News from Patrick Flynn

Fighting fair

There seems to be something of a drumbeat thrumming with a rhythm criticizing various municipal officials – assessors, attorneys, clerks and the like. I’m not known for being a government apologist, quite the opposite, but I find this trend problematic.

I somehow doubt I’m well thought of in certain municipal circles. Because of my, shall we say, eclectic professional career I ask a lot of questions that make bureaucrats uncomfortable. In short, it’s not terribly easy to shine me on. Indeed, there are a number of former municipal employees who likely only speak my name with four-letter words, or lengthened versions, attached.

But that’s the point – when confronted with something inconsistent with my knowledge base I ask questions. If the answer is sufficient, fine; if not, expect more questions. If the ultimate answer is insufficient (e.g. why can’t you explain why you hid a 100% cost overrun on a project until the accounting folks finally caught you?), you’ve just found your worst enemy. I neither tolerate misconduct in public service nor in private business, and I know both areas pretty well.

At the same time, I am respectful of the fact that the municipality employs a number of very competent professionals who go above & beyond to provide outstanding service to our citizenry and taxpayers. So, getting back to my original point, I similarly get frustrated when observing baseless criticism.

Indeed, just the other day I responded to a neighbor asking why snowplows were operating on her icy, but otherwise snow-free, street. I explained that they use blade extensions to score the ice, thereby improving traction for vehicles and pedestrians. Unlike others my neighbor didn’t pen a column, write a letter to the editor or go on talk radio to vent frustration – she asked the question.

I know, I know; there’s ratings, money and some sort of perverse sense of personal satisfaction in public ranting and conflation of information. I get it. But I don’t like it. If you can’t do the work to ferret out the facts before you vent then more’s the pity. And your argument is unlikely to find favor with those of us who do.



This contribution was made on Monday, 11. January 2016 at 11:37 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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