You don't have to go far
The City of Hays has been industrious; a new hiking park on Vineyard is open. I call it a park instead of trail because I suspect eventually it will become a dog park. Enjoy it hikers, and look carefully where you are stepping.
Vine Street is under construction again. This must be a post city commission election ritual. Imagine if they started this chaotic construction before an election. Candidates could debate a real issue instead of relying on the endorsement of a friend and, I think, competitor in the election. Ignore Washington or Topeka as you don't have to go that far away to witness political cronyism or convenient decisions applied by government.
A new public employee has a rookie mistake and allows a candidate on the ballot that did not file correctly to be on the ballot. The candidate is elected, and the local board of education accepts the candidate. I hope the newly elected candidate is not included in decisions on the government class curriculum.
Many students are delighted with this outcome; now they have the role model to wait until the last day to submit assignments. You don't have to go far to observe errors from government officials or lack of transparency from elected groups.
I am walking down the street and this guy comes to me and asks for $10 to buy his lunch. I say no, so he said give it to me or I will take it from you. This really did not happen, but you don't have to go far to see extortion done legal as the county government offered voters a choice of paying sales tax or property tax.
I am certain the city leaders of Great Bend, Dodge City, Salina, Colby and McCook, Neb., are delighted as Hays continues to pass project cost on to consumers. When paying for the lavish lifestyles of oil barons and Wall Street speculators, why pay more in sales tax when it cost an equal amount to drive elsewhere. The sports complex is open to the public; the jail is open through invitation only. I presume you will require an invitation to gain access to the county government's fancy lad offices. Sadly the county had a revenue source for these goals before it caved to wealthy property owners and halted wind farm development. You don't have to go far to feel how wealth concentration forces those not in high-income brackets pay the bills of governance.
I am part of the problem and not the solution. I could go to public meetings and voice concern. Instead, I work full-time and another part-time job with the hope of remaining in the middle class. I did vote, however, and you don't have to go far to understand voter apathy. This translates as people are working hard to make a living and do not have time or energy for civics.
This is an ideal situation for the leisure society that has money and time to install state and federal officials. The problem is their candidates are incompetent and beholden to the leisure society. All that is needed to help their actions succeed is low voter turnout and a tired electorate. In the middle class, you work for the rich and support the poor, with little time for civic engagement. I guess you could say it sucks to be us.
Now for some good news, I sincerely believe our local elected officials only have the best interest of the community guiding their decisions. How they arrive to an elected position or make decisions is irrelevant since they are here, just down the street. Why expect accountability in Topeka or Washington. Those representatives will say what you want to hear. They are lobbied daily by special-interest groups, and these groups are paying for their elections. Your concern is filed under "Ignore until next election."
You don't have to go far to expect government accountability when there is ample opportunity locally. When you practice local accountability, you will be prepared for state and federal candidates who seem to offer everything. In reality, they should be wearing their corporate sponsor emblems similar to NASCAR. This would give you an idea on how they will act when elected.
Voting is the ultimate tool for accountability, and you don't have to go far to access the ballot. This is the one time it is worth the extra distance, and your influence will go far by acting locally.
Glenn Michael Cox, Hays, was raised on farm in north-central Kansas. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State University and works as a manager of supervised services for a local private nonprofit agency.