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Editorial

A basic view on political records

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Interesting New York Times editorial on Sept. 12 about how quickly people can turn on politicians.

Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, delivered a $61 million desert shooting range to his home state of Nevada a year ago. At that time the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne La Pierre, declared Reid "A true champion of the Second Amendment..." Reid, the Times stated, brandished his boyhood .22 rifle and chimed in, "This weapon is my friend."

A year later, that isn't good enough. The NRA has announced its "non-endorsement" of Reid's re-election bid, citing as the reason his support of the confirmation of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

"When word circulated that the N.R.A. was considering a positive endorsement of the senator for his many favors, zealous members rebelled," the Times said. "They far preferred Mr. Reid's Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, the Tea Party insurgent who apparently won their loyalty, talking darkly of frustrated voters weighing 'Second Amendment remedies' to unresponsive government." Angle apparently called to "take Harry Reid out" but clarified she only meant that politically.

Ignore for a moment the question left hanging (How can anyone spend $61 million on a shooting range?) and consider the situation. Reid has been elected to four six-year terms as a senator from his native state of Nevada. He's won praise and respect from Republicans and in 2004 was unanimously elected Senate Democratic Leader. He has been an environmental advocate in a state where mining is an important industry. His record includes securing more funding for additional police in Nevada, as well as funding for a shooting range.

But what he's done over his political career doesn't seem to matter. It's not good enough now, at least not for the one-issue NRA. The mood has changed. People are scared, frustrated, angry.

And not just in Nevada.

There's no dispute that Whistler council and municipal hall over promised and under delivered to Cheakamus Crossing owners on the asphalt plant. It started with making a commitment to move the plant by June 1, before the facts and logistics were presented. It continued with the announcement that the current proposal was a done deal just days before an open house was scheduled to discuss various options.

The frustrations grew when opponents were encouraged to get their own legal opinion, did, and were then told there was privileged information they didn't have. The phrase, "if you only knew" has been bandied about by previous councils. It's maddening, it's patronizing, it doesn't help shed any light on a particular situation.

Still, it's true that a government at any level is going to be privy to information that is not available to the public. The question is should that information be available to the public. Undoubtedly there are times it should be and governments don't agree. Just as certainly, there are times when governments, even local governments, need to maintain that privilege.

We, the public, don't know which case we are facing with the privileged information contained in the legal opinion on the asphalt plant. So we have to look at the people we elected less than two years ago and decide whether we were wrong about them then or do we still trust them to work in the best interests of the whole community.

The asphalt plant is a frustrating situation for everyone, including the people we elected to make decisions. For reasons we're not entirely clear on it's no longer about what should be done but what could be done. According to senior staff and probably a majority of council, we crossed that line some time ago.

Some people don't accept that. That's fine. If they want to continue to look for better solutions, more power to them.

But strong disagreement with politicians on one issue doesn't mean everything they have done or will do is tainted, as some people seem to be implying. What those people are suggesting is, "it doesn't matter what you've done for us in the past, because of your position on this issue we don't trust you anymore."

With this attitude a few have meandered easily into the realm of innuendo, hinting that some people at municipal hall are somehow profiting from the proposed asphalt deal. Children frequently make this sort of argumentative leap.

The asphalt plant proposal is far from perfect, as are the people charged with dealing with the situation. But that doesn't mean their entire character should be called into question.

 

 

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