Once again disappointed residents left a Hubbard County board meeting complaining.
But this time it wasn't because of a decision the board made - or maybe it was if the audience could have heard it.
"Did they forget to turn the PA system on again?" queried a senior citizen leaving the meeting.
Nope. Just didn't bother to use it.
The man and several attendees huddled in the hallway to see if anybody could make heads or tails out of what had just occurred.
At what point does this public body not get it? How can you conduct effective government if your members mumble like old geezers or talk like no one else is in the room?
The city council isn't much better in its new meeting quarters. The library, while cozy, may be too cozy to get the word out. Department heads sit in a bunch clustered in the middle of the room and speak to the council as if they were shooting the breeze in the living room.
No one seated behind or to the side of these folks can hear a doggoned thing.
Deplorable acoustics is only partially to blame. Citizen participants repeatedly implore our public officials to speak up.
They are ignored.
At what point does your public duty include the duty to speak up? The day you are elected, each and every mealy mouthed one of you.
It shouldn't be up to the media or spectators in the room fortunate enough to be able to hear to explain the proceedings to citizens who've been barred from participating because elected officials can't spit the words out.
About the only public body receptive to suggestions to pipe up has been the Board of Adjustment.
For reasons unknown, that seems to draw a more vocal audience that isn't afraid to say, "SPEAK UP!"
That board obliges and holds citizens to the same standard. Step up to the microphone, introduce yourself and state your business so everyone can hear, participants are reminded.
Both the city and county council members have microphones right in front of their faces. Yet, not a single one leans forward, or pulls the microphone toward them to enhance the voice quality.
In a county increasingly made up of aging people, hearing loss is to be expected.
But this age demographic also includes your voters, your active participants and contributors in the civic process, your staunch supporters.
So here's a thought. This fall there are a number of incumbents running for office. Do your voting homework and attend our public meetings.
If they mumble, don't be shy. Tell them to speak up.
Then let Nov. 2 be a mumble-free day at the polls. Vote 'em all out of office. If you can't hear or understand them, how is a voter to assess their job performance other than to throw the switch?
Can you hear us now?