Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mediator Dominance

The not-canceled meeting called by Parks and Rec (PR) to get input from the PRAB Task Force was quite interesting. The meeting was totally framed and controlled by the Mediator, Elizabeth Suarez of Community Mediation Concepts. Calling in the “mediators” to get feedback seemed extreme. Maybe it indicates the mental state of the government staffers – fear that the crowd may become unruly and not do as they are told.

The room was replete with PR staffers – Patterson named 10 staff members in the room, and I’d include another 5 in the hallway. Some individuals tried to force their over-arching question on to the floor, but it was proclaimed that the question of whether or not fee-based events were going to be allowed (or were even legal) had already been settled.

Dividing the group into four separate subgroups insured that:

Only 25% of the people would get to hear any one statement by an individual

At least four people talking in the room at the same time would make it difficult to hear what the people at your table were saying (an issue that was raised and ignored)

Staff note takers controlled what got written down and how

In translation to the flip charts, comments were reduced to sound bites

The staff imposed limit to 4 topics would exclude questions regarding the legitimacy of the process, its legality, etc.

Isn’t the Task Force capable of running its own “feed-back” meeting, perhaps even coming up with its own draft of a policy statement, rather than let staff manipulate their comments and present their version, and then write the final version however they may want?

Joe Anderson’s comment seemed appropriate, “It just gets crammed down your throats. You’re against it, they’re just goin’, how can we get it over with quick and get it t’crammin’”.


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