Ms. Linda Raffield’s recent letter to the editor (See “Talk about some other ‘hard truths’” in Oct. 10 issue) challenged the veracity and even the very motivation behind our recent six-part ad series about county issues of special concern to us. We made a choice of important local subjects and felt that such advertising would be the best method to present our concerns. Saying that the issues we discussed “only amounts to more of the same ole digs at the local government” tries to dismiss the well-prepared and researched series as unsubstantiated, ill-considered nonsense. We will be happy to provide our source data for anyone interested in fact checking our posts.
We created an educational outreach series highlighting local government, taxation, education, economic development and health care. These subjects reflect the worries of many. We tried to encourage all to think proactively about our county home. Talking about issues that affect most of us helps to open constructive dialogues and thus to encourage a more positive countywide future.
It is not an opinion but rather documented fact that our healthcare outcomes are well below state standards. It is fact that our school system is not graduating enough competent students, has a below -average state grade and above average drop-out rate. Franklin County suffers a shortage of economic development. Getting a job, promotion or contract with Franklin County or city governments too often depends upon who you know rather than an applicant’s personal or business qualifications. It is factual that many of our young have arrest records, use drugs, and are themselves products of broken families even as they create more. These are tough issues facing our county today.
What Franklin County issues do you believe need real discussion with constructive action? Without a thorough understanding of where we are, how can a successful course be plotted leading to better outcomes for you, your children, family and neighbors? We tried to begin a dialogue, and we are glad you chose to respond.
But arbitrary statements like “move it down the road if you don’t like it here” ignores the reality that over 75 percent of total county property taxes are paid by outsiders. Without those “outsider” monies, this county you and I love would cease to exist. Do you or others really want those property taxes, gas taxes, local shopping and restaurant purchases to “move on down the road?” If so, our hopes and efforts to help grow a better Franklin future will indeed be for naught.
Just like you, we love Franklin County for its people, natural beauty and so much more. We chose to be here. But we also see too many deprived of hope, education, prosperity and equal chances for the best jobs and opportunities.
Our ad outreach resulted in many supportive calls, letters and interested new members. Your perceptions featured a traditional picture of Franklin County. We hope others will offer additional dialogue and positive plans. But we also want our local leaders to offer more than platitudes and false hopes for wishful-thinking handouts that may come from state and federal governments to create a few temporary jobs. That kind of unrealistic thinking is constantly expressed at meetings and especially each election year.
We suggest that all of us look to our leaders, including elected political figures, business leaders, social and religious leaders, that Franklin County opportunities be opened equally to all, free of political or personal preferential bias. Those leaders must help create the conditions that allow all to better engineer personal and professional success. Dependence is not the answer; we want to help our friends and neighbors to be empowered on their own behalf, not relying on failing systems.
Each month, Concerned Citizens of Franklin County (CCFC) representatives attend meetings of the hospital and school boards, county commission, budget workshops and other public meetings. We believe it is vital that more citizens attend those meetings to watch their elected leaders in action. We believe some of our leaders are failing us. There’s an old expression “if you could see through my eyes…” Regular attendance at county meetings is truly “eye opening.” We believe that if more citizens were present, actively expressing interest and concern toward their leaders, those dialogues would energize our political landscape.
Franklin County’s sense of community is truly wonderful. We have all experienced it firsthand. We’ve also seen the opposite behaviors. Too many drumbeaters promise this or that, falsely touting that oft-imaginary good times are right around the next monthly or annual corner. Families with power starve those without. We see workers without credentials getting the best jobs and those who are locked out of equal opportunities. We see those that make money off the backs of the have-nots. We see those on the edge of starvation, truly without hope for themselves or their families’ future.
Sometimes a painfully realistic diagnosis must be made before medicine can help the patient improve.
Although it may be popular to “shoot the messenger with the news,” CCFC is not an evil or a self-serving group of citizens. We sincerely believe that responsible government here benefits us all. We care about Franklin County just as much as you do. We live here and love it!
Our 400-plus members hope to be welcomed in the communities for more than the dollars they bring. The many new arrivals chose to be here because this is a wonderful place in so many ways. We brought our skills, dollars and ethics with us to enhance Franklin County, not hurt it.
We don’t have all the answers. But we do know some of the questions to ask our leaders. We ask for fiscal responsibility, honesty and intelligence. We want our elected institutional leadership to plan a proactive future for Franklin County’s adults and children.
The CCFC wants to be a constructive part of our local future. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConcernedCitizensofFranklinCounty. Be a part of our dialogue and become a voice for tomorrow.
Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.