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Opinion

Freedom of speech

| Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011

Once again the world sees a mass movement — this time in Egypt — demanding a stronger voice in government.

We proclaim that is not a problem in our nation, state, county, boroughs and townships. Yet all too rarely do we use our voices. The tasks at hand may not be so invigorating as to call for public demonstration. But there is more to do as citizens than voting (and even the majority often doesn't do that).

Consider some things recently in the area news:

• Voters this year will elect or re-elect officials on county row. As far as we know, all elected officials in county government have worked together to cut costs and keep taxes stable.

Yet county row officials may be too quiet. As elected officials, they have an obligation to speak directly to the public if they perceive better ways for county government to govern. And it is the obligation of voters to ask the incumbents and challengers seeking office if they think that is the case.

• A work group created by Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek and made up of government agencies, counselors, church representatives, attorneys and educators is looking at ways to reduce public school truancy. The judge believes the group will be an ongoing project. If you are concerned with the problem of truancy, make your views known to local officials and offer your comments to the work group. And there are always letters to the editor.

• Ford City Council is considering buying a needed new garbage truck for $175,624 through a cooperative state purchasing program. That is a good way to go, but citizens should ask council in this (and other towns) if garage and refuse collection should remain the business of government -- or should joint municipal contracts be sought with private haulers, or should private companies just handle the chore• The status quo may well be best, but citizens can seek an open discussion on alternatives.

• The Freeport Leechburg, Apollo Group, an organization working to restore historic charm and economic vitality to their towns and for the development of trails and waterways in the region, will conduct a fundraising dinner March 19. (visit flagpa.com for details). It is a marvelous cooperative effort. Citizens could initiate a dialogue in their towns to see if such an effort can be launched there also.

• No political party has enough volunteers. And none in this area can claim to have enough young people in its ranks. Part of our responsibility as citizens is to become activists for good government, and a direct way to do that is to get in touch with your party leaders and ask what you can do.

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