Archived Story

Who had burden?

Published 10:30am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In response to the public outcry over the decision to collect a $200 garbage fee to balance the budget, Southampton County supervisors voted Monday to delay the collection of this new fee until March 31.

The chief complaints that led to the delay were people were either unaware of the due date, deadline to file for an exemption, or unaware of the fee.

Supervisors held several meetings where the fee was discussed and debated, the appropriate legal notices were published on the county’s website and The Tidewater News published no fewer than a dozen stories, columns, letters and editorials on the hotly debated subject.

The topic was in the public domain for months, yet many feel they were not properly notified. Which leads to an interesting question; to whom does the burden fall for keeping the public informed of issues facing the community?

Never before has the citizenry of this country had access to the information available today. The 24-hour news channels, the Internet, social media, newspapers and radio provide as much information as anyone could possibly need.

Which perhaps begs another question; should accommodations be made for those who, with so much information available, choose not to inform themselves?

The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services lists nine basic responsibilities of citizenship. Second is the admonition to “stay informed of the issues affecting your community.”

It does not list as a right of citizenship that the government spoon-feed information.

Could supervisors have taken further steps to ensure that residents were better informed regarding the new fee assessment? Perhaps. Billboards could have been purchased. Skywriters could have been hired. Town hall meetings could have been arranged.

But if the amount of information made available to the public went unrecognized by those who are pleading ignorance, we suspect additional measures would have gone unnoticed as well.

Benjamin Franklin once said “A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”

As to the question of who bears the burden of keeping the public informed, it’s difficult to imagine Ben would have had much sympathy for those who plead ignorance. As to whether concessions should be made for those who do, the Board of Supervisors has clearly answered in the affirmative.

  • Franklin Native

    “Never before has the citizenry of this country had access to the information available today. The 24-hour news channels, the Internet, social media, newspapers and radio provide as much information as anyone could possibly need.

    Which perhaps begs another question; should accommodations be made for those who, with so much information available, choose not to inform themselves?”

    I would like to ask the Tidewater News for those that do not have internet (shocking, there are a lot!) and work long hours (again must be shocking to some that many do not spend work time on Facebook or other social media, listening to the radio, or make it home in time for the news), how they should keep themselves informed? Should they call the County every month to learn if there are new taxes?

    Suggest Removal

  • employee2

    Does the county use “reverse 911″?

    Suggest Removal

  • Chris Fuller

    I would have to say that the county has the burden of making sure that the citizens are aware of new charges or fee’s. Many people in rural areas do not have access to internet and do not receive the Tidewater News and even if they do have access the burden is not on them. The county should send the information to each individual to inform them what the charges are and what the reason for the charges are. I also think that it is disrespectful for this paper to post articles like this talking bad about the residents because they do not read the Tidewater News.

    Suggest Removal

  • ivorcp

    Yes, yet another “Staff Report” with no signature. What a GREAT way to increase your subscriptions! Nothing is better for business than bad-mouthing your customers…

    Suggest Removal

  • foxtrotter56

    I’m not sure why you find a need to talk so negatively about the citizens of Southampton County and in so many words accuse them of being “ignorant”, but nobody was expecting to be “spoon fed” any information regarding county issues. After all, these “ignorant” citizens pay all the counties employees salaries and then some. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!!!

    Suggest Removal

    • mbrya023

      Seems that as of late the Tidewater News thinks everyone in the area that doesn’t read them are idiots. Notice that when they are expressing their disdain for those in the area that they don’t bother to sign their names to the article.

      Suggest Removal

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