Due to the lack of Republican challengers, the next four years are coming into view. There are bigger things at stake, and those suffering losses need not be too hard on themselves.
It would be safe to say that we have two opposing forces in this county. One is labor, and the other is developers. And to this, I’ll add a third, community organizations.
To understand the election, you have to understand the history. When Tom Gordon first ran, the communities were up in arms over haphazard development with no control. In 1974 vast swatches of the county, then all farmland, had been zoned into various categories. As development moved outwards from Wilmington, issues began to develop. Gordon upon coming into office, put a moratorium on development. None for 6 months.
That is when the UDC became formulated. Through Community organizations who were allowed to be part of the planning, a system was developed that had already been subsequently approved by those whose backyards would be affected…. During this time frame community associations were big. Even state legislators made it a point to attend. Labor made it a point to attend. Sometimes if the project was big, even a US Congressman or Senator might attend.
The point was, that the community was involved. And compared to earlier, it was cheaper for developers, who did not have to worry about making arbitrary adjustments during the construction process simply because of pressure from the community put on elected official, who then demanded costly requests to those investing the money and building projects.
That was early in Gordon’s term. Then came the paranoia. Was someone a plant? Was someone working for someone else, and sabotaging from the inside all the good work being done. A police state mentality descended upon county employees. If someone challenged Gordon, instead of saying whatever, give it your best shot, maybe that’s the way it is going to work out better, the tone became how dare you challenge me. Once that tone gets taken it has to be supported by actions. The legal troubles ensued because county money was used to this purpose. Intimidation. Company employees sent to spy; all sorts of cloak and dagger tactics.
It was time for new leadership. The Unions were out, and the business model came in. Under Coons the model was to bring in business. But gradually the cash cow of transfer taxes began to trickle. Paul Clark continued the business model during the tightness of the past 4 years. Balancing the budget on lean earnings meant some people had to go. It meant some positions could not be filled. It meant new equipment needed by police and firemen, could not be purchased. On a positive note, it meant balanced budgets, and a AAA bond rating, which holds costs down during times of future borrowing.
Because of the shift to business, it meant that community organizations were a hindrance. Bloggers who were worried about the destruction of an old cow shed, calling it historical, were holding development costing millions of dollars. Paul Clark though his wife, streamlined the process required for moving projects forward. Like everything, there are negatives and positives. As these moved forward, the negatives were washed over and the positives extolled. In hindsight, when money and jobs were in short supply, this streamlined process probably did allow a few worker’s houses to remain in their position. Had they waited or scrapped the projects, those workers would be out of work and bankrupt.
So hindsight is clearer than foresight. Had we had a labor executive, or a community supporter during this Republican caused Recession, we may have been worse off.
Now, Tom Gordon is back in. We have the ascendency of the Unions, but the community associations have dried up and blown away. Deemed vestigal organs by the past two administrations, they withered on the vine and are hard pressed to find ones still actively involved in planning and development.
But Tom has his own challenges. Personal challenges. There are two types of people and everyone ranges somewhere between them. You have “good” people and “bad” people… If a “bad” person gets re-elected, he goes, “ha,ha… suckers…. This time I’m taking everything that is not nailed down.” If a “good” person gets re-elected, he goes “… wow, i got another chance to make things right; I can’t eff it up this time; I got to be careful.” Which of these is Tom, depends upon who you talk to right now. It is still close to the election. However, knowing what I know, if it were me, I would do the latter. I would know that I would be rated by my last term; memories are short. Whatever I do in my last term will erase what happened in the first. I will end well liked.
Tom lost his mind on Freeberry. He has not talked to her in 5 years. I can understand how in that type of relationship, if one hears the admonition of that one is not tough enough, one could believe it, and crack down harder to be feared….
We are at a new crossroads now. Here is what needs to happen. We need the skills that Tom once had, without the baggage…. Anyone can make guesses at what motivates other people and I am no exception. It appears that the early Tom was insecure. Afraid of losing everything he had built up, he doubled down on everyone under him. If someone dare oppose him on council, the found a challenger and worked with that challenger to defeat that person who opposed him.
A secure person would have gone to that person’s district, checked to see if that office holder was voting what his constituents wanted, and if so, dropped the plank. To continue would be forcing constituents to accept what they did not want. Drop it and move on.
The second requirement is to surround himself with top notch people. Look for and hire people who are capable of doing what is required. Don’t worry about loyality; that comes with time. You can’t force someone to be loyal; you can only force them to tell you they are loyal. Real loyalty comes from love. When people like you well enough, and buy into what you are trying to accomplish that they sacrifice some of their well being for a greater cause that you champion, life becomes so much easier. What about that spy?
There will always be spies. The US has spies as well as China and Russia and Israel. When spies are found out, they are dealt with quickly and decisively. One has to. Your loyal members need to know you value their feelings too. But if you have a mole, and you are a good leader, your people will bring the spies before you, especially if they are interrupting their work and feelings of accomplishment.
When a management team closes ranks, it destroys it’s legacy. It will not last forever and when it does go, it leaves no knowledge behind. The replacement team tinkers and often erases all the accomplishment the original team laid out, so years later no one can remember anything you ever did. A true team, leaves behind a team that is better than it was, having learned from all the original blunders and errors what not to do. A true team, when it leaves, has things continuing running smoothly as far into the future as the eye can see. As long as those things run well, when someone asks, who started this, your legacy will be enhanced.
Bottom line, is to treat the employees in your office building like you would treat a community association meeting. You are only, and will only be, as good as they are.
That needs to be your focus over the next four years… A quick speech: ”We will not fail our constituents; if you are having trouble succeeding, I need to know about it quickly so I can give you what you need to be successful.”
Time to move Forward.