Voting ‘power’ has lost luster

During a presentation last week on trust and the media by Mark Kiyak, the assistant communications professor at Fredonia State University offered a reminder on why our business as a local newspaper is so vital.

“Democracy depends upon media. … The idea here is that knowledge is crucial … knowledge is power,” he said, beginning his presentation to The League of Women Voters at the White Inn in Fredonia touching on the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech, Kiyak noted, pertains to individuals. “Regardless of what it is you might think or believe, you have the right to get up on a soapbox and scream it out so anyone can hear it,” he said.

That freedom also comes with the right for a belief to be unpopular or discounted. But no matter how insignificant – or incorrect – the belief is, it is allowed in the United States of America. Those living in some other countries do not receive that same privilege and can be punished for saying something that is not in line with its government.

Many in this country speak of their First Amendment rights, but take it for granted when it comes time to decide on the issues.

That reflects in our voting number. As a nation, they are a disappointment. On an even more local level, a good turnout is considered to be about 200 residents casting a ballot in a town or village.

Even today – with the additional social media options – apathy is apparent. “The media was formed so we can talk about things … so that you become an informed voter,” he said. “The more you know, the more informed as a voter you become.”

How much do voters really know today when casting a ballot? Usually, it just comes down to the party.

More than two centuries ago, that is not how the system was designed to work.

What does a red “Town of Villenova” pickup with a snowplow attached have in common with Church Street in the village of Fredonia?

We do not know, but it was seen at that location during the lake-effect snowstorm that hit our area at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. A call to one Villenova official was met with surprise and no explanation as to why the truck would be outside of its jurisdiction, especially if it was not for town business.

A better scenario would have been having that red pickup actually in Villenova plowing roads early Tuesday evening.

In any case, the truck’s trip has the appearance of a town vehicle being driven for personal use. In this economy – when every cent counts, that is not acceptable.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to or call 366-3000, ext. 401.