Democracy, by its nature, is a messy business. Democracy is based on the notion that multiple points of view are entertained and a consensus is eventually reached. In a representative form of government, the electorate ostensibly elects a representative to represent their interest at the governing body that sets the community’s public policy agenda. Not everyone gets what he or she wants and many of us will always argue that the public policy agenda has been hijacked by one group or another. Democracy expects that because public policy agendas are a personal thing.
For Democracy to work there needs to be a set of ground rules that must be adhered to for the process to remain intact. I believe that the most basic ground rule is that debate, disagreements and posturing are part of the process however, at the end of the day the debates and the disagreements should not impede the process. If the process fails, democracy fails and that leads to a breakdown of society.
I know some of you are thinking that I’m exaggerating the seriousness of the problem however let us explore this a little further. Politicians by their nature keep two personas; one behind the scenes and one in front of the public. Even when they disagree with the votes taken at the governmental bodies at the end of the day the politicians will posture about how everyone else is wrong, except themselves but the city’s business continues unimpeded.
The problem with the musical chairs at city hall is that it is a prelude to a possible breakdown of social norms that could possible lead to chaos at the city and a takeover by higher authorities. It may look like a simple “cat fight” between two or more women but in reality, it is the beginning of loss of control at the city.
No one can argue that Eddie Holguin and Steve Ortega were diametrically opposed to each other’s vision of the public policy agenda. Even at their most heated debates, there was never an instance when the process was impeded by either of the two protagonists. As heated, as the arguments were at the end of the day government functioned as it was supposed to. That means everyone had enough respect of the system that they remained in their seats.
Let’s contrast that with what’s happening with the musical chairs fiasco. What we are seeing are three individuals that refuse to sit next to each other. This is a very public repudiation of another elected official by elected officials. In other words, if the very public statement is being sent by the elected officials that they refuse to take their assigned seats because of conflict then what makes anyone think that these same elected officials are willing to work together for the city’s welfare?
Think about that for a minute.
The process of democracy is based on arguing and eventually reaching a consensus for the community.
Yet, in El Paso you have elected officials that refuse to sit together publicly forcing the community to wonder if either or all are now working behind the scenes to destroy the other politician’s ability to do their job. If they are publicly refusing to work with another politician what makes you think they wouldn’t be colluding to impede the other politician’s ability to do their job.
So far, the presiding official, Oscar Leeser has demonstrated that he has lost control of the situation. Leeser, as the presiding officer, is so busy trying to maintain “decorum” from the public speakers that he has lost all “decorum” from those that he is supposed to preside over.
In command school, we were taught that maintaining discipline is paramount to keeping order over those you command. Discipline (corrected on 18aug14 @ 09:47ET) is required to keep the process intact. It is like when parents try to be friends with their children, although nice on the surface, the end result is a child that loses all respect for the parent. Instead of a child listening to a parent’s advice he is now a child ignoring a friend’s advice.
How do you think the child will end up; disciplined and conditioned to society’s responsibilities or lost and confused wondering how to navigate life?
Although Oscar Leeser is not the elected officials’ commander or parent, he is nonetheless the presiding officer that must maintain order. You can now clearly see the results of Leeser’s attempt at being a “nice guy” – a city council about to be stagnated into a standstill unable to accomplish anything other than a childish spectacle.
If this public spectacle of government dysfunction is allowed to remain on checked then the recent spectacle that was the Socorro government breakdown with the majority of the Gandara’s going to jail will be replaced by El Paso being scrutinized from top to bottom by State and Federal authorities.
Oscar Leeser has two primary jobs, being an ambassador for bringing new jobs to El Paso and keeping order at city council so that the city’ business can be accomplished efficiently and timely. Lesser can’t even vote on the majority of council’s actions. In his zeal to be ambassador, he has lost sight of his other primary duty.
His legacy will be judged by what happens next.
Ultimately, it is the electorate that is responsible for the maturity level at city council. It clearly failed at this as evidenced by what is happening with the musical chairs.