The good ship Hudson

My post yesterday titled “Our own worst enemy” set some quick records for visitors and views on this blog. I don’t smell hot tar this morning so I’ll presume it was what many needed to hear and it was also my first post that was shared by a significant number of people on Facebook, including my most beautiful, smartest and toughest critic, my lovely wife Diane.

I have personally emailed the link to Mayor Prevost and our Councillors because unlike some of the angry mobs, my comments aren`t legally actionable and I believe our leaders have a right to know exactly what I`m saying about them without searching or hearing it second hand.

Once we have elected a government, it is now the only government to work with for all sides of every issue until the end of term. We citizens become like passengers on a ship, our elected leaders must set course and trim the sails based on the laws of the land and of course the feedback that they receive from the citizens that elected them. We citizen passengers hope for a pleasant cruise to a sunny destination, but our leaders also must work within the confines of the condition of the ship they took command of, the prevailing weather and seas, and so the ideal destination isn’t always possible in a short time frame.

It is not the responsibility of our captain or his officers to allow any person or group of people to take the wheel or controls of this ship. What is important in any democracy is that we collectively lift the anchor and start moving in a direction as soon as possible to a destination or at least a direction that most of us agree on.

What about the good ship Hudson?  Once a very proud little ship in a small ocean, Hudson seemed a stable luxurious place at the peak of desirability and independence, and so most of our passengers have booked the lifetime cruise. We’ve enjoyed the best of times and recently we’ve suffered horrid times.

A series of past captains had thought the crew competent enough to have let them mostly run it themselves. Then our long serving first officer turned out to be a real nasty pirate. One of our passengers, a retired captain of industry Ed Prevost, offered to command for us and then was elected, by most of us who voted, to run our ship.

Not enough money had been spent on maintenance, so we started springing leaks, cracks have appeared everywhere and our paint is peeling. Because we were controlled by a pirate, we’ve been ignoring many of the rules for navigation of our ship and our leaders and employees must learn and adapt to many new rules and regulations.

Make no mistake; this has not been a glory assignment for Captain Prevost. Prevost has had to change much of the crew, several first and second officers have jumped ship or some were forced to walk the plank and some even seem to have chosen to stand on the plank and ask to be pushed. All the while, good citizens everywhere on the ship are paddling, bailing, painting and slowly trying to improve Hudson. Some days it seems that there’s hope and we’re seeing some light and a new dawn after the storms.

Captain Prevost and his team of elected officers have a strategic plan for the future. It’s ambitious and will possibly stretch the capabilities of our crew and passengers, but above all else this is a team that actually has a plan for our future. They’re not perfect, their plan is not perfect, but I believe that most of us want to help them guide us from these treacherous waters and into sunny days and calm seas again.

I’m all for community action and community guidance, but I believe it must be constructive and fact based not simply driven by emotion or the loser’s perpetual belief that the winning side is always wrong or always cheating. I admittedly set some pretty high minimum standards because: I hold both democracy and the town where we live in very high esteem.

We have wonderful resources and energy in town. We have credentialed experts on many fields with knowledge and experience that naturally exceeds that of many of our hired town employees. We have in our midst the solutions to many of our problems, if we could just build bridges instead of walls and communicate what we know openly and equally.

Many fear the anger of a mob, but please ignore those bullies who meet in the dark corners of our ship shouting and recommending or plotting mutiny. Frankly, if you’re going to become part of any positive community action group, the Mayor, council and relevant town directors should get minutes of your meetings including the number of members in attendance. Invite them to attend your meetings, where your group has the agenda and control of the floor, because they should want to hear from you.

If the group can’t accept those standards, then they have no right to demand openness and transparency from our government and you might reconsider joining it. Better yet, groups with good ideas should open a website or a blog and please do publish your minutes of meetings and your documents because if you’re really doing trying to do good for the good ship Hudson why wouldn’t you want everyone to know? If your ideas really have potential for consensus support of a majority then we all need to hear them, and we also all need to be able to understand and publicly question them to the point we believe in them as a community. Then progress is simple because it’s driven by education and critical mass.

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