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Don’t Be Afraid To Express Your Opinion

By Jack Gurner

The Herald doesn’t print anonymous letters. We received one recently that we would like to print because it represents an opposing viewpoint on the beer ordinance uproar. But, for whatever reasons, the writer doesn’t want their identity known.

Once in a great while, the Herald will withhold the name of the person submitting a letter if there is the possibility of danger to the writer or if they might lose their job in retaliation. We do need an address and a phone number, although they will not used in the newspaper. We want to be able to get in touch with the writer in case we have a question about the letter or if we need to verify the identity of the submitter.

The recent letter makes several points starting with the writer’s surprise that something as trivial as an amendment to a beer ordinance and the number of rest rooms in an establishment take precedence in our small town.

Since we aren’t publishing the letter, the writer’s viewpoint, which undoubtedly represents that of others in Water Valley, won’t be heard. That is a shame.

We would like to see the discussion move forward, away from just the beer ordinance and toward the underlying problem of the way city government is run. There are definitely more important things going on in Water Valley that need to be discussed in public. You’re certainly not going to hear any discussion in city board meetings. Issues are settled before they ever are presented for a vote. The mayor has convinced the aldermen that they need to speak with one voice so there appears to be no dissent. That is not speculation. I was told that by more than one alderman.

Wouldn’t it be healthy for the community for the aldermen to express their opinions on issues? Wouldn’t it be healthy for community members to have some input on decisions that affect their lives? Wouldn’t it be healthy to get away from the old way of doing things in secret and behind closed doors?

And, wouldn’t it be healthy for citizens from both sides of an issue to use letters on the editorial page to express their opinions to bring the city’s problems to the surface?

Please consider participating by not being afraid to speak out in public. Question what is going on in your city. Present your ideas for others to consider. And, be proud to sign your name as a contributing member of the community.

Here is what you need to know about letters to the editor. I’ve already stated that the Herald won’t print anonymous letters and we won’t print a letter if it is libelous. Please make your comments as short and concise as possible. We reserve the right to edit what we consider overly long letters. We don’t consider thank-you notes appropriate for the letters columns, since we want to have a discussion of issues on the editorial pages. We’d prefer that you thank people in person or with a personal note, or run an ad if you think it’s important that they receive public thanks.

Around election time, we don’t publish letters about ballot measures and candidates in the last paper before the election, because there would be no opportunity for rebuttal. So political letters must be submitted at least two weeks before an election.

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