EDITORIAL: A plea for clear talk

We don’t claim to understand, much less dare to propose solutions to, all of the solid waste issues facing our county. But this much we know: the current rift between commissioners and county mayors doesn’t help anyone. For the second consecutive commission meeting, the intensity of the discussion superceded the content, at least in the view of some.

Unfortunately, it seems to us, the issues involved in clarifying the future of trash removal and recycling in our county are becoming lost in what amounts to communication and turf conflicts between participants.

The mayors, as a group, seem hyper-suspicious that the commission is trying to pull a fast one on city governments. That impression is enhanced when evidence suggests that maneuvering is happening behind closed doors and out of public view.

The commissioners, on the other hand, sometimes seem to feel the mayors are attempting to exert power in issues beyond their political jurisdiction. Hiring legal counsel to protect their interests is a power statement-though a necessary one, the mayors would argue.

The issues surrounding solid waste removal are complex, maybe too complex for most of us looking on to fully understand. But we do understand-and don’t like-the bickering between the two parties. From our perspective, this not an “us vs. them” battle because, for the taxpayer and common citizen, city and county governments are both us. So we’ve got one request: Stop talking at each other and start talking to each other.

We think both groups are taking a huge step in the right direction by agreeing to meet for a special meeting July 25 at the county courthouse. Our hope is that the mayors and the commissioners use the occasion to calmly and openly express their concerns-about the “official” issues involving solid waste policies in the coming decade, but also the underlying issues of mistrust that are so often fueled by poor communication.

It may sound overblown to say we are in a governmental crisis these days. But “crisis” is really nothing more than the convergence of conflict and opportunity. Let’s hope the commissioners and mayors can see the conflict represented by their differences as an opportunity to forge a closer and more productive working relationship.

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