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Communication equals trust

Register • Jun 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

My topic this week is about the January government classes attended by elected officials.

Back in January the City Commissioners enrolled in a nine week government class with the taxpayer picking up some of the expense. The class was taught by BGSU Firelands Educational Outreach. It was offered to all the elected officials and others who were interested in the class. Every one of the city commissioners attended the class except for one commissioner who had a previous commitment.

You can judge the results for yourself by leaving your own comments as to whether or not you think the commissioners showed any improvement after the class concluded. Highlights of the lessons taught were the following:

Creating an environment of trust while maintaining a high ethical standard.

How do you gain trust when nothing is being discussed publicly? Most officials will not speak to the newspaper. At the last commission meeting, there was no discussion of old business or new business. Two weeks had passed since the last meeting and the commissioners had no further business to discuss? Leadership cannot be judged unless the commissioners start to exhibit public input as to where they stand on certain issues.

Ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and efficiently.

The debt keeps growing without the debt ever being addressed. The city continues to restructure old debt while taking the opportunity to add new debt at the same time. Are dollars being spent wisely?

Engaging in effective communication with colleagues and residents while developing relationships with the press.

It seems city officials are punishing the newspaper by not communicating with the press instead of sitting down with the Register to iron out their differences and print corrections, if needed. Officials claim that the Register is reporting incorrectly, but they won’t call and get things straightened out so they can co-exist. The battle between the two keeps news away from the public. Since the condition has lasted so long, I have to wonder if blaming the paper for not getting it right isn’t an excuse for the commissioners to continue to shut down the flow of information.

As for communicating with colleagues, some commissioners’ communications are insensitive and unprofessional as displayed in the recent commissioners’ correspondence that the Register released for publication. Instead of trying to get the best of each other, try to stay focused on leadership and the job at hand.

Until next week, shutting down the flow of information is never a good idea. One example is the trailer park story. The commissioners have never discussed the situation at the commission table for the residents to get some idea of what kind of information is available to them until it was too late. How did the trailer park situation become so out of control over the years without addressing the problem?

Editor's note: The Register has sought to address every concern raised by commissioners or other city officials and publishes corrections when any information is found to be inaccurate.

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