Our View: Taking a look back at 2017
December 29, 2017
Many people will raise their glasses when the new year hits as they sing "Auld Lang Syne," or at least the words they can remember.
Dig through those words and you'll find a song about remembering the people that have passed through our lives.
Plenty of folks use New Year's Day as a chance to take stock of the past year, look back and assess the good and the bad.
That's the intention of this editorial: to remember moments of the past year and revisit the opinions of the The Union Editorial Board. Instead of focusing on events only, we're looking at the consensus of the board that developed because of those occurrences.
Love it or hate it, 2017 saw a level of citizen participation that's been lacking. We wrote about two instances that touch on that theme: the Local Agency Formation Commission's move to reduce Nevada City's sphere of influence and a visit here by Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state.
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"Regardless of your opinion about LAFCo's proposal to reduce Nevada City's sphere of influence, you've got to admit — showing up in force at government meetings gets results," we wrote in February.
Our take: People showing up and getting involved is essential to government functioning.
"Isn't this how we want our government to work?" we wrote. "Its agendas, available for public review, give everyone a chance to see what's planned for future meetings. If there's something that doesn't pass the smell test, you show up."
Padilla touched on that same theme — citizen involvement — when he spoke in September to Nevada Union High School students, telling them 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote.
"As Padilla noted, 18- to 25-year-olds are this state's biggest voting bloc. Imagine if this age group voted as religiously as retirees. What shape would our county, state and nation take if that occurred? Do they want to find out?"
The answer to that, then and now, is "yes."
In June we wrote about the Nevada Irrigation District's baby steps toward more transparency. A panel that previously required an open records request to get an audio recording of its meetings, the NID board began inching toward more openness.
"NID's on the right track, and it deserves a pat on the back," we wrote. "That pat, though, comes with a little push."
The board has come a fair distance. Video and audio of meetings now are available at NID's website.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors also showed wisdom in its decision to open the final meetings of the community advisory group, a citizen's panel formed to craft recommendations for a new grow ordinance.
The board initially planned to close those meetings to the public, though that changed after county counsel took another look at the law at the urging of The Union.
After that decision we wrote: "To ensure this process remains smooth is to keep the windows and doors open. That way everyone knows exactly what's happening with an issue that has the potential to affect us all. It's just the right thing to do."
And it still is.
It may be a dirty word to those on the far fringes of either political aisle, but compromise — diplomacy and statesmanship — is an essential component of our government.
Two examples of the editorial board's advocacy of compromise came out of a March town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa and the more recent movement toward agreement on both sides of the cannabis issue.
Just last week we opined on the positive move both pot supporters and opponents have taken to change their positions, realizing nobody is going to get everything they want.
"Stances like these are how our community will reach an end to the ordinance-writing process that, while not making one group or another happy, will provide rules that everyone can live with," we wrote.
This community, made of eclectic residents who wildly differ on their politics, must do the same when it comes to government at all levels.
Plenty of folks shouted their disapproval of LaMalfa during a March town hall here when they should have listened.
"How about not shouting at each other in 'us versus them' arguments or casting the 'other side' as an evil enemy?" we wrote. "How about first focusing on where we agree and come together, as opposed to pointless polarization that pulls us farther apart?"
How about we do that and more in 2018?
The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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