Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All Politics is Local

And other rules of the game…
by Charlie Leck

Now, the big national election is over. So, it’s time for a political junkie to take a break. Right?


Ten months from now we’ll have a very important local election here in my town. This is where one really feels the startling impact of politics – right here at the local level. Things are not very good here, at that level, right now. As a matter of fact, they kind of stink to high heaven.

Here’s a good indicator of the problem. Our city depends on capable citizens to fill its elective and appointed positions. Right now there are openings on our Parks and Trails Commission and we can’t get one single person to volunteer to serve.

Our Planning Commission also had a recent opening. The elected City Council usually gets a number of volunteers to choose from for a position like that. This time, only one person offered to sit on that commission.

This is not a good situation. As a matter of fact, it’s a very bad circumstance.

A major part of the problem is that we’ve got a stinking bad City Council right now. There are three cowboys serving on the council who rule fiercely and reign proudly as libertarians. They get recommendations from their Planning Commission – recommendations upon which there have been hearings and to which that Commission has given serious thought – and the elected Council all too frequently dismisses those recommendations and rules otherwise. That sets a bad tone. It gets Planning Commissioners disappointed and angry. This is why it’s difficult to get people to serve.

These three cowboys also make the atmosphere at meetings pretty unsettling. They’re loud and rude and pretty much stifle discussion. They aren't open to opinions that disagree with their own and they discourage public comment. That’s no way to run local politics!

In addition, we have extremely bad communications with neighboring cities right now. That’s too bad. We were formerly pretty good at that. However, these cowboy City Council members are arrogant and rude and closed minded. One can’t communicate with a closed-minded person. One of the rules of good communications is to be open-minded.

We’ve got a good Mayor in my town, but his hands are tied right now. For years he’s had wonderful relationships with surrounding communities. The ruling cowboys have made the Mayor pretty powerless in terms of working with our neighbors.

This is local politics at its worst. As the famous Tip O’Neill pointed out, this is where politics is most important because this is where we who live in this town feel the impact of poor decisions.

So, we’ve got to get things squared away here. We need some gentlemen and ladies to serve our city. Be gone with the cowboys! We have the opportunity to get rid of one of them this fall anyway! We need bright, polite, open and considerate men and women to step forward as candidates.

We must find some willing folks right away and then we have to step up and support them with all our might.

O’Neill, Tip: All Politics is Local, And other rules of the game [1994 Times Books, NY, 1993]

1 comment:

  1. Jim, a local, tried to post this comment, but said he ran into too many password blocks. Too bad. Easy thing is to just create a Google account and it becomes super simple. Here's the comment he emailed to me:

    "I couldn't agree with you more. One reason the City can't get people to volunteer is that, as in the instance of the Open Spaces committee, the council threw out two years of the committee's hard work. This is a leadership problem and unless we get serious about changing it, the loudest voices will dominate."