EDITORIAL: A lesson Congress can learn

By Observer editorial October 08, 2013 12:59 pm

So much of the attention of the nation is fixed on Washington, D.C., that it is easy to forget that democracy is made up of the sum of many small, seemingly irrelevant, actions.

A good case in point is the decision last week by the La Grande City Council to purchase a new phone system for the fire department.

In mid-September the fire department’s system crashed. It goes without saying — or least it should — that public safety entities need to be able to depend on proper, functional equipment.

Based on how national elected leaders appear to want to do business, this simple, but critical decision for a phone system, could easily evolve into a long, drawn out debate regarding public spending, resource allocation and fiscal vision.

Instead, a group of locally elected leaders made a simple — and, at first glance, insignificant — decision. They sought guidance from the fire chief regarding repairing the old system. That proved to be — at between $4,000 to $5,000 plus reprogramming costs — less palatable then simply purchasing a new system for just over $6,000.

The council decided to purchase a new system from a Hermiston-based firm and move forward.

A simple, seemingly minor agenda item on an ordinary autumn night in La Grande.

The council faced a problem, sought facts and made a decision. And, in the end, it made the right decision.

A new phone system for the fire department is a sound choice based on a real need.

It is a shame then that one can view democracy at work at the local level, and, arguably, at the state Legislature yet find the same manner of political workmanship absent at the federal level.

Perhaps the lawmakers in Washington, D.C., should take a look at what their brethren do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in hometown America.

At the very least, they might figure out that democracy doesn’t mean arguing like little children over a set of crayons.

Then again, based on the recent news out of the Capitol, they might not.