Wednesday, December 12, 2018


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Better than Criticism

            In less than two weeks voters will go to the polls.  For those who feel that the political divide in our nation is wide, I invite you to read the nearly two-dozen letters to the editor in today's edition of the Town and Country.

            The chasm here isn't narrow either.

            It is hard to recollect the last time so many submitters offered so many opinions leading up to a local election.  Some agree – some disagree.  But, they all have an opinion.

            All local, elected officials and even appointed and hired administrators need to take a look at what went wrong and why people feel the way they do.  How can so many people be wrong and so many people be right on the same subject?

            Why are so many people divided on just what the correct answer is to a growing number of local issues?

            Perhaps, it's the way it was presented to the public in the first place.

            Poor planning, too many executive sessions, holding public meetings at inconvenient times for people to attend, failing to share public information, the perception – or reality of – speeding up the process to keep the public from asking questions or offering alternatives, making unrealistic demands on a public you have promised to serve, assuming everyone will back you because of the title you hold – take your pick or add your own.

            When someone asks you a question, to which the answer is obviously public information, and you or your solicitor demands that you file a "Right to Know" request is a mistake.  Because, instead of seeking an answer to a simple question, you'll be asked for all the associated documents.

            That seems like a waste of time and taxpayer money, and certainly opens the door for asking more questions than if you just would have answered the question.

            It also begs the question – why didn't you just answer it in the first place?  Perhaps it was just your attempt to make it harder for the public to obtain information they were entitled to in the first place.

            Rolling out information to the public on multi-million dollar projects should be done while the project is still in its inception.  Public hearings can be helpful to get your message out and listen to, and answer, questions.  It could also lead to your own learning process that might lead to a better project.  For example, how many folks changed their minds on the new Upper Perkiomen Middle School after they took the tour of the old one?  Should those tours have occurred last year, before contracts were signed?

            Share information with the pubic and do the business of the people in front of the people, every time (with the exception of legally allowed items only – and know the difference), on-time, and in a timely manner.   

            Their feedback to you or their understanding of a project at the beginning can be better than their criticism at the end.





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