New Castle News

Closer Look

May 31, 2014

John K. Manna: Citizens demonstrate they can make a difference

NEW CASTLE — Taxpayers often complain that their complaints to government officials tend to fall on deaf ears.

It isn’t really a matter of officials not listening or caring, but whether they can really do much about solving the issues that citizens complain about.

And this week we saw evidence that what taxpayers say can have an effect.

That evidence was New Castle City Council’s adoption of an ordinance banning the operation of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes in the city. The ordinance doesn’t prohibit ownership, but only the operation of the vehicles anywhere within the city limits.

Back in April, several residents appeared before council, complaining about youngsters recklessly operating ATVs through their neighborhoods and showing disregard for people and their properties.

Council members empathized with the residents, expressing that they understood what they are dealing with and that they shouldn’t have to live with the problem.

An ordinance was soon drafted, introduced by council on May 22, adopted six days later and signed by the mayor on Thursday.

Council held a special meeting to adopt that ordinance and two others because its next regular session is in late June. Waiting until then would have meant the ordinance wouldn’t take effect until mid-July. Now it will take effect on June 18, just before the time summer officially begins.

While council acted swiftly, it did so because so many residents registered complaints. Had the residents not appeared before council, it’s highly doubtful the ordinance would have been enacted at this time.

Not to diminish council’s action, but ATVs weren’t exactly a priority of city officials before the complaints were registered in April.

The essential point is that while taxpayers may believe their voices fall on deaf ears at times, they definitely can have an influence on the actions of elected officials.

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