I was part of a small group to organize the county Democratic forum in Fairview recently. I had a tough job to keep the “forum” definition viable: from Latin—foris, out of doors.
“We don’t want citizen participation,” I was told when I suggested a question oriented on the subject [of] promoting transparency, or adding an e-mail [address] to the ad in our town paper so the citizens could send their questions in advance for us to study and prepare for, or even proposing a bipartisan forum.
I had to insist [in order] for the matter of citizen participation to be taken into consideration, but it was turned down by e-mail after a member of the group, who was supposed to take our drafted questions and rewrite them, wrote to me that my question was not “well written” enough to be considered.
I feel like I have been censored—my questions pushed aside—and that the Mountain Spring community was not represented [because] we have serious concerns about our water, wells and springs due to the arrival of the giant Cliffs golf course and its five tons of chemicals a year in our watershed.
Fairview is under a spell or a paralysis, as no one wants to speak up or act, in order to sleep better, comfort each other and make no waves. Self-censorship is common. With years of neglect and inattention, we are starting to hear such incredible statements as: “We don’t want citizen participation.” And this is, for me, the sign that our local democracy and our party are in danger.
Intentionally reducing the citizen participation and using censorship at such a basic level of participatory democracy is scandalous. … [We need] scrutiny and questioning of the real intentions at every level of the system. We should not muzzle citizen participation or dictate the destiny of a community that easily. We should be their representative, conducting business in their name with integrity and devotion.
— Francois Manavit
Vice-Chair, Democratic Precinct 39.2