Slip Sliding Away
The notion that our small town civic leaders would need the services of consultants and professional pollsters, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, to understand the opinion of their constituents on any certain issue doesn’t sound much like a small village. Civic leaders being grounded in their community and knowing its citizen’s opinions without outside help is the quiddity of local control.
Alas the issue of under grounding the utilities in the canyon has resulted in our city council spending large sums of money in an effort that looks more like one to shape public opinion than an effort to understand the opinions of Laguna’s citizens.
There are now allegations that the polling being conducted on this proposal is designed to push respondents into the right answers. And the recent informational postcard we all received with its dominating picture of a burning utility pole seemed more intended to inflame opinion than to inform it. It may even have been an illegal expenditure of public funds supporting a potential ballot measure.
In response, some opposition to this very expensive undertaking has started to take an ugly turn. Having passion about the issues that confront our town is a good thing. But we must remember that we are all going to live together after the battle is over and that we all want the same thing, a better Laguna.
You can’t really blame the council for the questionable steps they have taken. Bless their hearts. They all ran for office with the motive of doing good for their community. It’s just that they’ve been in a small room for too long and may be suffering from group think. Blame it on a “staff” infection.
Group think is when you know you’ve got the right answer and if only you had the resources you could convince all those uninformed nay sayers of the error of their ways. It results when those in your small group constantly reinforce the theory being supported and shun any critics from outside as being uninformed to the true facts, which only you possess.
One of the better examples of group think was when the CIA convinced President Kennedy that the world would never pin the Bay of Pigs invasion on the United States. That looks pretty silly in hindsight.
The council would be well served to look beyond that crowd of sycophants and camp followers surrounding them to see if they really are leading a movement. If they get it wrong, they could be just sliding down a slippery slope out the door.
JJ Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11. He has loved it ever since.