To the Editor:
Governmental dysfunction is Washington, Indianapolis and Shipshewana!?!!?
I was asked by a volunteer firefighter to attend a public meeting that was to be held at the Wolfe Building on 2/19/2014. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Shipshewana Fire Department’s service contract with the townships it serves. I was encouraged to attend and voice my support of the fire department’s request that individual billing for emergency calls be discontinued and that the townships include the approximately $14,000 in their budget appropriations.
I complied and community attendance was very strong.
What became apparent was that appointed (hired) governmental officials and elected officials were not engaged in proper communication and discussion. Those in attendance heard the same language that we hear from Washington and Indy…interpretation of a “take it or leave it” approach vs. an openness to compromise, followed by a claim that communication is needed to attempt compromise!
By the end of the meeting, two comments were made that seemed appropriate:
1. Willie Christner encouraged the government representatives to strengthen their communication skills so that their employers (citizens) do not have to attend a meeting to tell them to get along.
2. Jerry Hostetler encouraged those in attendance to be even more aware of budgetary issues and attend more meetings.
I hope that I summarized Willy’s and Jerry’s positions accurately and do not believe that they necessarily contradict one another.
I encourage all to remember that although it may be an effective tactic, nobody likes to be “blindsided.” Being surprised by the opposition usually leads to frustration and does not foster constructive, well thought debate. With that being stated…I hope that our elected and appointed officials are always prepared and/or open to addressing the concerns of the community.
Irregardless of your position on this specific matter, constructive communication needs to be improved at all governmental levels.