Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What do the Young People Think?

Today's local papers are all brimming with details of the sentencing of Detroit's former mayor.  We have opinions from everyone.  Supporters and detractors.  But what do our young people see and think about all this mess?

When I entered politics in 1988, my three sons were 9, 10, and 11.  Our meetings at that time were tape-delayed.  By 1990, we were on live TV.  With meetings staring at 7:30 PM, they were able to watch before bedtime.  And watch they did.

By this time, we had a newly appointed Supervisor.  The same person who had run in 1988 and lost in the primary election, now had taken office on a 4-1 vote of a seven member board.  (One trustee stayed home and I voted 'present'.  Call it a coward's way of voting 'no' or 'yes', when your vote will not matter.)  The result was a very contentious two years til the next election.

Those who are still around from back then can tell you that it was pretty disgusting television.  Most of the residents thought that the Supervisor was being controlled some members of a group called OUST, which had forced a recall election in 1988.  (This Supervisor was 'ousted' in the 1992 primary.)

At one meeting an employee got up and called the Supervisor a liar.  True on the issue involved, but not quite appropriate.  Another time, items were thrown at the Board table.

I mention all this because once, when I scolded my children for arguing with each other, they quickly responded by reminding me of the behavior on the Township Board.  Oops.  They were absolutely right. 

Again, after eight years of relative calm, the community again had a contentious board from 2001-2008.  I had school teachers tell me that they taped our meetings to show their high school government classes 'how not to act'.  And while I thought things would change with a new administration in 2009, it seems it is even worse (yes, my opinion, deal with it).

But in all of this, young people are seeing adults in political positions of power setting very bad examples of behavior, the least of which is disrespectful disagreement.  The worst of this has to be the misuse of the trust placed in them at the time of their election.  The waste of hard-earned tax dollars.  And yet, some still do not get it.

Is it not surprising that our young people do not trust government to do what they promise?  Government today is 'up close and personal'.  And these future leaders are watching.  Let's make sure we send the right message and express it in our behavior and our words.

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