The Winter 2007 "Bay Leaves" arrived in the mail today. Looks like it's a bit late, as there are a number of announcements meant for December.
But the bigger story was the front page "Greetings from the Village President" by Katie Pritchard. Usually, Pritchard writes a quality, professional missive full of news items without histrionics. Not this quarter.
"Kudos to the many of you who took the time to determine the facts before responding to the rumors about CVS. The fact is that while CVS did look at a site on .. Silver Spring .. the Village has not received an application .. that would be required .. to proceed."
Umm. How are you supposed to interpret that? Pritchard identifies two types of people who are interested in the issue. Those that have the facts, kudos to them, and those who do not, who, to put it kindly, get no kudos.
And then there was:
"Unfortunately, some people were similarly misled when they were told that Village ordinances discourage restaurants on Silver Spring... I commend those of you who took the time to consult the website or contact our Village Manager to verify the facts in these situations and encourage all of you to consider the importance of sound information in good government decision making."Interpretation: Commendations to those who took the time to find out the facts. To those of you who don't know them, no commendations for your ignorance.
Hey, you know what would have been a better response here, instead of criticizing those who weren't as informed? How about informing them? While WFB did have some bits of information on this subject on the village website, they have since been removed.
At worst, however, what Pritchard should have taken away from this is that there is a lack of accurate information floating around the Village, and instead of complaining about the complainers, get on your horse, get a newsletter out, call a press conference, post a lengthy explanation on the website of what's happening, what the rules are, in short: COMMUNICATE!
Honestly, I'm flabbergasted with this very public poke in the eye to a segment of Village residents. Pritchard's jibes sounded like that first draft you write from your gut, including impolite things you want to say, but edit out in future drafts because you realize how unprofessional it sounds.
And for the record, I'm not insulted. Besides voicing my opposition to the possibility of CVS moving in, I went to the Village Board meeting where the Manager discussed the CVS situation, and WROTE about it here, sharing the information. -- I know people who've claimed WFB officially discourages restaurants and liquor licenses, but I have reserved judgment due to lack of facts, as I've personally never read that it has occurred.
I can imagine Pritchard's frustration, but there's an antidote to ignorance. Truth be told, the information flow in the Village is very weak. With shallow news coverage and, let's face it, a terrible village website, sidewalk chatter fills the void.
That should be WFB's New Year's Resolution: Better communication. If the newspapers won't do it, then updates should be plentiful on WFB's website. Minutes of official meetings should be posted quickly, not two months after the fact. When an issue, like Silver Spring or CVS comes up, a bulletin should be posted with all the relevant information and frequently asked questions. That's how you combat public ignorance.
Or how about .. start a blog! Imagine what a few paragraphs each week from the Village President or Manager would do for information flow and community dialog!