Small-town Bureaucratic Persistence in Edgerton, Wisconsin

Over in Edgerton, Wisconsin, a place even smaller than my town of Whitewater, there’s been a sensible decision to “hold off on discussions over buying a new police dog until fall 2011, when the city plans for its 2012 budget.” See, Edgerton Delays Dog Decision.

Edgerton’s former police dog bit a police officer from another department, and an Edgerton city worker, before being sold. I’ve written before about the mess that was Edgerton’s former K-9 program. See, Update 3: On Edgerton, Wisconsin’s Police Dog (Doggone and Dog Gone!).

It’s just embarrassing that Edgerton’s police chief, Tom Klubertanz, and Alderman Ken Westby, won’t let this issue go. Edgerton is a small town, and few small towns have police dogs, because they’re a big commitment. That’s why one finds K-9 units in large cities or in counties, rather than small towns. Responsible, prudent small-town policing doesn’t require a police dog, and in fact, would shy away from one because the commitment is just a distraction from other priorities.

My own small town of Whitewater (pop. 14, 296) is bigger than Edgerton (approx. 5,000), but still wouldn’t be suited to a canine unit. That’s a role that nearby counties can, and have, undertaken.

There’s a persistence in this that defies the reasonable or the practical. It’s an exercise in insisting, again and again, on the unpersuasive and unbelievable. Why anyone would double down this way my seem puzzling.

I don’t know why a few in Edgerton carry on; readers can guess that these few and I don’t travel in the same circles.

Beyond Edgerton, though, it’s all too easy for bureaucrats or politicians to lose touch with now ordinary people think . They surround themselves with toadies, sycophants, and boot lickers (a few of each, I’d guess), and all they hear is (1) how wonderful they are and (2) how evil or stupid their critics are. When they encounter a setback, they refuse to consider that they might have been wrong; instead, their circle of supporters tells them, “These savages don’t deserve someone so serene and sublime as you are, Your Grace. Still, would you not consider trying again, so that they may now see the error of their ways , and support your loving, careful, and brilliant proposal? Please, sir, give them another chance.”

But the same ordinary and sensible people see the same senseless and odd proposal, and say: “Can you believe this guy’s wasting our time yet again? What the heck?”

That’s the gap between cocooned officials and sensible constituents.

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