UP -- We are fans of public involvement and there were two items in the news this week that deserve your attention. First, the Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is asking for input on a master plan that officials say could reshape the city. Department director Cory Styron says the input will be used to set priorities. Also this week, candidates for public office filed the paperwork required to run for a multitude of public offices that will have significant power to shape the lives of people in San Juan County and its cities and towns. If you care about your community, here is your opportunity to have a say. And, as the saying goes, if you don't participate you really shouldn't be complaining about outcomes you don't like.
DOWN -- Two more people were charged in relation to a Dec. 15 fatal shooting. The man and woman, both in their 20s, are accused of trying to cover up the crime that occurred after a disagreement at a birthday party. Two others have been arrested on the same charge and another man is charged with the murder. After the shooting police say six people loaded the body into a Dodge Durango and then drove to a remote area and dumped it. Numerous people reportedly were arriving and leaving from the party through the evening and police are still investigating. Police apparently found out about the murder when the victim's sister saw it "all over Facebook." We don't understand how so many people can witness such a horrific event and think the right thing to do is to get rid of the evidence or make a Facebook post.
UP -- The brass letters "A" and "Z" from a boat believed to belong to the U.S.S. Arizona , which was sunk at Pearl Harbor during a 1941 attack by the Japanese military, evoke powerful feelings. Those letters bring back the memory of the more than 1,000 officers and crewmembers who gave their lives on that early December day. We think it is a great public service that Farmington resident Kelly McClellan, who inherited the letters from his father, understands their importance and has donated them to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum and Visitor Center.
DOWN -- San Juan County commissioners met this week to talk about harsh realities that could end up requiring significant cuts in services and/or tax increases. The county stands to lose federal funding from the "payment-in-lieu" of taxes program and state funding as the "hold harmless" payments are phased out. The federal program is meant to replace property taxes that local governments cannot collect on federal land. "Hold harmless" was created to reduce the impact of exempting medical and food expenses from the gross-receipts tax. Both of these are directly or indirectly caused by the push to cut budgets at all levels. People don't like paying taxes, but services -- including roads, law enforcement and firefighting -- cost money. People also like to believe there's a lot of fat in the system, but that usually has to do with the things other people get. These budget cuts are going to push the hard decisions to the local level. If you don't want to pay more taxes, what are you willing to do without?