Looking for the Good: In Praise of Local Government Officials & Employees
Below is an excerpt from Lewis F. McLain Jr. a consultant, writer, and local government worker. McLain has taught MPA courses at the University of North Texas and is currently the Principal at McLain Decision Support Systems.
You can read the rest of the article here: An Open Letter to the Naysayers.
An Open Letter to the Naysayers
There comes a point in time when you just have to say something, to do something. After over 40 years, I cannot remain silent any longer. The wave of nega- tivism has been strong for many years when it comes to city council, school board and commissioners’ court meetings. This is a call to all citizens and local government employees to help communicate im- portant messages that have long been overlooked or simply not spoken. It is so easy to be a naysayer. The poison spreads and before long there is a feeding frenzy to attack just for the sake of attacking.
I have seen mean-spirited people who sound like they know what they are talking about whip a group of people into a tizzy who are drawn into the fight but have no clue about the substance of the inflam- matory language being used. There is always a tell- sign because the naysayers start throwing in words like “transparency” and “waste” but have no specific point when you try to pin them down on their asser- tion. Another tell-sign is when they start throwing in references to issues going on at the federal level or start quoting historical patriots or philosophers to show they have nailed the truth.
Most of what is good in our communities have been built over years by strong leaders and visionaries. In many cases, as history will attest, it has been the news publishers leading the way to progress and greatness. Naysayers want to undo, break down or at least thwart the work of many good people. This negative movement has got to be offset.
Looking for the Good
We need people who look for the good instead of simply dwelling on the bad or perceived bad they can find. We need people who not only feel a sense of
gratitude for all that we are blessed to have and, more importantly, be willing to step up and express that appreciation to elected officials and govern- ment staffs doing their best to make wise decisions on behalf of the public.
We need people who are willing to attend council meetings and point out the good. We need letters sent in abundance to include the praise for tough de- cisions and the thanks for the civic duty of volunteers and the hard work of paid staffers. We need to match the naysayers 10:1 when the primary motivation is to express a chronic complaint for anything they can find or for any person they can demonize.
Does this mean councilmembers or staff members should never be questioned and only heaped with praise? Absolutely not. There is always a forum with willing ears in order for anybody to address a con- cern or grievance. Looking for the Good is about providing a balance and spreading a new perspective to every corner of governance possible.
What are the Messages?
Surprisingly, many of the messages of those Looking for the Good are the same as the naysayers. Much of the difference that sets the two mindsets apart is how the messages are delivered and whether they are slanted or fact-based. These are hardly new mes- sages from me given I have been writing about them for 33 years. Just not to the right audience.
We want to be supportive of responsible govern- ment and to show that backing by being new mes- sengers that can help fill a void and to bring new en- ergy for leaders, managers and workers trying to bring quality services to their jurisdictions. Following are some of the messages of Looking for the Good supporters. This is not a club or PAC. It is a way of life.
To read McLain’s list of 38 messages follow the link: An Open Letter to the Naysayers