The role of good journalism is to inform and educate its readers on issues that affect their lives.
There is no pride in not paying “a lot of attention to the gyrations of the legislature or the governor in Olympia” (see editorial: “Job well done in Olympia? Apparently so” May 23, 2013).
These so-called “gyrations” directly affect the people of San Juan County. “Our little corner of the world” is not an isolated backwater — we could not survive if it were.
The state budget impacts our county budget, which includes fundamental services such as the Sheriff’s Office and public roads, and quality-of-life programs such as 4-H, parks and the county Fair.
Washington State Ferries are our lifeline. Every decision (good or bad) impacting our ferry service, from schedules and maintenance to new vessel constructionn and even the parking fees in Anacortes, are a result of the decisions made in Olympia and they affect us all.
Also, the state budget determines the amount of health services funding that San Juan County receives which, in turn, impacts the public health services that can be provided.
The Derelict Vessel Removal Program bill (ESHB1245) featured in the aforementioned editorial was recently passed by the state legislature and signed into law by our governor. We are fortunate that this law happens to environmentally/economically benefit our county, but this was without any current county representative going to bat for us on this issue. Will they on other such issues in the future?
I would expect no less from our council members, yet only one has testified at one legislative hearing so far this year and no letters from the council on any legislative issue have been sent in 2013.
If our county council members are not in constant contact with Olympia, paying attention to the bills that impact “our little corner”, then citizens will need to step up all the more (see Carol Hooper’s letter to this journal: “Fed up with ferry failures, A call to action” April 29, 2013).
We citizens could use some support. Good journalism is needed now more than ever to report and inform its readers on legislative issues that impact our community. That means paying attention, and then telling us about it.
Shaun Hubbard/San Juan Island