Technology is wonderful...when it works.
When it doesn’t, it’s another thing altogether. I’m sure new words and spicy adjectives have been coined for the English language over the frustration caused when things that are supposed to work... well... don’t.
Like computers, for instance. We expect them just to work, and usually, when they don’t, as much as we want to bash them with a hammer, many times, it comes down to human error. Sometimes it just takes shutting it down and hitting that restart button. It’s as though the air is cleared, and things start working again.
Government can be that way too.
It’s supposed to work, and we all approach it idealistically with the best of intentions. However, many times the problem lies in our own human error, miscommunication, or misunderstood expectations. Sometimes, it’s just because we disagree, and that’s okay. In fact, it is good... as long as we don’t pick up hammers and start bashing one another out of sheer frustration.
So why am I writing this?
Well, back in May, while out of town, I happened to catch an article in The Apopka Voice regarding our former city attorney Joe Byrd. It appeared that I may have missed a request for comment, so I quickly texted Reggie and apologized in case I had. As it turns out, my response never reached its intended recipient. (Where’s my hammer?!!!)
I did speak recently to Reggie, who confirmed he had never received my correspondence. He invited me to resubmit my original text, which I will divulge here, along with some closing thoughts.
Tuesday, May 23, 7:20 am
I just read the article about the letter from Joe Byrd, and I noticed you ended that you reached out to all that served with him for a response, and only Kyle answered. I don’t see anything from you to me either by text or email, and I apologize if I missed it.
Joe Byrd was a consummate gentleman and professional with me and I was sorry to see him go. I did press him after he resigned, and though he did tell me about the new job offer, he said candidly that the level of animosity he had experienced both for he and his wife had taken a toll and was disappointing. He did affirm the point you mentioned about the expletive from the dais from Commissioner Becker but said that he later apologized to him.
The level of vitriol and personal attacks online is accurate and par for the course, unfortunately, and has become commonplace. It is part of free speech, but as the apostle Paul warned, all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient.
I am very concerned with the present climate though I have been out of the mix during sessions and was too consumed to follow the present turmoil with the new measure of responsibility I carry and the multiple municipalities I now serve.
I must say I’m saddened at the present course and am hopeful that we can truly move forward beyond the toxic environment. When we are all in the same boat and shoot at each other, we all suffer the same fate. Yes, we have the duty to hold accountable those who serve, but witch hunts went out of style a few centuries ago, and I hope for more civility in the future.
When decorum breaks down, so does the ability to govern effectively, and we must always resist the inclination to politicize a point no matter which side of the dais we sit on. We must follow the economy of words, for after they are spent, we will live with the purchase, and sometimes buyer's remorse can be painful. “
In the most recent dust-up, I can commiserate with both Commissioner (Nick) Nesta and Mayor (Bryan) Nelson. Family should be off-limits, period. But my great concern is that Apopka would be seen as an online “Jerry Springer Show,” which hurts our credibility and will do more to ward off economic development regardless of where you stand on the issues.
So, in summary, I think we should all push a big reset button and let the air clear. Let’s put down our hammers, whether it be a keyboard or city hall, and let’s work together as citizens. Accountability with civility and character with virtue will accomplish far more when we really listen to each other, focus on the problems, and find solutions together.