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With a decision, a test of character

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

A test of character follows and is graded in terms of how you behave once the game is over, once a decision is rendered.

Last week, the Pagosa Springs Town Council gave the go-ahead to proceed with the full plan for development of amenities on Reservoir Hill. Many residents of the area oppose the plan, or most parts of the proposal, and we are among them.

By a 5-2 vote, the council decided the idea is worth pursuing and the process moves to the next step — finding the funds needed to bring the plan to fruition.

In the meantime, we hear things stirring in Pagosa Country that are troubling — things that, in microcosm, mirror trends in American politics that have been building for some time now. We find these tendencies linked to the Reservoir Hill plan; we find them associated with the controversy concerning a proposed Wal-Mart.

The trend is to demonize political opponents, to cast aspersions, to call names, to libel those who disagree with you, to create and widen a divide between people with differing ideas. This has become the American way — a radically partisan means of dealing with conflicting plans, ideas, theories.

It is wrong.

It is wrong because a divide is placed between people with essentially common interests, regardless of their divisions on specific issues. Conflict during the process leading to a decision is essential; conflict following the decision, if such conflict does not lead to improvement or a positive resolution, is destructive. To everyone concerned.

Ideas clash; a resolution is reached.

Your idea loses, it’s time to go to the house. If you are compelled to call names, to paste abusive labels on opponents, to create and pass unfounded rumors … shame on you.

If your idea wins the day and you gloat, if you are not accountable for the results of the decision … shame on you.

If a plan moves forward and goes awry, if the wrong people benefit from the process (such as anyone, in this case, who played a role in the development of the plan), if we fail to monitor the results of a decision … shame on us.

At the end of the day, members of the town council who voted in favor of the plan did so with as much integrity as those who voted against. There is not a member of that voting bloc who does not care deeply for the town and its future. Those who voted in favor are longtime residents, two of them natives. They disagreed with those of us who oppose most aspects of the plan. That’s it. They are not evil. They are not engaging in back room deals. They are not rubbing their hands in anticipation of profit.

If you don’t like the way the vote went, replace the council members whose votes you don’t appreciate.

The way to do this is at the ballot box.

It seems, now, that each time there is a controversial decision by a government body, there are those who call for a public vote, a referendum. This is wrong: We are a representative democracy, with individuals elected to embody the electorate, to make decisions in light of what they think is best for the community. If you don’t agree with them, step up and run for office. In this case, if you live outside town boundaries, find candidates, then provide support. That is the way it should be done.

And, if you choose to engage this process, there is no need for name calling, casting aspersions, nastiness and abrasive behavior. Get on with it, do it the honorable way … or stay in the house.

Karl Isberg

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