The citizens who “took over a hearing on the environmental impact of military training and testing off northwest shores in Eureka” (“Citizens take over Navy hearing,” Times-Standard, May 3, Page A2) behaved, in a word, disgracefully. In fact, “took over a hearing” doesn’t really describe the group’s actions; hijacked the hearing better describes what occurred. They either didn’t understand or didn’t care that they were to set neither the agenda nor the format.
In the case of last week’s meeting, the agenda was up to the citizens attending to determine what questions they wanted to ask which expert.
The information the Navy provided before the hearing clearly explained the format. Unfortunately, the take-over group had their own agenda, which was first and foremost to have their own way. Their immature and inappropriate behavior was so disruptive it prevented other citizens from having their questions answered. In fact, the group was so loud and obnoxious that to speak to Navy representatives, we had to ask them to leave their stations so we could hear them. One representative even had to answer questions in the hallway in order to hear and be heard.
The Navy officials we did get to speak to gave us straight answers and provided excellent information. It was clear to the signers of this letter that many citizen concerns from the meetings held in 2010 and 2015 have been addressed by the Navy in a positive way.
However, there were stations and experts that we didn’t get to visit because those who didn’t want to ask questions but merely wanted to be heard wouldn’t accept any format but their own. If those citizens thought they were acting on their freedom of speech, they forgot that their freedom ends where others’ freedom begins. We hope that the so-called activists will understand why others attending the meeting may see them as obstructionists rather than concerned citizens.
Sharolyn Hutton and Leslie Leach reside in Eureka.