Public Opinion Pandering 12/19/2006 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Public Opinion Pandering 12/19/2006

Last week, the final design choices for the two new Ohio River bridges were unveiled. But although the public was encouraged to vote on its preferences via numerous open houses and the Internet, neither choice reflected the wishes of the majority.

Now this, in itself, doesn't bother me, because some things simply shouldn't be decided by popular vote. Experts are much more likely to understand the true ramifications of engineering, design and economic factors than the average citizen.

But, that being the case, why go through the charade of soliciting the public's opinions if they aren't going to be considered anyway? Wouldn't it be better not to raise expectations, if you don't plan to meet them in the first place?

People are bound to be frustrated when they're asked to "get involved," only to be told to "get lost" when that involvement doesn't produce the desired result. And it's only a short jump from frustration to cynicism.

Giving the public the illusion of a voice - and then yanking it out from under them -- is no way to foster participation in government. And unlike Charlie Brown - who never did figure out that Lucy was going to pull that football away at the last second - I think there's a limit to how many times our local citizens will be fooled into playing along.

I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my Point of View

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