Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 21 of ?

Winning is often the end of an endeavor, but not always. In politics winning should not be an end in itself, only a step. It is the beginning of the true struggle for which the entire history of humanity has striven.

There is a balance to be struck. The balance between the value of the group and the value of the individual. Often people like to side with the one or the other, because both are simple solutions. But the plain fact is that there is no group without the individual. So too there would be no individual person without society. The two must coexist. The society must value and protect the individual as the core foundation of itself, and the individual must value the cooperation of others in creating a unique and emergent order.

Harmony is the aim, the ideal. How to get there is what all of the controversy is about, what it's always about. Great atrocities have been committed in the name of peace, time and time again. The idea that peace is just on the other side of war has been a popular notion, and will remain so, for it can be a partial truth.

William Penn wrote 'An Essay on the Present and Future Peace of Europe' in 1693. Section two is labeled 'Of the Means of Peace, which is Justice rather than War.' In the last sentence Penn says, "Peace is maintain'd by Justice, which is a Fruit of Government, as Government, is from Society, and Society from Consent." Peace is on the other side of justice. That is the path that we are trying to find.

In the spirit of Plato, government is the ship that society has constructed. I am now at the helm of that ship. The goal is to chart our way through the perilous waters of strife to find a course of justice leading to a land of peace. This life is too short to achieve the aim, but it is long enough to make progress, to steer the ship in the right direction.

Dalton has experienced something akin to a revolution in politics. Thus change is both expected and feared, and rightfully so. Radical change in government is destabilizing, and order is fragile. Change should take time, and it must take time if those changes are going to help achieve the harmony that we are seeking over the long term.

For instance, let's say that the policies of government are pieces of the ship. If we change all of the pieces at once then we have torn our ship apart and we have no ship. It's a disaster. A much more reasonable approach is to repair and replace things piece by piece.

We have such things happening now, such as the sign ordinance. The sign ordinance in Dalton is so restrictive that in my first few weeks in office I heard from a couple of businesses and a couple of churches about their problems with it. In our first meeting the township board passed a motion for the planning commission to review it. That's the start of a process that takes months, which is the start of a process to make Dalton more business friendly, which is a change that takes years.

Such a process allows people to debate it amongst themselves, and also within themselves. As Solzhenitsyn says in 'The Gulag Archipelago': "Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains... an unuprooted small corner of evil." Each of us seeking that inner harmony that allows us to uproot those small corners of evil within ourselves, so that we may better see the course of justice, that is the true struggle of humanity.

As for disharmony in Dalton, there is much. Some of that owes itself to human nature, and some of it is the natural outcome of the policies of the previous administration. It is my goal to resolve as much of that as possible. To what extent I will be successful yet remains to be seen.

There should be a balance between authority and responsibility. If someone is going to be responsible for something, then they should have the authority to change it, and if they have the authority to change it then they are responsible for it. Where that balance lays has been misperceived in the past. For instance, the decision about what will or will not be a zoning ordinance does not lie with the zoning administrator. The sign ordinance is a good example. The supervisor determines who will be on the planning commission. The planning commission puts together the policy recommendation. The township board determines what they will or will not pass. Therefore a lot of authority is in the planning commission, and there too a lot of responsibility. And the township board has more of both authority and responsibility.

A last note on disharmony and responsibility. Considering what has happened over the last twenty months, it's no secret that I have both a lot of supporters and a lot of enemies. There have been some small plots against me that have been thwarted, both before and after I've taken office. It's reasonable to expect future plots as well.

In anticipation of a recall attempt against me, I want people to know that I will speak in support of my own recall. That seems odd at first, but here's the problem. A recall needs approval by a partisan county board before signatures can be gathered. This allows party politics to dominate the recall process. The state law was changed under Governor Snyder to make it even harder to get a recall approved, which also made it more of a party issue. I agree that it should be hard to recall an elected official. It should certainly not be easy. But it should not be party politics, which is what the current state law makes it. So, if there is a recall attempt against me in the future I will speak in support of the election board passing it. Because the difficult part of a recall should not be getting it approved by politicians, the hard part should be collecting all of the signatures from citizens that you need to recall an elected official.

Change has begun in Dalton. Like the turning of a great ship, it takes time, and we would want it no other way. Rough waters and stormy weather are a part of the process of progress. But we have the ability to make an environment where the individual songs of our lives come together in harmony. We have the ability to carve out an area of protection, an eye in the storm of the world that rages around us. All paths are hard, so we must choose our hard. Peace too is hard. And yet we can choose to make peace and to find peace, in the world and within ourselves, and that is a hard worth choosing.



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