A hard lesson, relearned

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To the editor:

I read with great fascination your editorial about the Suffolk redistricting. While the facts of this situation are mostly represented in your editorial, one must also realize that in politics perception is 90 percent of reality.

When this routine decennial chore is undertaken, it is imperative that it be done clearly and in the open to dispel any notion that anything underhanded is going on.

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In the case we see for Suffolk, too many internal struggles were pushed ahead as “the agenda” by the way staff handled this issue, according to some.

To assume that a plan and map can or should be drawn behind closed doors — no matter who the map’s developers might be, what their race is or what directions they may have received from council — only insured that those who do not like the outcome will have a soapbox to stand upon in the public square and declare foul, far and wide.

The real lesson of this fiasco is that Suffolk’s leaders ignored the fact that we must have our public servants and politicians function in the cleansing reality of sunshine, where all they do is in the open. There should have been early listening sessions with all the communities and direct engagement to ensure other ideas were heard, before the map from staff was even contemplated.

While I do believe the final outcome was reasonable, it was much more difficult than it should have been and it served only to divide us further. These wounds will be healed by good people, no doubt, but it just did not need to happen the way it was done.

Perhaps we will not have to relearn this hard lesson too many more times.

Roger A. Leonard
Suffolk