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April 30, 2015     Lovell Chronicle
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4 I The Lovell Chronicle I April 30, 2015 CHRONICLE Observations I'm trying to understand the desire by people in our cities to not only protest, to not only riot, but to also loot, destroy and commit violence for a cause. I understand the frustration. I understand why people in Balti- more would be frustrated that Freddie Gray died April 18 in police custody with a severe spinal injury. I understand why people in South Carolina would be upset that an unarmed Walter Scott was shot in the back and killed while running from an officer on April 4. What I don't understand is why people take it out on the very communities they live in. If I got mad at the Lovell Police Depart- ment, why would I want to huck a chair through the front window at Queen Bee Honey Candy, burn down the Hyart or loot Red Apple? It doesn't make sense. Protesting an injustice is not only constitutional, it is part of our American fabric. But if people in Ferguson, Mo or Baltimore are frustrated with a police killing, if they believe a grave injustice has been committed, why take it out on the very people who are trying to make a living in their communities? If their effort is to help the citizens who are victims of bad officers or a corrupt police force, why commit violence against those very citizens? How does burning down a store in Ferguson, Mo bring back Michael Brown? How does looting a mall in Baltimore bring justice to the Freddie Gray family? Sometimes I think people are looking for an excuse to riot and loot. There was a shooting? Good, now I can go steal some televi- sions. This is nothing new. Los Angeles burned in 1992 after four white police officers were acquitted after being charged with the use of excessive force in the beating of Rodney King. This makes good television, of course, and the cable TV news shows love to provide blow-by-blow coverage and give all sorts of expert commentary about the situation. What they don't often show are the efforts by citizens to react peacefully to violence in communities, because that doesn't drive up ratings. I wonder how many people across the nation know that, even as rioting erupted in Baltimore Monday, hundreds of clergy linked arms and took to the streets in an effort to restore the peace and end the violence, while other citizens went to the aid of the police? Local media noted the effort. The Baltimore Sun called on 'the thousands who have already marched in peaceful solidarity with the Gray family's cause, and the many thousands more who gave silently supported them, to take back the movement, to drown out those few who choose chaos over order." Seeking social justice and resolving conflict takes hard work. It takes patience and determination. It means taking a dignified and honorable stand. It takes communication and a willingness to work with people with whom you don't agree or who have even done the community harm. Violence solves nothing and only hurts a cause, and there's evi- dence emerging that many rioters in recent cases are not local but are "professional protesters" or anarchists who are taking advan- tage of the situation to incite violence. With social media, it is easy to stir up emotions and fan the flames of violence. Rational thought is rarely part of the equation, and people are easily swayed. It seems that the older I get, the less I understand people. You would think the opposite would be true. But the world is a crazy place and getting crazier. There is less and less patience and un- derstanding for opposing points of view and more and more cat- egorizing of people in particular groups, which makes it easier to dismiss them. We don't listen anymore. We seek only those view- points we agree with and convince ourselves that everybody else is dead wrong. It's irrational. It's scary. And frankly, it's sad. Tolerance seems to be fast fading into the sunset. We have problems right here at home, but for the most part, with a few exceptions, local officials and citizens are able to work through problems with a rational and cooperative approach, and people in Wyoming tend to deal calmly with tense situations, even when emotions are running high. Wyoming people tend to be independent in their thinking. They also tend to be fair. It's another reason I give thanks every day for living in Wyo- ming. - David Peck WYOMING PRESS ASSOCIATION ~ @ ~ ~fg~ ~;~:,:,:: ~:,:.:~,:~,:~:~:.~::::~ :::::::::::::::::::::::: L 2o 4 awa d-winn n N wspapcr/ Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Lovell Chronicle, USPS 321-060 234 E. Main, Lovell, Wyoming 82431 (307) 548-2217 Published every Thursday Periodical postage paid at Lovell, Wyoming Publisher: David Peck Editor: Patti Carpenter Staff: Dorothy Nelson, Marwyn Layne, Teressa Ennis, John Lafko, Leonora Barton, Karlie Voss, Dustin McClure www.LovellChronicle.com MRS. JoNEs? REX SAYS TO CO/ I GET OUT OF THIS PLACE-OR WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ACTIONS! We have immediate family members So we lived in Brookings for eight in Nevada, California and Oregon; and years and our progeny all graduated from friends, cousins and shirttail relatives in Brookings-Harbor High School. Then they California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, New went their separate ways: one joined the Mexico, Arizona, Washington state and U.S. Air Force, another (the one who dis- somewhere "back East." And likely others liked Brookings the most) stayed there in states I've forgotten. ' and started a successful business that's The funny aspect of our leaving Ore- still operating and the youngest moved gon in 2009 after 30 years (we had lived in back to San Diego County. She likes California for 35 years prior to that move) the hustle and bustle. I'm sure she's our is that people kept asking us why we were daughter, but sometimes I wonder. moving toMontana. I'd say,"No, not Mon- Bob In 1986 we moved inland to Cave tana, we're going to Wyoming." They'd Rodriguez Junction, Ore which now has a popula- say, "Oh, yeah, right." Then the next time tion in the city limits of around 1,900 per- we'd talk they'd say, "Hey, how's Montana?" Good sons. When we arrived there bright eyed and bushy grief, that gets tiresome, tailed, there were some 1,200 souls in the city. It People seem to have "funny ideas" about the was OK because the kids had gone off on their own. great Cowboy State. Most believe firmly that the en- Plenty of people were somewhat astounded when we tire state gets covered with 10 feet of snow during said that we were moving to, of all places, Lovell, the winter. They also believe that we all wear cow- Wyoming, with a population of 2,360, more or less. boy hats and cowboy boots. Some of us do, I know. For us, less is better. So it's probably no surprise But I'm still wearing my Australian bush hat that I that although we're still Lovell property owners and boUght years ago at the San Diego Zoo. And I have have some real nice Lovell connections we make our boots, but they're not real cowboy boots; they're home in Clark with roughly 300 full-time residents more like dress-up boots, who share approximately 50 square miles of real es- Wyoming's population is 584,153, according to tate. Yikes! If we move again, we'll be by ourselves. the 2014 Census estimate. Our native Golden State Anyway, our friends and relatives think that is the most populous state with 38 million people, we're weird for moving away from metropolitan ar- Oregon is listed with a population of 3,970,239. Way eas. We think they're nuts for staying in such ar- too many people. Makes me queasy just to think eas. Sometimes it's humorous, though, as one cous- about it. In fact, just the thought of attending a in, after I told him that I'd bought a 50-pound sack sporting event with 42,445 people in Petco Stadium of corn, said, "I didn't know that you guys liked corn in San Diego makes me nervous. Then there's Aut- that much." I told him that the birds eat it. A friend, zen Stadium in Eugene, Ore which often contains when I told him that deer come around to eat the 59,000 fans. Boy, Beavers and Ducks really pack 'em wild grasses and drink from the stream, asked, "Do in. Some good games, though, they ever attack you?" He was serious. City boy, you We've always moved from large population lo- see. cations to areas with not too many people. When Some of our acquaintances think that we hob- we moved in 1979 from Escondido, Calif which nob with bison and bears. I tell them that we don't now has nearly 150,000 persons in its environs, the have bison in our area and that we carry bear spray head count there was 64,355. Wow, we moved just in because we don't want to be mauled or maybe eaten. time. Our first major move, other than shifting from They say (in all innocence based on their only con- town to town in San Diego County, was to Brook- nection with bears being in zoos), "Are they danger- ings, Ore on the coast. A lovely location. Except the ous?" No, not really, we just carry bear spray and population was 3,384 and now it's 6,336. Again, we arms because we think that it makes us look cool. moved just in time. After we moved to Brookings, Then they ask, "So how's it going up there in our three kids asked Jan to tell "Dad" (that's me) to Montana?" That's when I say, "Oops, got to go before please not move anywhere smaller, the deer attack us." and BY LEE H. HAMILTON I've seen a lot over my decades in politics, and not much alarms me. But I have to be blunt: Money is poisoning our political system. The people who matter most to a representa- tive democracy -- the ordinary voters in whose in- terests elected politicians are supposed to act - feel they've become an afterthought in the political process. The tidal wave of money washing over our elections, with no end in sight, is causing Ameri- cans to lose faith in the system. Oddly, many politicians see no problem. They don't believe that they're selling their votes, or even that money influences their behavior. While it is a rare member of Congress who would change his or her vote because of money, there is ample evidence that when donors contrib- ute heavily, they have a disproportionate influence over the legislator; that's not "corruption," but it means that the opinions of average citizens are di- minished when it comes to policy-making. Thanks to a series of Supreme Court decisions over the last half-decade, we've seen a surge in cam- paigu spending that is beyond the ability of jour- nalists and regulators to track. This money pur- chases attack ads that saturate the airwaves with scant clue as to who is funding them. And it push- es our politics toward the extremes, emphasizing ideological purity, unremitting partisanship and a political culture that exalts confrontation over con- ge now! sensus-building. In other words, it cripples repre- sentative democracy. So what can we do? The first priority is to find ways of boosting prompt financial disclosure -- to trace the source of campaign spending on behalf of candidates and incumbents before an election so that voters know who is supporting whom, and can match candidates' positions on issues with the in- terests of their financial backers. Disclosure done after elections is meaningless. The second major reform is to make public funds available for financing campaigns, thus am- plifying the contributions of ordinary Americans, freeing candidates to spend more time on substance rather than fundraising, and letting them engage more fully with voters rather than donors. The odds of action are not encouraging. Yet I'm heartened by something Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters in New Hampshire the oth- er day. "You're going to have money dumped in this election cycle that's going to turn off the American people," he said. "There's going to be a need and a movement to try to control the money in politics." Let's hope he's right. Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Con- gress at Indiana University; Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and En- vironmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.