OMG! Observing our local city and county elected officials interacting and trying to negotiate with one another is not a pretty sight. Sometimes, and all too often, they appear to be engaged in what resembles cage fighting. Brash, ruthless, violent and bloody with combatants battling for that all or nothing knock out. For us bystanders, another name for taxpaying residents, all we can do is shake our heads in dismay and wonder if Cumberland County has been developed over an ancient sacred Indian burial ground and we have been forever cursed for this unholy desecration. One must ask themselves, is this tendency for unpleasantness, weak, self-centered, selfish and uncooperative leadership really a curse? Is it in our DNA or is it actually a learned behavior handed down from generation to generation?
Well, personally I believe it is a little bit of everything, but more of the latter. In my quest to find out why our local governments have such difficulty in cooperating, communicating and respecting each other, I have uncovered some words, terms and phrases all too frequently used in conversations when elected government officials are gathered together. So common are some of these that they have actually morphed into taking on their own specialized and customized meaning. And, that is where I think the real problem lies. You can be the judge of that. Even the most effective and respected elected officials and community leaders are sensitive to these terms and many know how to use and deal with them when they arise. This precarious glossary of terms and definitions is commonly referred to as the BS Chart and just may be the main source of the communication breakdown in our community. Here are a few examples. Again, you can be the judge. If you are a community leader or an elected city or county official, take heed of the ...
Glossary (BS Chart) of Governmental Words, Phrases and Actions
Collaboration: We are meeting. We are talking. We may even spend thousands of dollars on a consultant, but our minds are pretty much made up.
Compliance: We must play by their rules or get our funding yanked.
General Welfare: We know what you need, we tell you what you want, and don’t worry, it will never make fiscal sense.
Cultural: We want government money under the cloak of diversity.
Diverse: Usually, depends on who is using it. This usually means the color, religion, gender and orientation of the person talking.
Good ol’ Boys: Yeah, we know each other, but, that doesn’t mean we like each other.
Elitist: Them people with influence and money.
My people-Your people: Uh, Oh! Conversation is becoming racial … regardless of your color.
Social Justice: We are going to riot if you don’t give us what we want.
Poverty: You should start feeling guilty.
Advisory Board: We really don’t care what you think.
Donut Hole: Ooops! My bad.
Partner with: We can get more money if we work together
At risk: They are going to jail soon.
Common Good: When we can’t justify the expense. This is the way you justify going after government grants and other funds.
Quality of Life: See above.
Reclassification: Giving a job a new name to justify a higher salary.
Innovation: It’s above your head and you just wouldn’t understand.
Monitoring: We have the responsibility to do this …. but, we don’t.
Strategic Plan: The old plan did not work so we need to create a “new” plan to justify our existence.
Staffing and Retention: We want more money.
Working Poor: We can’t give them anything because they have a job. We can’t help them because we are too concerned with the slugs out there doing nothing and collecting government checks.
Well, I think you get my point. Surely, those career politicians do. In conclusion, my advice to all city and county elected officials is that when you must come together, assemble together with a friendly, wholesome and productive attitude. Stay open-minded. Be free of bias and judgement. Then, during your negotiations or conversations, if you hear any of the above words or phrases used in any combination more than four or five times, just get up and politely excuse yourself and leave the room. Little will be accomplished.
On a more serious note, Cumberland County is on the grow. Opportunities abound and every community and township has a vested interest in our future success. Let’s put our energies into moving Fayetteville and Cumberland County forward. This cannot be done with words and phrases … only actions. We support this progress, and we support all those who are trying to make this a great community.
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.