Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 97. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:34 PM for 15h 19m 13s of daytime. The moon is full with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.
Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.
On this day in 1775, the Continental Army is established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Armed Forces.
Many of Whitewater’s current challenges have no partisan or ideological cause. It’s not a matter of Republicans, Democrats, independents, etc. These problems are not a matter of left, center, or right. They are, instead, a matter of becoming inured to poor performance and poor results. Government delivers less, while either pretending that it is delivering more, or blaming residents for mistakes and controversies, for which those residents are not responsible.
Troubled communities remain troubled when they give up discussing, debating, and demanding better. These unfortunate places — victims of their own sloth and malaise — descend still lower. They become inured to failure and disappointment.
A story about Whitewater’s police department is about more than one set of allegations, or different sets of allegations. It’s not normal for a small town to go so long without a permanent police chief. It’s not normal for the public to know nothing about a supposed public investigation that’s carried on for seven months. That’s treating abnormal as normal, and expecting residents to accept that sad situation. (Key point: I don’t ‘dislike’ policing. Defunding the police, for example, has always seemed a clumsy idea to me. Rather, the city government needs a well-ordered department within a community that’s well-informed about news both good and bad. When a community hears both good and bad, residents will not overreact to either.)
It’s not normal for a school district to come through the controversies of a once-in-a-century pandemic only to have worse commotions after the pandemic. These aren’t complaints about national ideological topics, they are chronic local complaints, month after month, about a local administration. It was not normal to respond to those complaints with a seven-minute, prepared board statement before public comment even began. There is both arrogance and ignorance in thinking that approach would work. (It did not: the 5.24.22 board statement only brought more concerns at the 6.7.22 board meeting.)
It’s not normal to have a small city government that underestimates the cost of a dredging project by millions, the cost of a lift station by a million, while remaining silent on the status of its police department, and explaining little about its plans for its fire department.
It’s not normal for a small public university to have so many complaints over so many years about sexual harassment and assault (indeed, to be named as one of only 100 universities like this in the nation).
These are local problems of local administration. Whitewater’s residents are not less capable than the residents of other places. They deserve public institutions and officials that do not treat abnormal as normal.
Yellowstone National Park closes after ‘unprecedented’ rain, flooding:
THis is probably good advice that no one in the city/school district is gonna accept. They will think its not serious or some kind of trick.They all think that the best thing is to avoid the public. Plus, at this point half of them would not know what to say anyhow. But yeah you have a point.
Appointed public leaders of the city, school district, or university should be able and willing to engaged in extended public discussion with residents. Not only council members, board members, or subordinates, but full-time appointed leaders of these public institutions. That’s not too much to ask of professionals in their professional work. Matter-of-fact replies to topics: points 1, 2, 3 … and so on.
From there, a dialogue begins.
No dialogue, no improvement.
do you think whitewater will get to normal
Yes. We’re part way there, although it may not seem so. The rest of the way will involve a hard slog, and past will still be prologue for the near future, but we’ve a fair chance of better if we press on. By the way, I may be libertarian, but that does not mean that I think a normal city requires some sort of libertarian haven. Not at all. It’s enough to be one voice in a community, and to express one’s views freely. There’s a moral difference between expressing one’s views forcefully and expecting (or worse, insisting) on agreement.
John,. Could you give your opinion, with specific position titles, how improvement can start? It seems no one person knows what to do, school or city. Where does community begin?
Let me start with the school district, as the district has seen more upset in the last six months (it seems) than during the pandemic. Some ideas are simple but cumulatively would be helpful.
First, the board should meet in a place so that residents have ample room to sit (not scattered about the room). No one should have to face someone’s back. The Kyle boardroom was too small, and while the library is larger, residents (not the board) are the most important people at any meeting. Other districts seat residents so that they sit comfortably facing the board. (Fort is like this; Whitewater should be like this.)
Second, every meeting should have a dedicated time to ask questions of the superintendent or city manager. If no one has questions, well, fine. In addition to public comments generally, or as part of public comments, residents should be able to ask questions of the district’s or city’s appointed leader. This may start out as contentious in Whitewater, perhaps, but after six months’ time, the superintendent or city manager will grow into that role. Perhaps: up to ten questions with the superintendent or city manager.
I have never — never — met a professional who has not, with the right commitment, been made stronger by practice at questions and answers.
Better still — twice-a-month sessions specifically with the city manager or superintendent and the community. One leader, coffee, notebook, pen, and sleeves rolled up talking to residents. Let’s say these sessions start out as contentious. They’ll get better. Let’s say no one shows. Keep holding them anyway, until people catch on.
Third, at each public meeting, the superintendent or city manager should review a fixed set of metrics on how the city or school district is performing. Not on how some students are performing — on how the district is performing. Not on some city events, but on commonly accepted measures of municipal achievement. Leaders should know these metrics by heart, and how their institutions are faring month over month.
Fourth, government should not discourage comments, or insist on positive comments only. The place for positive-only comments is a Hallmark card shop.
Fifth, if there’s not enough time at a meeting, then government needs to hold more public meetings.
If there is to be an improvement, then this is a start. Whitewater deserves at least this much. A few thoughts this evening.
My best to you,
Lets start with getting Singer back on Council.
There’s much worth emulating in his approach. Calm, business-like, shrewdly balancing between competing interests, and avoiding commotions (this is not a city with a margin for commotions), is what serves Whitewater best.
Key point: the time between 4.2020 and 4.2022 was the least focused the council has been in memory. We will do better than that low period.
This council and the new council president have an opportunity to reshape the city government. Best to make the best of the moment.
what if there is no change?
It seems to me to be good advice for this community. Going on as we have been ill serves the community (and will bring nothing better for the city or school district).
Quick addition: reconciliation requires hard work.
One key point — there may be a rare prospect before the Whitewater council’s new president: the chance to guide the city toward beneficial choices and outcomes (where given outcomes needn’t be my preferences, or someone else’s, but simply practical results in-and-of themselves).