Our Views: The Bee’s visting editors search for solutions, provide ideas

05/10/2014 12:00 AM

05/10/2014 10:52 PM

Taking responsiblity for our communities

As members of the community, it is our responsibility to be actual effective members in the ever-evolving challenges faced by our cites, towns and farms. It is always easier to point out problems than to focus on solutions. We cannot always look to local government to solve problems. There are many civic organizations making it a priority to engage themselves in community projects for the betterment of the community.

We are facing a budget deficit in our city even as the economic downturn has brutalized much of the Valley; that means there are many projects that we, as effective members of the community, must take on. Vandalism in our local parks is a continuous problem. We need to take ownership of these challenges and make our communities more appealing. There are many other projects that effective members of the community can tackle if we work together.

This could spark pride and positive feelings that will pay dividends in many ways. Focusing on the positives and having a solution-based approach will change the community for the better. I am just as guilty as anyone in blaming the problem on other variables. However, I realize that if you want something fixed, the surest way to make the fix it is to take ownership and responsibility. I would like to be a part of the solution and help take that responsibility. If someone would like to take on this endeavor with me, call (209) 404-7795 or email arjasmeet@yahoo.com

Grewal is a lifelong resident of Modesto and president of Grewal RE Holdings LLC.

A way to protect vital farmland

Modesto and Stanislaus voters are distressed at the Modesto City Council’s misplaced attempts to widen the city’s tax base at the expense of Wood Colony. All nations, states and counties have borders and don’t go outside those borders to solve internal problems. As farmers, we cannot/do not go outside our boundaries to farm; imagine that ruckus!

Thankfully, there is now a simple and expedient solution to not only enhance the long-term future of Wood Colony but also to enact a long-range tool for our elected officials to protect prime farmland and redirect growth in an upfront way. It involves everyone becoming familiar with – and signing – a citizens initiative called “Stamp Out Sprawl.” This initiative will put in place a General Plan Urban Limit (UL) for Modesto, providing needed farmland protections and preventing residential development from consuming the best areas for creating business parks and commercial development near Highway 99.

This initiative will require a public vote to change those boundaries and also remove the dynamic of revolving City Council members and the resulting short-term land use ideas. The City Council has had its vote. The results do not support the history of Modesto voters to direct expansion away from our best soils and most productive farmland. The “Stamp Out Sprawl” initiative is our public vote, and I strongly urge you to learn more about it. I am thrilled at the opportunity to have a public vote on an issue that affects every person in this county. Inquiries may be sent to stampoutsprawl@gmail.com.

Miller is a Modesto resident with a Wood Colony heritage.

Elected reps should ignore the polls

Many elected officials appear to use polls to figure out how they will vote. But is this the best way to govern?

Polling is becoming an ever-more precise science. Almost immediately it tells politicians how the public thinks they’re doing. Knowing this, the loudest interest groups constantly try to get their issues addressed by pollsters just as spokespeople and spin teams try to tell everyone how to interpret the poll results.

It can become a feedback loop. As the politician checks the polls to see what the public thinks, the public is checking the polls to see how the politician is doing.

In this environment, the media become more crucial. To make an informed judgment, the public requires more information on legislation, issues and the process, not just poll results.

The problem is none of this accurately reflects the actual performance of the person we’ve elected. It is important to remember these public servants were voted into office with the understanding they would represent their constituents’ collective voice, not their individual choices. However, every elected representative has his or her own instincts, perceptions, insights and experience. If inclined to do only what the polls suggest, these individuals are in danger of going against the reasons we elected them.

Public opinion is important; after all, general approval is what helps get lawmakers elected and gets laws passed. And elected officials should consider their constituents’ voices. But it is just as important that they trust their own knowledge and insight. The public is not always right.

Reeves is a Salida resident.

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