David Madore's Pro Tips
Public Comment Edition
As an elected offical, taking public comment can be tough. Not only do you have to sit through all of these people just talking before you can go ahead and do whatever you want, but--apparently--you're also supposed to look like you're listening.
Some people just don't understand how hard the elected official's life can be. Especially for an official who paid good money to get his seat. We asked new commissioner and motion-control enthusiast David Madore just how he does it!
Here were the tips he offered.
1. Honor the people's voice. The best way to do this is by manipulating the published agenda, putting the item that the majority of people want to discuss at the very end, and hoping that most of them will get tired of waiting, give up, and go home.
2. Just after making a move like (1), tell the crowd of 300 that you value their voice and look forward to hearing them talk. Interpret their boos and derisive laughter as a universal endorsement of everything you do.
3. When in doubt, tell your audience that the only reason they're opposing you is because they just don't understand. Instead of explaining, repeat an empty platitude about the value of free speech.
4. If calling them stupid doesn't quiet them down, tell the ones who oppose you that they're just being smug. Then sit back in your comfortable chair, fold your arms and nod victoriously.
5. Staff can't be trusted to create reports using the figures that you want to represent as facts. Change their reports right before your public meeting and keep those fingers crossed you have them too scared of you to do anything about it!
6. If staff is forced to admit that you changed their reports, plead ignorance. How were you to know that ideology isn't an appropriate substitute for objectivity? Things are so mixed-up here in the public sector.
7. If, during a public comment session, more than 80% of the commentary opposes your actions and decisions, accuse your opponents of being shipped in from out of town.
8. If that doesn't get them to stop pointing out all of the legal, economic, procedural, policy-related, and ethical holes in all of your plans and actions, remind them that you're the one in charge now. The people might have just spent 6 hours telling you what they think, but they need to remember: You speak for the people. You're the only one who knows what the people want, no matter what the people actually say.