Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holding My Tongue

As I have gotten older, and possibly wiser, I have tried not to wield this blog as a pointed object against individuals. I have made very few exceptions to this rule.

My patience is being sorely tested by a member of the Oakland Mills Village Board who has violated every imaginable boundary when it comes to local politics and self-promotion. I’ve tried taking a breath and counting to ten but it just keeps on happening.

I have great faith in the OMCA Board Chair and in the overall positive tone of the work the Board has been doing under his leadership. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have a rogue member who consistently disrespects every boundary and operates outside any collegial, collaborative sense of partnership.

Serving on a Village Board is seen to be a deadend, thankless task. Well, that’s only if people even know what serving on a Village Board is. You’ve heard my annual sermons about getting involved in Village Electons but the truth is that a large portion of Columbia residents these days no idea about any of this. Getting people to serve on Village Boards can be almost impossible.

Most folks who step up to serve are good and hardworking people who just want to help their communities. But then, every so often, you get someone who believes that this will be their springboard to The Big Time. They think that this will be Politics with a capital P and they are all about wheeling and dealing, private meetings and secret deals, and a whole lot of self-promotion.

These people are toxic and they can singlehandedly wreck any good work a Board is trying to accomplish. It would be far better to have no boards at all than to have to dig out from the damage caused by people who want to be the big frog in the small pond and don’t mind stepping on everyone else to do it.

Someone suggested to me recently that I was splitting hairs by saying that Columbia wasn’t a city, saying that population alone made it so. I don’t agree. If Columbia incorporated as a city new forms of governance would need to be established and the public scrutiny for holding office would be a good deal more intense. People like my as-yet-unnamed Board Member would be sifted out pretty quickly.

Public service, no matter how small, should not be the playground of bullies, abusers, manipulators, and self-promoters. But around a Village Board table, folks like that see an opportunity to reign unchecked. Who’s going to stop them? It isn’t like there are tons of replacements waiting to take their places.

At this point I have enough material to lay out a comprehensive piece on this person’s escapades. I have quotes, I have photographs, I have screenshots. Or, as they say these days, I have receipts. But I’m not an investigative reporter. I’m essentially a private citizen who has strong opinions. I’m really, really trying hard to stay in my lane here.

If you live in Columbia and you’re a good-hearted individual, please consider running for your Village Board this year. Believe me, you are needed.

Celebration in the Woods Advent Calendar:

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