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SARATOGA SPRINGS—At the last Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 15, something happened for the first time since I started covering these proceedings in 2009.
I walked out early. At 11 p.m.
I’ve always considered it a point of pride to stay on until the end of these meetings, because sometimes I might pick up an item that grows into a story after my colleagues at dailies have to dash to make their deadlines.
It’s also a matter of respect for those who are at the end of the agenda. And, for you who reads this.
But quite frankly, folks, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
These meetings are way too long to be useful. They aren’t starting to get out of hand—they’re already way out of hand, they have been for some time and someone has to protest. So it falls to me.
As a writer, I was taught early on that the receiver of a message is at least as important as the sender. Thus, if I fail to make clear, concise, understandable points, I lose the reader.
So how’s this? Council—you are losing people.
With your endless agendas, discussions that are repetitive, rambling and have no structure.
This is not meant as a slam against any individual. In my opinion, some council members are worse than others, but as a collective body you are, I’m sorry, terrible.
But I am sympathetic to your situation. For I confess that here at the paper I’m the undisputed champ of “long-winded-ism.” I never met an attention span that I couldn’t outlast. Ask anyone.
So I have to force myself to be disciplined and realize that someone is giving you an honor when they give you their attention, or in your case, Council, attend your meetings.
Abuse that privilege and they learn to stay away.
Out of that discipline, I have now learned to detail my point of view concisely.
And so I’m here to offer help.
Perhaps the next Mayor will decide to have someone from the private sector take a look at things, for no private company stay in business with over four hour board meetings twice a month.
Perhaps she (side note: interesting to not write he/she for once) will forward that person this note. Here are some suggestions that once employed, are guaranteed to make these marathon meetings efficient and meaningful. Guaranteed, I say.
Oops, I must have fallen in love with the sound of my voice again and run out of space, so I guess I’ll have to learn the lesson again to be more respectful to you, the receiver and your time.
If I am lucky enough to get another chance.