Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When our congressman is the silent type

Once upon a time, our hometown newspaper would tell us how  a local congressman voted or commented on  a hot issue that was generating so many columns and headlines.   But, alas, that important nexus between a newspaper and us has been abandoned in the decline of what used to be tossed toward our front door each morning.

The latest example for me was when I realized that I had seen nothing reported about my Republican  congressman regarding the Iran nuclear framework that was causing so much commotion. I decided to call his office.   I'm talking about Rep. Jim Renacci, folks, who doesn't seem too unhappy about his absence in newsprint, particularly on controversial matters.  This time he simply chose to  go undercover.

 "I would like to know what the congressman's position is on the Iran nuclear deal," I said to a voice at the other end of the call.


Then another voice, this one in Renacci's Washington office , responded. "May I help you?"

I repeated my question.

Pause, a longer one this time.

Finally, "The congressman will have no statement."

But even that evasive answer might have been reported in the daily paper for anyone hoping to be an informed citizen.   Trouble is, the Beacon Journal has no Washington Bureau, once professionally managed by Dave Hess or Bill Hershey.  It has closed it's Columbus Bureau, too, which as the paper's then Metropolitan editor, I had  the convenience of working with our  able reporters.

Bottom line: Reporting on the area's state lawmakers  is so scarce that we won't see their names in print until they appear on the ballot again. And with Congress, it's  even worse now that the Republicans have chopped Summit County into four  districts.  

Do you think that democracy is  supposed to work that way?

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