In an area that has so many wonderful assets, from climate to culture, why is it that our governmental institutions function so poorly? The Clatsop County Commission, the Port of Astoria, the municipal court, local school boards - the list goes on. It seems that at least every week, The Daily Astorian is reporting on another incident of scandal, incompetence, bungled decision-making or malfeasance.

Why is there such a gulf between the good, well-meaning citizens of our local communities - the people who serve in our armed forces, teach our kids or produce great art, music, theater, food, etc. - and the people we elect to represent us? If this were a card game, we would cry "foul," because the fair odds are against so many bad cards being dealt.

What would it take to improve local and regional governance? Our region is blessed with natural resources and cursed with fools in charge of them. The Daily Astorian should be taking the lead in figuring out why this failure in leadership is so pervasive and persistent, and what is required to move us on to a higher level of civic performance and accountability.

Remember: "If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

BARRY PLOTKIN

Astoria