NB Politicus

Should New Britain Follow Tulsa And Consider Mediation at City Hall?

Posted in city politics and government by nbpoliticus on February 25, 2011

A Mayor and City Council majority are facing a big divide over budgets, policies and ethics.
The verbal disputes get heated with name calling and over the top rhetoric that pit one branch of government against another. All of this is occurring weeks ahead of what will be a very difficult municipal budget process.

The situation sounds a lot like New Britain and the continuing breech between the Mayor, his Republican allies on the Council and the Democratic majority on the Council — a breech that grew worse when the Mayor lost a special election for state Senate this week and the Council leadership moved for a moratorium on city work for elected officials because of charges of favoritism towards them.

As much as it sounds like New Britain,  similar conflicts are occurring in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the idea of mediation has surfaced as a way to get the city’s business done.

The news story from a local TV station quotes a local judge that seemingly intractable differences could be addressed  “in 30 days” if all sides agreed to sit down.

TULSA, OK — There’s talk of reconciliation between Tulsa’s Mayor and the City Council.

The mayor and council might go into mediation to talk out their problems – and Thursday both sides took a step in that direction.

With Mayor Bartlett looking on, the City Council quizzed two retired judges about whether they could repair the mayor and council relationship.

“We can get for you what you want for the citizens of Tulsa and we can do that through mediation,” Sam Joyner, a retired judge, said.

Sam Joyner and Daniel Boudreau have offered to serve as unpaid mediators and think they can settle the issues.

“If everyone wants to participate in the process, I think we could get it done in 30 days,” Joyner said.

A short list of the issues includes the claim that Bartlett and Terry Simonson lied to the council and their ethics complaint against him. There’s an allegation the council shouldn’t have a city attorney, a lawsuit claiming the council violated the open meetings act and a threatened defamation lawsuit as well.

New Britain should be a big enough town to identify a judge or mediator who would enjoy the confidence of all sides so that the city’s business could get done.  It’s a certainty that the political and personal differences that have arisen aren’t likely to be eliminated. But a reduced level of acrimony, respect for the rules and charter and some greater level of constructive communication between elected officials from opposite parties are in the best interests of the city.

If they are out there judges or diplomats may apply at City Hall.