Friday, May 13, 2011

Just what are the "Next Steps"

The Tuesday evening election is looming large, and there are still many questions as to just what will happen depending on the result of the referendum.

For those who are still not clear on what the referendum actually does, it basically calls for a repeal of Ordinance 2010-45. That is the ordinance that the Damascus City Council passed and subsequently accepted the Comprehensive Plan, and gave the go ahead for it to be sent to the Department of Land Conservation and Development for the beginning of their review process.

This referendum does not get rid of the Comprehensive Plan, only the ordinance in which it was accepted. This raises the interesting question, “What’s next?”

Since it appears that there is either little interest or desire on behalf of the Council to set aside their differences for the sake of our city and our citizens, we will once again ask, “What’s next?”

What will the Council do depending on the result of the vote? By this time we would have hoped they could have recognized the political ramifications, or at a minimum the perceptions that will come by a knee jerk reaction or a lack of recognition by those that may vote on the other side of the pending result.

Our hope was that weeks ago, they would have sat down, acknowledged their division, agreed to put aside which “side” they have politicked for, and talked about the “Next Steps.” A simple discussion of what the Mayor expected or desired the Council to do, what the council expected or desired the Mayor to do, in focused terms regarding what it will take to review, gain some level of consensus, and craft a new ordinance to accept the Plan, or a modified one. A simple discussion of how the entire Council would acknowledge the concerns that have been raised during this referendum process and if there is a willingness to look and listen to those issues for possible change or implementation as the current Plan would then move forward.

This type of activity basically comes out of leadership. Some have said that we are where we are because the Mayor does not have the needed leadership skills. We are not going to pass judgment on that statement one way or another, but would ask the then obvious question. If that is the case, then why have not one of the other six members of Council stepped up and taken that leadership role? A role that would have tried to pull the Council together to discuss those “Next Steps.”

There has been discussion about the reality that the Mayor, and each Councilor, is individually only one vote. That is truly the case, and we would argue then, why isn’t anyone on Council willing to step up for the good of the citizens that they are elected to represent? All the citizens of Damascus! Not just the ones that may have voted for them, or now either voice support of them or have acted as a voice against others on Council. They are responsible to represent each and every citizen of Damascus.

Since the seating of this current Council, there have been new faces that have emerged in the crowd at the variety of Council meetings and work sessions. We applaud and encourage those new faces and would like to see more. But have those new faces brought forward constructive ideas, or have they just surfaced to create opposition to individuals on Council and further deepen the divide in our community? Only they can answer that question, but our observations are that these truly passionate people have yet to use that passion as constructively as we think would be helpful to us all.

Writing posts on local media web pages, creating blogs and web sites for the purpose of attack are nothing new. They also very rarely make much of a difference, as they are only viewed by those who are either on that “side” or those of the opposition who look for the opportunity to oppose a view. And the majority of those responses and the subsequent dialogue that takes place are very rarely constructive.

We are asking those of you who are visiting this Blog either as an active participant or a behind the scenes viewer, to talk to your Mayor and Councilors. At first, encourage, and if that does not work, then demand that they sit down and attempt to work together. It is too late to identify effectively the “NextSteps” based on the result of the referendum. It is however, not too late to discuss how they can best move forward to develop some way to acknowledge the statements and concerns that have been made during this rough campaign. There have been some reasonable statements and concerns raised by both sides, does the council have the desire and will, to acknowledge them and work them into their plan moving forward?

Time is running out and we encourage everyone regardless of your “side”, to educate yourself, ask questions, and most importantly, VOTE!


  1. here is a brief story, in the form of a facebook post, reflecting the tension and pointless anger in damascus.

    While waving signs in Damascus today I had one gentleman call me and steve spinnett an "ignorant a** hole"... well lets see I'm gaining a college education in poli sci and economics, attending Damascus council and planning meetings, and I even read through the city charter. Yet, this man, who has never met me, calls me ignorant. Who is the real ignorant person here?

    While I have taken a public stance on many of the issues in Damascus I would hope it wouldn't lead to this kind of dialogue. Even though I disagree with councilors like Helm and Jackman, I appreciate their insight and opinion.
    In my opinion, the only way this town can move forward is if we realize that each side isnt built on lies and or even selfish gain, but differing ideologies. I am not ignorant for being skepical of urban planning, no more than others are for supporting it. This is just the debate of our time, and for the voters to decide.

    thats my 2 cents agree or disagree

  2. Seriously? Is this the best we can do Damascus? Shouting obscenties at a young person, rather than attempting a constructive dialogue! Whether you agree with someone or not, does a youth that is getting involved deserve to be treated like this? Thanks for getting involved Tyler and for sharing your willingness to have people disagree with your opinion.

    Come on Damascus! We can do much better than this!