Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
For those of you who are unfamiliar with thee communication model, I’ll try to describe it quickly and give a brief explanation of how it should work, especially with the Louisa County Board of Supervisors.
The sender is the board, which has about 95 percent of the responsibility for making sure that the message gets communicated to the public with as much understanding as it can collectively muster. Even if there’s incomplete understanding, that’s relevant for the public to know.
It’s been made painfully obvious by the board itself that it has little understanding of substantial issues brought up for its deliberation. This factor itself is significant and deserves much more attention than the supervisors are willing to give.
The message is the information that the board is supposed to provide the citizens. That includes things like financial reports, status of projects, projections about growth, school system, public safety and other matters. All these things are important to us because we have to pay for them, and we are impacted by the decisions of the board, which they make on our behalf—not for us, as they claim.
Most important is that the message is accurate, both from the perspective of facts and how the board processes those facts.
There’s a serious gap that the board keeps making wider. That gap is noise and there are several possible reasons for that mindset. One being the self-impression that the board thinks it should be omniscient—which will never happen—and any display to the contrary would be a sign of weakness. Another is a mental state of arrogance that more actively pursues the myth of omniscience.
The medium is the board meetings that the public is “graciously” allowed to attend, and this is where the problem begins. For the supervisors, we are an impediment to their actions.
As the receiver in the communication model, we have the remaining responsibility— about five percent—to be open-minded and receptive to new projects. The board prefers we remain ignorant, uninformed and gullible. That would create fewer complications and distractions from whatever its unstated mission really is.
The final piece of the communication model is the feedback that interferes with board activities. There is at least one very effective means of disrupting the feedback mechanism—ignore the public comments. In fact, it works so well that the board uses it consistently to confound the efforts of the citizens.
If the board was less intent on deflecting the legitimate concerns and comments of the public, the result would be a meaningful dialogue leading to a constituency satisfied with the performance of our elected officials. Instead, we have supervisors who cajole the citizens into participating with a government that only intends to rebuff them for their efforts. The board is nowhere near fulfilling its share of responsibility in the communication model. I wouldn’t even give it five percent based on its actions.
Status quo is what we have in Louisa County. The board ignores what we say, does what it wants and sets us up for another round of ignoring us.
If the only thing we do is complain about what the board does—like we have been doing—we’ll keep getting the same results. Some people have mentioned that the pressure should be kept on the board. Well, maintaining that pressure has done precious little to change the board’s strategy of ignoring the public.
I hear very little about increasing the pressure to get government for the rest of us.
Editor’s Note: this letter originally appeared in the October 31st edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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