Your Opinion: Leaders must take time to listen, deliberate
Friday, August 17, 2012
I enjoyed the recent News Tribune editorial, “Leadership needed in municipal government.”
One point made was that “public input must be invited and included every step of the way.” This is good. Public input, however, has recently been minimized by changes in City Council procedures. “Presentations from the Gallery” have had their times cut short. They used to be five minutes, now they are limited to three minutes. Presentations on topics not related to specific bills or resolutions have been pushed back toward the end of the meeting. These changes need to be re-examined.
Public testimony takes time. Many people are happy when a council meeting is over in less than one hour. Many people are happy when there is little or no debate. Is this good?
A few years back there was a lot of negative discussion about “gridlocks” in the Missouri Legislature. Bills seemed to move forward too slowly. Most people thought that this was bad. Retired Senator Larry Rohrbach thought otherwise: “I think that a little bit of gridlock is good.”
Gridlock slows the legislative process. Gridlock gives time for alternative views to be brought forward.
The opposite of gridlock is “railroading.” Sometimes immediate action is demanded. A sense of emergency is created. Any time a salesman tells you that you must decide now, watch out! This is a favorite sales closing. Do we want decisions forced upon us or do we want to have time to consider them deliberately?
Public input is essential. If public input slows things down, good. Remember, “An undebated bill is not worth passing.”