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Opinion: Fire, conflict and loving the Hill

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Last Friday morning I hiked the Ernie Maxwell trail. Near Humber Park I came across a 6-­inch wide ember crater. There were many more black embers easily visible for several hundred yards along that part of the trail.

There’s no doubt Idyllwild was saved from catastrophe during the Mountain Fire, and I’m relieved and grateful.

The recent “paid political” advertisements in this paper are a painful reminder of another long-­burning fire on the Hill, and of a conflict that we all must do a more skillful job to resolve. I spoke to Chief Reitz and two commissioners to resolve my own questions and I hope you will do the same. Conflict seems necessary for change, but responding to either without honest, factual discourse isn’t skillful.

I encourage everyone who feels gratitude for the first responders on the Hill to become even better informed, write a supporting letter to this paper and/or to our elected officials, take the risk of learning the details of the opposing points of view and, if you are comfortable, engage in the discussion of how to best resolve our conflict over Idyllwild Fire Protection District.

The individuals we have elected to serve are willing to take the risk of making tough decisions on our behalf. Some of us may disagree with those choices. Based on 10 years observation of Hill conflict — and participation in it in some cases -— it is my opinion that, as a community, we can no longer afford conflict resolution by public flogging. We are better than that.

Bludgeoning scapegoats might sell papers, but is it worth the cost of ruined reputations and businesses and, by extension, the safety and economy of the Hill? The IFPD conflict means more than whether this paper stays in business in its current tabloid format.

Chief Reitz shared a story with me from his personal experience of a small-town paper in central Oregon that doesn’t do controversy and has a waiting list for paid advertising.

Could the Town Crier more effectively serve both itself and the Hill by resisting the urge to fan a wildfire of necessary conflict and instead promoting the heat and light of honest, factual discourse?

Wm. L. (Bill)
Protzmann
San Diego

Editor’s note: No private businesses were mentioned in any editorials regarding IFPD, a public organization.

Mr. Protzmann was not present at the Town Crier-hosted candidate’s forum meant to promote “the heat and light of honest, factual discourse,” as he stated.

Many voices on this Hill would like to see this matter resolved by adopting CalFire as our local fire department.

We make no effort to stifle views that differ from ours. The Town Crier encourages letters and political advertisements from both sides of issues in support of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech.

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Category: Letters to the Editor

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