TUSD’s Hicks: Are we ‘civil’ servants?by tcguestblogger on Sep. 22, 2011, under Government
by Michael Hicks
TUSD Governing Board Member
Ever since the tragic shooting of so many innocents at the hands of a mentally ill man, Tucsonans, and the whole country for that matter have engaged in a discussion of civility and civil discourse. City Councilperson, Karin Uhlich says rightly that civility is a core value of Tucson.
Until now, the discussion has focused solely on the supposed lack of civility by the public. It ignores the lack of civility by us, the elected officials; those of us who are supposed to be “civil” servants to the public.
Just recently both the TUSD and Tucson City Council determined that it was going to begin enforcing “civility” rules on those addressing the their boards. TUSD’s Board, of which I am a member, conducted a coup against Dr. Mark Stegeman because he put the First Amendment before Board members’ intolerance of what they perceived to be uncivil speech. His replacement, Miguel Cuevas stopped a speaker for “impertinence” which is now the new definition of incivility.
These recent actions by elected officials beg the question; how civil are we? Our uncivil behavior in the form of poor decision making is the primary source of their ‘incivility.”
More often than not, it is the public’s very feeling that they are not being heard, that is the cause of “incivility.”
Let’s be honest, if a person comes before our Boards time and time again saying the same thing over and over again; we stop listening if there is no new information.
If a person comes before us and rants, we don’t listen. They have a right to speak no matter how ineffective they might be.
I want to hear from the public. I don’t want them to be polite, I want them to be honest, and I will return the favor. The public must feel free to tell me what I am and am not doing right. I will take the time to explain my actions. I might not like what the public has to say, and they might not like what I have to say, but we can’t stop listening.
We are experiencing difficult times. People feel disenfranchised and disconnected. The frustration can be heard in voices from all sectors. We have a long way to go, and a lot of damage in our government al organizations to fix, we can’t shut down the taxpayers, or they will most surely shut us down.