Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dialogue - What A Novel Idea!

Both an editorial and a letter to the editor in today's Coeur d'Alene Press advocated the City Council periodically sitting down with those who have questions and hashing them out. To most people this should be seen as an unnecessary suggestion if one's community has a City Council responsive to the citizens.

I would take the suggestion a step further and suggest a member of the press be present to report on both the questions and the answers. Perhaps one of the recently "laid off" Spokesman reporters could fill the bill with an agreement that both papers would print the results. Certainly there are some among them that would put their journalistic ethics ahead of "brand" loyalty.

I found the climate leading up to the election to be pugnacious on both sides and as a result no one really won. The incumbents and their chosen carry on under the eye of suspicion and the challengers are already being derided and mocked for their unsuccessful runs.

Dialogue. Civil dialogue. Not everyone who questions may be eloquent nor schooled in journalistic expertise. This does not give license to belittle them as people nor their questions or assumptions. Talk with them, not around them. Listen to them, don't just hear them.

Should this actually happen a ray of "sunshine" might actually shine upon the Council and the city. Beats the falsification of Photoshop any day!

2 comments:

Bill McCrory said...

Mari,

One concern I have is the editorial suggested the meetings be held behind closed doors. The Press editorial suggested that would lead to less grandstanding, less posturing, and more productive discussions. That's pretty much the illogic that our Mayor and City Council use here in the City of Expedience - it's just easier and neater to conduct business behind closed doors.

No, I prefer the public's business be conducted in public. That's why Idaho passed its Open Meeting Law. In spite of Coconut Willy's unwillingness to enforce the law as the statute requires, it is still the law. It is not necessary that the public all be allowed to speak in the meetings. The meetings can be held without public comment but with the public present. Talking is good. Talking behind closed doors is bad. Have the meetings open to the public. Televise them on CDA 19. Put copies of the meeting DVDs in the city, county, and NIC libraries.

Rotate the players. We hear from candidates during the election season, but there are other people in the community who are articulate and thoughtful and whose ideas are equally valid. Their voices need to be heard.

Our Mayor and City Council and some department heads at the city would like the rest of us to believe that there are only a few "naysayers" in the community. That perspective would be reinforced if the same faces and voices are the only ones seen and heard. That perspective makes it remarkably easy for the Mayor and City Council to marginalize the viewpoints of those whom they can easily categorize.

No, if there's going to be a public forum, it needs to be accessible to all the public, not just those who have or will be seeking public office.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Bill,

Your point is well taken and I don't mean to suggest that the open meeting laws should set aside. That's why I suggested a member of the press - a free lancer - be present. And both papers would have to agree to print the reporter's observations. Who shows, who doesn't; what's said, what isn't; who grandstands, who doesn't would be reported.

It doesn't have to be the same players all the time either.

It isn't an ideal solution but it needs to start somewhere. What's in place now obviously is not working to anyone's satisfaction.