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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


Can't we all just get along?

The next year of city government will likely be full of harmony compared to 2011, the new chairman of City Council said.

Council President Tom Smith, R-1st, said he expects to oversee a “professional” council focused on getting work done without the partisan bickering that dominated much of 2011. Smith was unanimously voted this year's council president Monday in an annual reorganization meeting.

“It's going to be much more cooperative and cordial. Everybody seems to be on the same page on that,” he said. “We just want to turn over a new leaf, forget the rancor and bickering and work together.”

I think this comes under the heding of "potential good news, but let's see where it goes."

I've seen a lot of government boards over the years that take this peace and harmony stuff to unhelpful extremes. They don't want a whiff of cotroversy -- or even contention -- to taint the public meetings, so they iron their differences out in private before the public meeting. Among other things, this practice deprives the public of the robust discussion needed to fully understand what the board is doing in the public's name and with the public's money.

The Fort Wayne City Council in the last few years has gone to the other extreme. There is a fine line between vigorous partisan disagreement and nasty partisan sniping, and this council racked up a lot of frequent flier miles in crossing it. Honest differences of opinion can still be civil, whether between council blocs or one bloc and the city administration. Harmony should not be the egoal, however, merely the operating principle