A certain group on Facebook might want to change its name to “Stand By Great Bend.” That is, “Stand By — Don’t do anything until the next City Council is sworn in.”
“Stand By — Until Mayor Mike Allison is gone. Don’t let the ‘old guard’ approve anything that he suggests.”
Maybe there should be a group called “Stand Behind Great Bend officials — so you can shove anyone who has been on the job too long off a Cliff.”
It’s true that social media can be downright unsocial. Jaron Lanier, described by Smithsonian magazine as “the digital pioneer and visionary behind virtual reality,” said the “hive mind” of the web world threatens to destroy political discourse, economic stability and the dignity of personhood.
It certainly causes people to be downright rude.
That is especially disheartening when the uncivil behavior is aimed at our neighbors who work and live in our community.
Right now — not a month from now — the city council has a job to do. Why would there be public outrage over appointing David Bailey, a 40-year veteran of the police force, to the position of Chief of Police? Even those who opposed his promotion said they don’t have a problem with Bailey; they just don’t like the mayor and the majority of the council.
Some people feel they handed down a “mandate” in the November election and until January the old guard should sit back and wait to be evacuated when their swamp is drained.
What mandate? What swamp?
Actually, there was no “mandate” at the polls for longtime City Administrator Howard Partington to resign or for Mayor Allison to choose not to run again after holding the office for 18 years. There may have been a mandate from the hive — dare we say mob? — that swarmed about buzzing words like “corruption” because they were unhappy about the previous police chief being suspended.
Partington and Allison certainly did not generate the groundswell of public support that Chief Cliff Couch received.
After 36 years of service to this community, Mr. Partington was not Mr. Popular. In the weeks before and after his retirement, people who had held grudges could complain about his sweet pension deal, approved years ago. No one bothered to say thanks for the decades he spent trying to help his hometown be the best it could be, a city “Open for Business” and a community where youths are invited to have a voice.
Same with the mayor. In 18 years, he was supportive as the city grew with new housing, businesses and jobs. He championed street repairs and gave the official welcome at city-sponsored events. If someone else could have done it better, why didn’t that person step up four years ago? Or 12?
Must every civic employee or elected official who has been in office or kept a job for decades be treated as a criminal or worse by members of a mob who claim this unkind behavior is a mandate?
It was another mob, many years ago, that shouted the mandate, “Give us Barabbas!”
If we can’t at least be respectful to people volunteering to serve our community, who is going to want to serve in the future?
No one is asking for everyone to agree. Discourse can be healthy and dissenting opinions need to be heard. But there is no need to treat our neighbors with disrespect. That includes our neighbors who are in the public eye.