Public participation is essential to government

Public participation is essential to government

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Senator Chuck Schumer is taking wireless network companies to task for poor service in areas of Long Island. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Kudos to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for working to improve the quality of life for Long Islanders. He recently submitted a list of more than 200 “dead zones” for cellphones on the Island to both the Federal Communications Commission and to wireless service providers and told them in no uncertain terms to get their act together. Long Island is a heavily populated area, and we deserve better coverage.

Schumer gathered his list of problem spots with the help of folks who know where they are. He established a page on his Senate website specifically for reporting poor service areas and invited residents to provide the information.

Many of us have our own mental catalog of places where our cell phones are useless, and we try to work around those dead zones.

But what if we can’t work around them? What if something happens to us in a place where there is poor service? What if you need assistance right now but have no way of obtaining it?

Sadly, we were not surprised when our requests for comments from the wireless carriers were mostly met with silence.

Just last weekend, we needed access to the many storm bulletins and the latest news in order to decide if we should stay or evacuate as Tropical Storm Hermine threatened our shores.

Our cell phones are no longer just fun accessories. They are necessities that keep us in touch and help to facilitate our lives. So we believe that Schumer is right. It’s not okay for carriers to just woo us with fabulous coverage claims. They must provide service everywhere we need it.

While we think it’s terrific that 200 plus dead zones will hopefully be addressed by the service providers, it leaves us to wonder — what about all the others? As our editorial staff read over the list, we all thought of spots in our neighborhoods that weren’t on the list, but should be.

But this is on us. We didn’t contribute to this poll. As helpful as Schumer’s plan is, it won’t solve the problem unless we too get involved.

We’re sure President John F. Kennedy (D) had bigger problems in mind when he asked the country what it can do for its government. But it fits perfectly in local cases just like this.

Our local government can only help us as much as we help it.