You can’t please everyone ...
— Rick Nelson
The time has come for some local politicians to stop perpetually running for office and do the job they were elected to do.
It’s a tough reality to face, but everyone in your neighborhood, everyone in your district, everyone in your county, everyone in your state, everyone in your country, everyone in your world is not going to like you, no matter what you do. The sooner you come to grips with that fact, the sooner you can start making some tough decisions.
Case in point: A local health care business jumped through all the federal, state and local hoops required to set up a personal care home that would provide for the around-the-clock needs of three developmentally disabled individuals who have been, in essence, unceremoniously evicted from a state-run facility because the federal government didn’t think certain basic standards were being met by the state.
Before the local business was through hoop-jumping, though, its local government imposed a 120-day moratorium on all such facilities. The move was warranted: The government hadn’t updated its ordinance dealing with personal care facilities in 20 years, and with the state under mandate to move people out of its own facilities, a need suddenly developed for private care homes.
Meanwhile, residents in the neighborhood where the health care business proposed to locate the care home got wind of the plan and came before city officials asking that the home — or any other kind of business — not be allowed in their neighborhood.
Government officials called on staff, in particular one of their newest hires with a vast amount of knowledge in such matters, to come up with an ordinance that met federal, state and local guidelines, and that official — easily one of the most effective and efficient members of the government’s staff — put together a proposal that met those requirements and others sought by local officials. But a funny thing happened on the way to passage of the ordinance.
The neighborhood group came before the local governing board again and not only requested that research be done to determine if their neighborhood qualified for historic status (which would not preclude care homes from operating there), their representative belittled the work of government staff — in particular the impressive new hire — and insisted the moratorium that was to be lifted with the passage of the ordinance be extended another 120 days.
The governing board, faced with a tough decision that would impact a legitimate local business and an angry group of citizens, blinked. Rather than following through with making a decision, the board voted to extend the moratorium, in essence providing the neighborhood group with another four-month delay during which they no doubt hope the health care facility will give up on its plans and just go away.
But the board did more than fail to follow through with its duty by saying we’ll wait another 120 days to make this tough decision. By giving in to the demands — and, yes, they were demands — of the spokesman for the neighborhood group, the government officials essentially neutered staff, whose recommendations in this case had been based on law and not emotion.
Now the legitimate health care business is out quite a bit of money (hmmm ... anyone smell a potential law suit?), its owners have declared they will not give up on placing a home in the neighborhood, the neighborhood group is celebrating a “victory” while hoping a deadline for moving clients out of state facilities comes and goes before the local government finally passes an ordinance, and the members of the governmental body ... well, their strategy is apparently to sit back and hope this somehow just goes away.
Never mind that they undermined the professional work of their staff. Never mind that now any group that opposes future action taken by the government has a precedent on which to base a protest. Never mind that their claims to become more business friendly now ring hollow. Never mind that three developmentally disabled individuals have been denied access to a facility that will provide for their needs.
At least no one lost any votes.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at email@example.com.