By editorial board • 

Finding reason to harbor hope may prove useful start point

Pardon us if we seem to be discovering a dollop of hope where there is none, or ginning up a modicum of optimism when none is warranted, but we thought we detected some encouraging echoes of meaningful dialogue is some recent city, county and school sessions.

The most recent example came at a county board of commissioners get-together on long-festering park and trail issues. It featured a pair of remarkably direct and civil exchanges between board chair Lindsay Berschauer and Dundee residents Peter Siderius and Allen Holstein.

It pains us to take exception to our own headline, but Siderius and Holstein did not seem to be “chiding,” a synonym for scolding or rebuking.

We’ve chided the commissioners on multiple occasions ourselves, and it didn’t appear the remarks from the two gentlemen from Dundee actually rose to that level. In fact, we found them rather restrained in substance and temperate in tone.

Nor do we feel justified in scolding or rebuking Berschauer for the fashion in which she responded. Our report suggests she engaged in a series of exchanges commendably free of rancor.

So often, interaction between public bodies and their constituents ends up constrained in the straitjacket of quasi-judicial hearing formats.

Members of the public body are counseled not to accept any input, express any opinion or engage in any dialogue, either in private or public, until it comes time for them to deliberate toward a decision in the company of their colleagues. Their constituents are limited to addressing legal fine points in two-minute oral snippets or pages of bureaucratic gobbledygook, both of dubious impact.

Here, in contrast, we had two ordinary folks posing some widely shared questions and getting answers that were at least responsive. If nothing else, they succeeded in demonstrating genuine local interest in public park and trail amenities, and apparently being heard.

We also took heart in a pair of recent city council meetings, one held in consort with the McMinnville School Board, the other with the McMinnville Water & Light Commission.

Lobbing long-range salvos from well-entrenched outposts comes naturally and easily when differences arise.

Exchanging barbs face-to-face across a shared conference table does not. Protagonists feel socially constrained to adopt at least a veneer of civility.

The city has historically enjoyed good relations with the school district, but has found its relations with the local utility provider frayed, particularly of late. So the productive air-clearing session between the council and commission struck us as particularly encouraging.

The two parties engaged in a frank exchange of differing views but, with the help of a mediation service, managed to do so in a constructive manner that seemed to put the relationship on firmer footing going forward.

If our form of government is going to continue working for us, we need people on all sides to demonstrate good faith, fair dealing, a willingness to listen and an ability to respond constructively.

We’ve had enough invective, ideology and posturing to last a lifetime. It’s getting us nowhere.



Then maybe the rhetoric in the day to day reporting regarding the commissioners could be dialed back a bit.


If the commissioners cease their incessant ideological posturing, we'll be more than happy to accommodate them. Just same plain old-fashioned serving the constituents would certainly be a welcome change — dramatic but welcome.

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