Petrified politics

33

“I am as frustrated with society as a pyromaniac in a petrified forest.”

A. Whitney Brown, American writer and comedian

During the Windham town council workshop of 7 March one of the three agenda items was communications. I must state that it was pretty interesting discussion because it is a subject I have written about in the past. Before I go any deeper, I won’t hesitate to make the point that the discussion doesn’t mean any communications matters were really solved. You see, the really interesting solution for the town councilors is to somehow work together for a common solution when personal differences and politics come into play. I have learned with experience through the years that what works in the field of private business might not work so well in government.

First of all, it is good to hear Windham town councilors having a discussion about communicating with the citizens of Windham. At the same time, they must also include the Windham town manager in their solution, whatever that might end up being. Communications with the citizens of Windham by both the town manager and town council is a continuing problem that needs to be fixed. Recently the town Planning Office held a meeting in North Windham about the North Windham business district. I was shocked when someone stated that there was a significant turnout of around 30 people. Wait a minute, 30 people out of something over 17,000 citizens and maybe even closer to 18,000? Some surveys in the past haven’t done much better than that.

Windham has quite an eclectic mix of population and I think it is more than obvious some will never mix with other groups and very well might not even come close to desire such a thing. During the town council discussion it became obvious that there are groups that have more citizens communicating with their group members than the Town of Windham has with its website. I am not suggesting that better communications can even be accomplished because people tend to be connected to what they are interested in. Maybe that means other groups are not interested in town politics and maybe it doesn’t. So here are some suggestions for the town councilors to start with if they are truly interested in connecting citizens of Windham with their town government.

Why is the town council agenda published on the town’s website the Friday before the council’s meeting of the following Tuesday? Can’t our town leaders be more forward-looking than that?

Second, let’s televise the leadership meeting between the town council chair, vice chair and the town manager so that citizens can see how our town leaders decide what’s on the agenda for the next council meeting. I will bet $1 million of taxpayers’ money that will never happen, because that it one of the major problems that exists with the leadership of Windham and nothing will be solved until changes are made. Trust me, I do not believe that the problem stems from any town councilor, except for the fact that they might just be weak in their leadership abilities. Or, I should leave that to a later discussion as to who is really in charge.

The councilors’ discussion of using Facebook and similar technology was interesting, but the hardest part about communicating with Windham residents involves the citizens of Windham themselves. If they are not interested in how their local, or even state or federal governments operate, can such communication even take place? I doubt it, because I have been involved for years, as many already know, and there are those that will always live in their own world, and it’s not like that’s a bad thing at all.

I want to thank Windham Town Councilor Maxfield for bringing up the subject of the communications between the town councilors and the citizens of Windham. A surprising answer might just be in the complaints with Code Enforcement.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham knows that his town councilors have a communications problem, and it’s obvious when only two town councilors attended a meeting like the recent one held for River Road improvements.