2014-09-11 / Opinion

Board, Commission Members True CIVIL Servants

One day, when the philosophers, critics—whatever you want to call them—sit down to write about the times we live in, we doubt whether anyone will refer to these days as an age of civility.

Most often, it seems to us, people seem to want to argue, if not actually fight, about a lot of things that could and should be resolved in a more friendly manner.

So with that in mind, we offer kudos to the panels and commissions of Newport city government. We loudly applaud panels such as the Planning Board, Zoning Board and Historic District Commission that deliberate with unusual respect for each other, divergent opinions notwithstanding.

In covering formal meetings of these and other panels, our reporters have seen one member passionately argue a point before casting a vote and, when finished, politely turn to the next member and say something such as, “The floor is now yours”—even when that person was clearly poised to cast an opposing vote.

This type of thing typically occurs from one end of the table to the other.

Contrast this admirable behavior with what typically occurs in the Rhode Island House and Senate as the close of the annual General Assembly session draws near. Or, think about the behavior displayed at local board and commission meetings and contrast that behavior to, say, a congressional debate pitting liberal Democrats against Tea Party Republicans.

The other thing to consider is this—Newport’s board and commission members VOLUNTEER their time. Without financial compensation, with their own busy work and family lives to consider, they don’t have to spend many hours each month studying and listening to what would seem to many folks like endless blather about difficultto understand topics.

But they do it because they are people who believe in the value of public service—accomplished in a civil manner.

For that, we commend them!

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