Local Government - Solving Problems
by: Al Arnold
"Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." John Kenneth Galbraith
Oh, how true! When you have a problem in your personal life, does your options for solving that problem come down to the “lesser of two evils?” Probably so. If your options for solving your problem are good or excellent choices, you don't have a problem, you have an opportunity.
Same in local government. When local government has a “problem” the choices they have are the “lesser of two evils.” Or, as Mr. Galbraith would say “between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”
It is truly unfortunate that local elected officials do not admit this, when discussing problem issues in public. This dilemma is certainly discussed in private between individuals involved in the decision making process. But, it is rare when a local official publicly states that the problem they are facing has no good solution. The options available consist between “the disastrous and the unpalatable.”
On top of that, add into the equation that elected local government officials who are making these decisions, are amateurs. Amateurs make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. So when choosing between those “lesser of two evils” they can often choose the worst of the choices.
Run government like a business! How many times have we heard, or maybe even said that?
How many businesses do you know, when looking for a new member for their Board of Directors throw the position open to amateurs, with absolutely no experience? Or, do they look for the best, most experienced person they can find to help guide them into the future?
Is it any wonder that some local governments bumble along? Is it any wonder that John Q. Public gets disenfranchised with the system?
We know that problems aren't going to go away. We also know we aren't going to change the way local elected officials are hired. Is there anything that can help this process along?
Yes, there is. The solution involves you, your friends and your neighbors. You may find this solution "unpalatable."
1) Involvement. Citizen Involvement. Citizens need to go to meetings. You need to go to meetings.
2) Citizens need to be there to give support and encouragement to these rank amateurs who are attempting to do their best under very difficult conditions. They are doing a job that must be done by someone.
3) Citizens who may have expertise on particular issues need to give their constructive input before the decisions are made ... not after.
Local elected officials universally lament the fact that citizens avoid attending meetings where their input is not just invited, but needed. These local officials also acknowledge the fact that they are amateurs and do not have the experience on many issues, that they need to make decisions.
Silence by citizens can be deafening, and destructive.
Your local government needs you to become involved!
Copyright 2006 Al Arnold