On getting things right the first time

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2014

As an editor, I know a thing or two about revisions.

I know they are an inevitable part of any process subject to human error. Mistakes will be made, and the hope is they will be caught before causing any harm. I also know that when revision gets too extensive, sometimes the best thing to do is just to start over.

In government, however, this is rarely done, with revision upon revision piling up and obscuring the original intent of whatever action or legislation is being revised.

Take the Affordable Care Act, for example. The intention behind it was surely a noble one, and I see no reason why a country such as the United States, which generally holds itself up to lofty ideals, should not be able to provide health coverage for all of its citizens. After all, health care for those without insurance is usually funded by taxpayer dollars anyway.

In reality, the many missteps along the way — from its perhaps too-wide scope to its botched rollout and general mishandling — have opened the ACA up to unfettered bashing by its opponents. In fact, during this election cycle many Republicans have used the universal health care act as a rallying cry to voters, many of whom know little about the ACA beyond what is spouted by the talking heads on cable news stations.

As a result, this legislation, conceived as a way to bring a little more parity to a society that finds itself increasingly divided between the haves and have-nots, could ultimately have the effect of sending several more conservatives to Congress.

Regardless of which side of the political spectrum one falls on, candidates should be elected because of what they stand for and do, not merely because of what they oppose.

Mistakes and oversights come in all shapes and sizes, and here in Bogalusa we are now faced with one that could have far-reaching effects on the upcoming election.

Following the 2010 U.S. Census, governments — from D.C. to the smallest hamlet — were tasked with redistricting to fit the new population models. Unfortunately, the city’s redistricting plans were not made known the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office until after qualifying for the Nov. 4 election was complete. The result was that two candidates for Bogalusa City Council were no longer domiciled in the districts in which they qualified.

A lawsuit concerning the matter was filed, and its result could be the postponement of the races for City Council Districts B and C.

According to mayoral candidate Tina Ratliff, who has filed an intervention to the lawsuit, this move could affect races far beyond those for the two City Council districts. Because postponing those two races could cause an inordinate number of people in those districts to stay away from the polls on election day, the results of races both city- and state-wide could be skewed.

Regardless of the outcome, this matter has muddied the political waters, leaving many Bogalusa voters confused about what they will actually be voting on rather than focusing on the candidates and their platforms.

It has also ensured that no matter the winners on election day, some may lose through no fault of their own — and that would be a loss for the entire city and the democratic process in general.

David Vitrano is the general manager and managing editor of The Daily News. He can be reached at david.vitrano@thebogalusadailynews.com.