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Editor's Notebook #2 - Mar 13, 2010


Citizen apathy?

During Tuesday night's Proposition 4 debate between Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton and Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, Jon repeatedly talked about how few citizens come to zoning and other land-use meetings, and how he didn't think turning major planning decisions over to citizens was a good idea because so few care enough to learn even a little about these highly technical issues.

Joe McClash, who besides being a Manatee County Commissioner is the publisher of The Bradenton Times, believes citizens would turn out for more meetings if they knew what was being discussed, when and where those meetings were held, and how these issues affected people's lives. In fact, Joe's major motive in starting this online publication was to give Manatee County residents more information than they were getting about government activities in hopes of spurring more citizen activism.

So Jon thinks people don't care. Joe thinks they care, but don't know how to make their voices heard. I have another thought: that many of us have tried and failed to make our voices heard, and have given up on having our reps listen to us.

When I lived in the Village of the Arts in Bradenton, I went to planning sessions, I went to council meetings, and I talked with the mayor and my council member. I didn't say anything or ask for anything most of my neighbors weren't asking for along with me, but when it came time for actual fund allocations or decisions on what blocks within the Village of the Arts the city was going to encourage (or discourage) as retail areas, we were ignored. We might as well have saved our breath and stayed home.

Will more people knowing more about what's going on in local government change anything? We'll see. The Bradenton Times is an experiment in bringing a little more political information to people like you and me. What will we do with it? A good question. I have no answer for you. Ask me again in a few years.

Journalism as dialogue, not monologue

One great thing about Internet journalism is that it doesn't need to be one-way. If you disagree with something you see in The Bradenton Times you can comment on it directly as part of the article. There's a "Click here to add a comment to this page" link at the bottom of every article we publish, including this one.

You can also start your own discussion in our new forum. You can post anything you like (other than obscenities and hate speech and such; we like a little decorum around here) in our forum, with our without our approval. This is like being your own editor -- or like having your own blog, except we already have many thousands of readers, while if you start a blog you might have to sweat to get a few hundred.

You can also write front-page articles for us. And submit photos and videos, too. We don't pay for opinion pieces, and we only pay $20 (at this moment) for reported stories. We're small-time and running on a shoestring budget, but we're the best -- and fastest-growing -- way to share information and commentary with your Manatee County neighbors.

Classified ads, too. We've made them free for you. (Check them out!)

Another week, another fifty cents

It used to be, "Another day, another dollar." Times have changed. We're all learning to do more with less. Some say this is good for us. As I write this, I've now been two weeks without cigarettes. This is a savings of about $50 per week, which is a nice amount to keep in hand instead of spending, no?

We all do what we can to get by as best we can.

Thanks for reading,

Robin Miller

Editor and Reporter

The Bradenton Times


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