01/09/10 — Dialogue rules: The enemy of community progress is silent, backdoor politics

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Dialogue rules: The enemy of community progress is silent, backdoor politics

You might not ever agree with anything Wayne County Commission chairman Jack Best says. In fact, some of what he says might actually make you angry.

But the best part about him -- and others like him -- is that they stir the pot and get people talking.

And more talking, not less, is what we need in this county.

The most dangerous roadblock in a community's development is backdoor politics -- and it is becoming increasingly an issue here and in other places around the country.

The idea is, rather than discussing concerns and dealing with solutions, those who are elected to represent a community decide to do their talking behind the scenes, planting seeds of controversy and disdain anywhere they can find a place for them to take root.

They do not raise issues in public meetings, or approach a problem head-on. Instead, they spark a fire and then sit back and watch it spread -- themselves unscathed. They have agendas, not true concern -- and they are dangerous.

There are issues to be addressed here -- just like there are in other places. But if we are serious about addressing them, what we really need are lots of voices expressing their views and to begin a dialogue that just might generate a solution. You get nowhere if you whitewash a problem just because it is easier than facing it.

And those who speak out need to do it where the public can hear them -- and to say what needs to be said, not offer some laundered version of what they think the voters want to hear.

Now, there will be some people who would rather the boat-rockers just shut up. It is a lot better when the waters are smooth, they think.

But addressing these issues -- and there are plenty to choose from -- is a good way to move forward and to get about making this community better.

There are some who have tried community discussions in the past, with moderate success.

But now is the time to get serious about turning a microscope on the concerns we have as a community -- and getting busy finding solutions.

When a community unites, there is little anyone can do to keep it down.

And when people are brave enough to say what needs to be said -- and to offer their expertise in addressing the concerns -- that is when really strong, vibrant and progressive communities are born.

All we have to decide is what kind of community we want to be.

Published in Editorials on January 9, 2010 11:16 PM