Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stakeholders and owning the governing process

There was a time a few years ago when a Town Board Meeting had an audience of maybe three to five people.  Jack Conway, Ann Taylor, me and sometimes Rick Matters and Bonnie Lester.  No sign of Mr. Langley, Mr. Gilbert or Mr. DeFruscio - ever.  Citizen involvement grew with CARES and The STORY of EG, and massive amounts of work was done by lots of people in exposing the mischief of the last administration which contributed in large part to its demise.  Ethics reform would not have happened without the effort of citizen stakeholders.  There's a long list.  To try to control the relationships and contacts of this active group is to invite defeat.  Jack put it well in referring to the taking of a scalp.

It’s becoming clear that the new administration knows that it has a marketing and public relations problem.  But their way of addressing it is making the problem worse.  Mr. Langley and his assistants have been “aiming” at the very people who created the context which made it possible for Langley, Matters and DiMartino to be elected.  And the attempts at demanding loyalty rather than earning loyalty began over two years ago.  It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.  Some of the attempts at “control” have put a face on the administration that even the most insensitive ham-handed politician would run from.  Attempting to control contacts between friends and colleagues in the name of “loyalty” is bizarre.  The administration should be working to demonstrate “loyalty” to those who put it in place, not demanding loyalty from stakeholders. 

And then there’s the “Attack Blog” – EGDemands.  How libelous attacks and cartoons bordering on the pornographic supports a positive image of the administration is beyond comprehension. 

We learned from Dwight Jenkins’ interview with Mr. Langley what the Supervisor’s agenda was.  And that’s supposed to be it?  The fact is that a couple other people created the Majority, at least in part based on promises published in the Advertiser during the campaign.  That majority was created by the voters who are stakeholders. 

When advice comes to a leader only from those who agree with him or behave as sycophants, leaders paint themselves into a corner and cannot lead.  This is particularly dangerous for those who have absolutely no experience in governing a municipality.  They should be welcoming and inviting questions and good counsel.  Not to do so creates suspicion, not confidence. 

I know for a fact that over two years ago the advice was offered that there should have been a transition TEAM made up of stakeholders to fashion a workable agenda and implementation timetable.  This is possible even for a minority.  This advice was rejected and replaced by the “loyalty” and “refrain from associating” demands.  Well, now there is a majority.  And there is still time ……