I wanted to respond to your recent editorial "To the few who are active, I applaud you" (Aug. 7).
If you attended city council meetings during the time the huge projects were approved, if you read the EIR and "mitigations" (e.g., on the traffic issue, the response was that there is already a traffic problem! This is a bad joke and not a mitigation); if you watched the mayor and council appoint hand-picked council members instead of Charlotte (Williams) (who got many more votes than they did); if you saw the General Plan being subverted to residents' detriment, and if you are now watching 5-0 votes on everything, you should not be at all surprised that many feel discouraged and only one brave person is challenging incumbents for city council. Let's hope there will be some write-ins.
It is difficult to attend meetings and feel belittled and not listened to. It is a lot of work to get referendums on the ballot or run for office, go door-to-door to inform people and get out the vote. Close to half the voters did vote against these huge projects so all the people working on the referendums should be congratulated for their civic involvement rather than being criticized by the rest of the public, mayor, council and newspapers. Those who proposed the referendums had only the good of the community in mind and did not stand to gain monetarily in any way. The same cannot be said for the proponents of these projects.
Perhaps if the newspapers had offered balanced coverage of these issues, there would not have been so much divisiveness and the vote may even have been different. Instead, there was a disinformation campaign that was difficult to overcome.
Think about how a democracy works. Would a council and mayor want to choose their own councilmembers to fill vacancies or would they want to respect what the voters said? Would they throw out Robert's Rules of Order without a vote and replace them with a system that perverts democracy? Would the newspapers repeat everything the city officials tell them without due diligence and research? Would the outcome of the vote be bought and paid for (like Citizen of the Year) or would people have access to the truth? Would the General Plan, that residents worked on for years, be completely ignored, even to the point of radically changing zoning and allowing huge developments on two of the city entryways?
I cannot hold office in Calistoga, as I live outside city limits yet many issues directly impact me so I try to stay informed and active. I will continue to do so but I cannot see how attending meetings when the vote is already a slam-dunk is a good use of my time and energy right now. I have spoken up at meetings, I do get politically involved and I do write letters to the editor. Of course I would like to see more people at city council meetings and writing letters and voting. At the same time, there are many other ways to be active in politics. The press must do its job as the "fourth estate" in order for democracy to function.