Is the enemy us?


Longtime islander Iver MacDougall borrowed a line from comic strip character Pogo to say that the public shares some of the blame for the perceived dysfunction in city government.

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” MacDougall said at a town hall-style meeting on Tuesday night (see post below).

MacDougall and others said the tone of public discourse has lately gotten a bit too personal and nasty.

But being too concerned about politeness could dampen citizen participation, said Kirsten Hytopoulos.

Perhaps too many islanders are sitting at home watching hours of City Council meetings on BITV.

“Some people may be alone watching TV and having a beer and they want to throw the can at the TV,” said Charles Schmid.

Nothing breaks civic isolation and eases political frustration like teaming up with others and working for the common good, he said. With that in mind, Schmid encouraged the meeting’s attendees to link up in neighborhood groups and put pent-up energy to use at the grassroots level.

So, what’s your take? Is the tough talk on the island too tough to be productive? Is it not tough enough? Is talk enough?

2 thoughts on “Is the enemy us?

  1. From the lack of response to Tristan’s post, I conclude that Pogo is not the right poster child for our Zeitgeist. A chant of “I Go Pogo” would probably be no more effective today than the sound of one hand clapping. Maybe we’re all suffering from irony-poor blood.

    But seriously, irony is not enough. I’m in favor of action; that’s why I stand with the group of four who have been dubbed the “new majority” on the Council. Tough talk, tender talk, wishy-washy, wait-and-see: anything can be good, bad, or indifferent, depending on how well it serves the common good.

    If we’re talking, let’s keep the conversation going in the direction of agreement; let’s avoid any kind of talk that diminishes interest in the subject. Tough talk can be lively, or it can be deadly.

    Charles Royer, ex-mayor of Seattle, gave a talk recently about Seattle’s political culture. He raised the question: “How do things get done around here?” One response was, “We know how to chew; we just don’t know how to swallow.” Another was, “The key to getting things done is figuring out how to turn ‘process’ into a verb rather than a noun.” I’d like to see more people on the Council, and more Council-watchers, motivated by that kind of talk.

  2. Jon — I personally don’t stand with the Gang of Four big-spenders. Peter’s new tax (vehicle excise tax) and proposed taxes on water/sewer charges from areas that are not getting new sewers does not serve the good of the many. The tax/spend gang of four have barely tapped the brakes and they speed on to new non-essential schemes and avoidance of core missions.

    Years ago our neighborhood built a sewer (Sewer District #7) with a LID, for which I have been paying handsomely. Why shouldn’t Winslow improvements come from LID?

    Call for recall: YouTube title: deceit, deception, recall Bainbridge

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