Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Judge a Man by His Questions Rather than His Answers

The last meeting of what is now the "old" City Council will happen this coming Monday and with it, perhaps an opportunity to reopen the City Charter, the operator's manual if you wish, to create a process and a product for the new City Council to own.

If you haven't yet visited the city's website to offer your ideas on areas in the charter that could be improved, it's pretty easy and very quick. You already have a good idea of what the object of the exercise is supposed to look like, so what you're really doing is working on questions of procedure rather than philosophy. And if you're not comfortable on line, be in Council chambers Monday night and voice your ideas in person.

Once we agree on the basic functions of government, and here's a few areas where I think we already can see eye-to-eye: public education, public safety, emergency services, infrastructure, and utilities, we can expand and/or concentrate on related areas to create an environment of excellence in which we, as a community, can better thrive and succeed.

How we do those tasks we view as 'our government' is what the city charter is all about-it tells us and everyone who would do business with us, from new residents to new businesses, 'these are the rules of the game' so everyone going in knows what  the results should be coming out. Until surprise makes the periodic table of elements, there's no need for it to make an appearance at City Hall.

Sometimes there's mutterings and murmurings about a Norwich for insiders whose workings seem to be very different from the city in which the rest of us live. We've all heard that but that doesn't make it true unless you choose to believe it. A lot of times, we don't know what we don't know and if you think a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, just imagine how much damage ignorance can do.

That's why, be it on an as-needed or on an as-scheduled, basis sometimes it's best to take "The Charter" (capital letters deliberate) off the shelf, set aside the reverence for history and habit we always have for things that have stood the test of time, and visit with one another to examine areas and practices that we may discover we have concerns or questions about.

You can choose to not ask a question, that's your right, but understand that by so doing you then cannot complain when you don't like the answer.
-bill kenny

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