Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

The decision is the message

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Back in the day when Pharaohs ruled the civilized world, decision making was pretty uncomplicated. Make a decision, implement it, move on to the next monument to your greatness. If anyone complained, toss their sorry butt in a slave galley and send them off to fight the Phoenicians.

That sort of simplicity - with the notable exceptions of China and Burma - more or less disappeared after the French Revolution. Making decisions hasn't gotten any easier in the ensuing decades but implementing decisions has really gotten tough. Somewhere along the way, people have developed this unruly desire to be informed of the reasons behind decisions that affect their lives. Worse yet, they kind of expect to be informed before those decisions are implemented. Crikey, what's a leader to do?

Well, if you're the leader of Tiny Town, what you seem to do is get both feet stuck in déjà vuland all over again, and again, and again. The only thing worse than being pilloried for making the wrong decision is being pilloried for making the right decision... because you blew the whole COMMUNICATION thing. I'm losing count of how many times our noble leaders have been hoisted on the petard of miserable communication. Paid parking is just the latest contentious installment of this enduring soap opera.

It doesn't help any that the mayor and council, since their election in November, have been making out like Butch Melamed and the Hole in the Pocket Gang, spilling tax dollars like they had a printing press at muni hall and no real concern for the backlash headed their way. After all, we're hosting the Olympics. Can't be expected to run the town and do that at the same time.

But here's the rub. Paid parking is the right thing to do. You don't know how difficult that sentence was to write. Of course, the way Butch and the Gang have approached it is way, way wrong. How wrong? Let me count the ways.

Let's flashback to late last year. As memory serves, the economy and the municipal budget were on the radar screen during the election. All the candidates for all the positions, with the possible exception of school trustee, made the appropriate bleating noises about fiscal responsibility. But even before their nameplates had been made, they rubber-stamped the decision to spend over a million bucks for a new fire truck. Obediently demurring to the "experts" and invoking burning babies to blunt any critic's attack, they spent big when much of the rest of the town was rebuilding and retreading their old rides.

Before we'd fully recovered from that - and hey, why worry; it was in the capital budget - they dismissed as meaninglessly symbolic a motion to forego their own automatic pay raises. This was a particularly shortsighted decision. The money, in six out of seven cases, was chump change. But the moral high ground they pissed away by passing up this opportunity was, had they been thinking about what was coming down the road, golden.

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