Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pandering is NOT an aceptable form of Government

Who Do You Think Listens to Citizens' Concerns in
Roanoke County?
Board responses to pleas for transparency in government and responding to citizen concerns.
Paraphrases from recent board meetings follow:
Moore: I worry about  choosing one citizen's rights over another, so' I'll vote NO.
Flora: It's all too vague, so I'll vote NO.
Altizer: If we poll citizens regarding contentious issues, we might not like what we hear (from a previous work session), so I'll vote NO.
Church: Since I'm the fourth vote, I'll be friendly with the suggestion, however, for political capital I'll vote NO.

The Resolution offered by Supervisor Ed Elswick was killed with a resounding NO rather than seeking compromise through mutually acceptable goals. The Resolution was about revising and improving the process of government and, ironically, the current process caused the effort to fail, even though some comments by board members suggested opportunities for improvement.

Lost within the confines of a carefully orchestrated public meeting and "hearing," one wise offering by a Planning Commissioner, to hold a joint work session with the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to give the two bodies an opportunity to discuss proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments, gained NO traction or support. When the same proposal was made earlier in a Planning Commission Work Session, the Staff Director of Planning immediately countered such a proposal by suggesting the Planning Commissioners would be far more effective discussing the amendments one-on-one with their District Supervisors.

The most effective lobbyists exercising control over our elected and appointed officials in local government is our "civil service" staff. They are in near constant communication with their designated employers and establish service to those individuals as their highest priority. Indeed the Board of Supervisors are the people who determine their pay scale and their indispensability.

Our elected and appointed officials are obligated to understand their task of carefully balancing the best interests of our entire community and the individual rights of our citizens including civil servants. The task demands individuals with the wisdom of broad experience in both the public and private sectors as well as those willing to grow as we evolve.