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Don't call it grassroots

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Letting people have their say in the appropriate venue is always a good thing.

If thinking about a certain topic — say an electric utility's requested rate increase in recessionary times — creates a burning feeling in the pit of a citizen's stomach, it's that person's right to speak up.

This especially applies if that regular joe needs to express those thoughts to government bureaucrats.

Concerned citizens being able to speak out is a hallmark of our nation's way of doing things, and it is good — though it's possible that a feeling of diminishing frustration may be the only relief that speaker may get.

A public hearing with a topic likely to cause more heartburn for Southwest Virginians than any other will take place in Rocky Mount on Nov. 19, when the State Corporation Commission considers AEP's requested electricity rate hikes.

It's definitely the right venue for anyone with concerns to be heard.

To make sure those folks get their chance, 10th District Del. Ward Armstrong, who represents a portion of Carroll County, has chartered a bus to leave from Hillsville and stop in two other communities along the way so people can get to the forum and make their desires known.

Armstrong knows there are motivated people out there and wants to help them talk to the right ears. Basically, it seems like the delegate is doing people a favor by lining up transportation.

But — one little quibble — don't call it "grassroots."

Grassroots pertains to citizens spontaneously getting involved and working towards a goal on their own volition.

On the national scene, there have been numerous examples of partisans being bused in by interest groups to frustrate town hall meetings, where at least a few people wanted to have real communication. That's not to say this is anywhere near as obnoxious.

Certainly, whatever the speakers say at the SCC hearing will be the democratic expression of the public sentiment.

It serves a positive purpose in this case, but whatever organizers want to call it, the bus trip is still an example of political theater, not a grassroots movement.