings “open to the public” here in St. George.
Unfortunately, the microphone system’s volume was so soft that those of us not even at the very back of the room could not clearly hear what was being said, nor was the stage high enough for us to see the speakers. The specific issues any of us wanted to hear about doesn’t really matter because few of us had the opportunity to hear much of anything.
Submitted by Candace Mesa, St. George
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