Disingenuous community involvement
December 11, 2007
From: Jim Paussa, Basalt
I just received an e-mail from someone on the Willits developer’s team. It informed me that the developers have been hosting a series of community discussion groups concerning the “overall vision for the entire Willits Town Center.”
Since I am always blathering on about “process” and “community involvement” I want to clarify the difference between their approach and my approach.
I advocate a process whereby citizens gather to establish common town goals that benefit everybody. I’m not concerned with results. If you put people in a room, give them honest facts and good information, they will get to a good result. I’ve seen it happen.
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That room is not public comment period at a council meeting. Public comment period is “us vs. them.” People come to those meetings to defend their positions instead of finding common ground and establishing goals. That is not a safe place to share your thoughts.
A developer cannot and should not have meetings to establish community goals and guide the future of a town. Developers are a special interest. Their job is to take care of that special interest. Their job is to influence the community and gather support for their project. Their job is to make a profit. And that is 1,000 percent OK.
It is not the developer’s job to take care of the community. That is our job. They can have “community meetings” but please remember that there are millions of dollars riding on the outcome. Therein lies the difference.
We don’t gather and discuss community goals in Basalt anymore. (There are fake citizen groups but nothing like what we used to do.) That means the special interests only have to influence four out of our seven councilors to get their way. Bummer for us.