Monday, October 29, 2007

Serving All

Disclaimer: There's a complex relationship between citizens and the people they elect to serve them. It's not unlike parent-child, with flip-flopping roles. On one hand, the citizens look up to the elected official; on the other, they hope to shape and guide that official to do their bidding. An elected official looks to his/her constituency for direction, and also, will direct the people, when appropriate. It seldom works out well, does it?

How does Doug not see the hypocrisy in his words? He's been a critic, or else he wouldn't be mayor; and he's currently a critic of the Bush administration, or else he wouldn't be hoping that Hillary Clinton continues to remember him. And I'm sure there are plenty of us here in Trenton — even if we haven't been happy with Doug's reign — who agree our country is in need of a change in management. It's Doug's right — just as it's our right — to express displeasure of our government. We are Americans. It's the way it goes.

I suspect — though I hope I'm wrong — that there's something else at play. For so many career politicians, their motivation is off: it's not about representing the people, and building communities, because, in fact, many career politicians are often disconnected from the people they serve. Career politicians often to care less about their constituents and far more about their own future in government. We're all human, and thinking about tomorrow and our own comfort and success is only natural, but not at the expense of everyone else around us, especially if you're a politician, a person elected by the people, to serve the people.

Doug thinks that those who openly discuss the problems of Trenton (specifically our administration, which, Doug, would not exist ANYWHERE else), are lowering the property values. Doug thinks his critics and dissenters are "hurting" Trenton. I can understand this, to a degree; and I am sure there are some people who don't care if they're hurting the city, who do have an ax to grind. Those people are unfortunate, but really, they're rare. Most dissenters and critics do what they do for the love of community, the hope for a better future. I agree with Old Mill Hill, over on the front stoop that, no, Trenton is already wounded. We're hurting because the city doesn't enforce jack, at least not with any consistency, and certainly not of its own volition. It's my opinion — and yes, I'm biased, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong — that the bloggers, and the participants in the message boards, and people who organize to speak about the problems in this city with one clear, unified voice, are lifting Trenton; we're motivated by the hope of better days ahead. Our opinions show the outside world that Trenton is not a write-off, full of gang members and thugs, but rather, we are a colorful, vibrant, attractive community. Move here! The government is a bit screwed up, but the people are great! And the election isn't TOO far away! Come on!

The accusations of Mayor Palmer's speech the other night were perplexing, and, I'm sorry, kind of infantile. I hope my sister doesn't get pissed at me for this analogy, but Doug's heartfelt, if misdirected, hostility toward his critics made me think of my young niece, Emma. Emma's a good girl, but she's under 2, so she's at that age where the whole world completely revolves around her. And she's got attentive siblings and aunts and uncles and parents and cousins and grandparents, so she's usually very happy. Who wouldn't be? Like any toddler, as soon as someone scolds her, her mood changes: she gets mad at the people who criticize her, even though her "critics" are actually helping her. It's hard to see her so upset, stinging from a scolding, but there is comfort in knowing that Emma will grow from the feedback of her family members. After the verbal lashing Doug's critics received on Thursday night, it's apparent to me that Doug channeled his "inner toddler," if he's not stuck in his toddler years, outright. Instead of listening and trying to work with his community, he threw a teeny tiny bit of a tantrum. We all care about Trenton, so Doug attacked his family, his friends, and his teammates.

On a very basic, human level, I understand Doug's pain. No one likes to be criticized. But he signed up for a job that puts him in a position to be criticized, and he's been doing it long enough that he should be able to take the heat in a dignified manner. His job is to serve all of us, not just the people who pay their taxes and don't complain about anything. Really, there aren't THAT many of us in Trenton, and even fewer of us with opinions. So how hard is to listen? How hard is it to work with the community? I think it's possible, and I hope Doug takes the pacifier out of his mouth and steps up to the plate.


Irving Bertrand Clean said...

I don't know about this. I didn't catch the speech, but I DID read L.A. Parker's take on it.

Having read this, I know that Dougie absolutely knocked it out of the park, because L.A. Parker is NEVER wrong.

You haters won't be happy until you destroy everything Dougie worked so very hard for, will you? WILL YOU?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Well said. Very good analysis of the Mayor's reaction.