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Discussions may help, but problems run deep

The Fairmont City Council held a work session this week to try to take on some of its dysfunction. It was a good idea, and council members seemed to respond positively to talks with a collaboration and mediation manager. They hope to meet with her again in the future.

Through further dialogue, perhaps council members can reach agreement on some fundamental issues, such as treating each other with respect, really listening to one another and agreeing to disagree, when necessary.

But more is needed as well.

There are basic distrust problems among council members, and for the citizens who watch them. It isn’t just that council members have opposing views. It is that the views of the reigning majority are not well-explained. And their most controversial decisions do not yield beneficial results.

Yet they continue to march forward in alarming lockstep, somehow never differing from one another, as one might expect in the give-and-take of discussion and compromise. It’s like there is a pre-planned agenda, one not shared with the public. And there are deep concerns in the community about the majority unfairly, unwisely and illegally resorting to private chats to advance that agenda.

The majority claims it has wide public support, but we believe nothing could be further from the truth. We hear opposition to them all the time, from a “silent majority” of business and community leaders, and average citizens, who do not wish to jump into the political fray, given the sometimes scary way the majority acts. As do their allies, through a rabid social media campaign.

In the end, the most deeply rooted problem on the council is that the reigning majority is so wrong, so often. Yet they never see it, learn from it or acknowledge it. Mediation may help, but it probably will take the 2020 election to truly resolve things.

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