Earlier this week, I published a column on the concept of Common Decency, the vision of Dr. Brian May, best known internationally as one of the founders of the rock band Queen and a well-known animal rights advocate in Britain. The Common Decency Campaign calls for government accountability and greater civic engagement.
Several readers wrote to me to express their opinions on our need to promote a government that is free of corruption and inequality and requires decent behavior from our elected representatives.
Deb, a reader from Moreno Valley, offers these thoughts:
I doubt that there are very few of us who would disagree with the concept of “common decency” but figuring out just what that is might be a little more difficult. The things you chose to focus on in your blog are a good start. You did mention the World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley and the shameful way the developer has been able to literally buy himself a city council (and city staff!) that will favor his project. Councilman Giba must be a little concerned because the recall effort against him has started and it is being run by people who have been successful in recalling two city council members. So, Mr. Giba, to show that he was not Iddo Benzeevi’s puppet, I’m sure, makes this ridiculous suggestion about putting the WLC to a vote of the people.
While it might be possible to have a vote on the general plan and what type of development might be conceptually possible for the area where Benzeevi proposes to build the WLC, an outright vote of the people on this specific plan is questionable. A project like this (actually any project) must be proposed and must meet the requirements of numerous state and federal laws. The important document submitted for the project and recently released to the public, must clearly address all manner of important issues, such as traffic, air quality, effects on adjacent properties, cumulative effects, etc. It is just not possible for an electorate to address these very important questions that will and do have consequences for other projects down the road. And even the approval of the project (and it will certainly be approved) does not guarantee that it will come to fruition. Given the vast array of problems a project this size brings, there will be numerous lawsuits filed against the developer and the City of Moreno Valley on the grounds that the project does not meet the qualifications under the various state and federal laws.
Another reader, Tommy, presents these observations based on his years of experience working in public affairs :
One of the reasons many people opt out of political participation is they believe the deck is stacked against regular people due to the money and influence of special interests. But in a way, people contribute to that power because they participate in political polls that are conducted in order to develop data that can be analyzed to boiled down talking points, messages, commercials and other communications from politicians to give voters the impression that their concerns are understood when in fact it is just a way of tailoring communication in a way to tell voters what they want to hear instead of what candidates really think. In a way, people opt out of the political system because they are frustrated by a system they provide the ammunition for to be used against their real interests. Thus, they give their power away for free!
So, in addition to pushing for common decency in our political arena, how about a campaign to encourage people to not be so forthright with pollsters. In a way, why not just lie to them on every question they ask so that instead of politicians just feeding back to us what they know we want to hear, lets force them to tell us what they really think. If they can’t find out what people want to hear in advance, they will just have to resort to real communication instead of consultant driven talking points based on polling data.
And Frank voiced his opinion:
People are too fed up with politicians who respond only to the monied interests. I sent an email requesting data from my councilman over 3 months ago….no response to date. Your platform will allow you to raise the level of information available to current and would-be voters alike.
I believe here in the Inland Empire there is an intense hunger for change and a desire to elevate our thinking when it comes to how we run our cities. For too long some of our cities have been bought and paid for by small influential special interest groups or, in some cases, a single individual of wealth, prominence, or land. The Common Decency plan calls for the electorate to vote for the best candidate regardless of party of affiliation, question all candidates, demand decency of those in elected office, and participate in public conversations to educate others in the community. I agree with Frank, the VOICE is here to provide that platform. Please share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s continue the conversation.