Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is meant by "getting political?"

Another local blogger is suggesting that the Finance Advisory Board is "getting political."  What exactly does that mean?  First of all, the City Commission is elected through a political process.  "Politics" are defined roughly as getting things done through a governmental process.  Through politics, we express our opinions.  People appointed to advisory boards are meant to offer their opinions on issues faced by the city related to their specific board's function.

What I have found is that the term "getting political" in Lake Worth is usually used as a negative epithet.  Part of why we appoint people, also a political process by the way, to an advisory board is to solicit their unique perspectives based upon where they live, their professional experience and their intelligence.  Suddenly we hear about a board or someone "getting political" in Lake Worth when that person's or board's opinion may be at odds with the current policy promulgated by the Commission or the administration.  Some times, the independent thought that can occur at these advisory board meetings is the first indication that there may be a problem.  Advisory boards can act as "guard rails" around a sharp curve or a noisy inversion of a canary in a coal mine.  Anything should be game for discussion as it relates to input necessary for better policy decisions in the future.  This is the strength of independent thought and is something that should be encouraged.

What many would like to have is a series "rubber stamp" advisory boards that don't question policies or directions in which the city is headed.  See the previous post on political machines.  We are not served well as a community when opinions of those on appointed boards can be predicted based upon who appointed them or whose campaign they worked on.  I remember hearing the complaint from Commissioner Golden that, while I was on the CRA, the "bashing" of the Commission had to stop.  Well, it may have, but is the city better for it?

So, my message to anyone on an appointed board in Lake Worth is to not worry about "getting political" - instead focus on having original thought and be capable of expressing the results of your critical thinking.  Many times it is not the answer that counts but the asking of the right question that is important.