Sunday, July 1, 2007

EDITORIAL: Why We Need Local News Media

Let's face it folks: Wilmer doesn't count for much in the grand plans for Dallas County and the Metroplex. We're relegated in the local news to coverage of disastrous events and scandalous public conduct. Community news may get some attention in the big newspapers, but we have to compete with Lancaster, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, for the one day a week these southern sector communities are featured in the local press. Consequently, any in-depth coverage is highly unlikely and investigative reporting is mostly non-existent.. Our purpose in starting a local news media outlet is primarily to promote awareness and community involvement. Our secondary purpose is to provide a continuous stream of information about our community that other larger news services couldn't otherwise afford to cover. With a truly local media outlet, we can shed light upon our community, we can "speak truth to power", and we can actively participate in the process of self governance - or not as you choose! Without the news media, our choices are completely limited.

Having relocated to Wilmer in 2005, it's been quite an adjustment dealing with the day-to-day interactions with city government here as opposed to the relatively well-tuned bureaucracies in Dallas. In thirty-three years living in the Dallas Metroplex, dealings with City Hall and requesting city services has never required more than a phone call (or two). Here in Wilmer it is much more time and cost effective to visit the City Administration in person than to attempt to resolve anything over the telephone. Our public officials seem dedicated to withholding information, operating in secret, and generally not complying with statutes and regulations which guarantee the appropriate functions of government. Basic information is restricted or not available - just ask "City Hall" for a directory of departments and employees and publicly funded telephone numbers - or a zoning and boundary map - or the city charter - or a book of codified ordinances - or minutes from City Council meetings - or the fiscal-year-to-date financial statement. One city official stated that all the information we've previously requested would become available if yours truly would run for election to the City Council. Preposterous!

Check out the Dallas Morning News archives and see what they are reporting about Wilmer. Once you've eliminated all the "Wilmer-Hutchins ISD" stories, you'll find one disaster story on the bus fire, a few stories on the industrial development here, and the rest are scandals about our city officials. Wilmer is a community of people that live and work here - unfortunately our community needs are not represented by our public officials, who seem most interested in serving the interests of big business and corporate development and expanding the size, scope and influence of our city government, while ignoring the voters and citizens they represent. If ever there was a need for the white-hot spotlight of the press, it is here in our little town of Wilmer. We choose to view the situation with our city government as one of "statutory non-compliance", although our readers might opt for simpler more inflammatory words like "unlawful", "illegal", or perhaps "criminal" (to quote a few of our local citizens). We'll be keeping the spotlight bright and hot. Hopefully, we can ensure that our community is not stifled and demoralized by our local government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Aldrich:
Having sat on this council for two years, nothing surprises me anymore. We also tried to get the media involved only to have it turn into a media circus. Points of fact tend to get miss printed and the truth often gets lost. Good luck in trying to bring Wilmer's misfortune to the media's attention.

Former Mayor(Wilmer) Root