04/13/05 — Be squeaky now: Citizens can have big impact on base-closing decisions

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Be squeaky now: Citizens can have big impact on base-closing decisions

You might not hear about it in the news every day.

After all, there are other, more immediate concerns to talk about right now.

But if you think that there is nothing to discuss yet about the soon-to-be-released list of potential military base closures, you are mistaken.

Now is the time to start letting your legislators know that you are watching, waiting and are deeply concerned. The old adage that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” has never been more appropriate.

There is no question the base closure list is a concern for every North Carolina legislator — even if he or she does not have a military installation in his or her district.

What we have to make sure of now is that those who will make the decision in Washington, D.C., know North Carolina voters are keeping a close eye on the decision-making process.

If we want to keep our bases in the state, and especially the first-class facility we have in Wayne County, we shouldn’t be relying on our state legislators to get the message to the federal officials who are preparing the list. We need to get our fingers typing and our phones dialing.

State officials will remind the Pentagon about the support military personnel and bases receive in North Carolina towns. They will have the statistics and the pictures. They already have lobbyists working to make sure North Carolina interests are represented as the discussions about closures continue.

But even that might not be enough.

What we need now is a good, old-fashioned grassroots campaign. Politicians respond when they know someone is watching. Let’s make sure they know the people of Wayne County are.

If you want to send an e-mail, start with www.firstgov.gov, the federal government’s official Web portal. There, you will find links to all the right people. If you want to write a letter, send it to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000. And if you would just like to send a letter of support for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, drop a note to Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael L. Dominguez, 1670 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1670.

And, of course, it never hurts to remind your senators and congressmen that you are watching. If you want to write them, they include Sen. Richard Burr, 217 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 and Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510; and U.S. Reps. G.K. Butterfield, 105 S. Douglas St., Suite 201, Wilson, NC 27893 and Walter B. Jones, 422 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Published in Editorials on April 13, 2005 9:56 AM