Guest View: Councilman apologizes for ‘arrogance and ego’
With a new year comes a time for reflection and resolution, and even new beginnings.
For the past three years, I have had the privilege of representing you as a member of your city council. Over those years, many things have been accomplished, and a number of things are yet unfinished.
I am most proud of having been part of a team that has not only brought our city’s finances under control, but also has actually created a sound reserve consistent with good management practices. The beginning of construction of the much-needed convention center/hotel with its much-improved environmental impact and open space will reinvent our local economy and provide much-needed jobs, especially in the shoulder seasons, for locals.
There have been many less-obvious advances also, including improved bus routes to serve our young people and the Boys & Girls Club’s after-school programs, paving repairs at the senior center, improved parking to serve the parents and students at St. Theresa, work on rent stabilization for our seniors and others on fixed incomes living in our mobile-home parks, the development of quality affordable housing, and a new way of dealing with the gang issues and graffiti, to mention a few.
But I am not writing to announce results and programs, but to share a discovery that I have made, and a sobering one it is. It has become clear to me that I have been insensitive and perhaps too confident in my style, and as a result have offended some of you from time to time. In my passion about issues and solutions to our problems, I sometimes have forgotten my audience and my responsibility to really hear you. I came to office with what I hoped were specific programs and mistook your vote as an endorsement of my interest. But I made an error, not so much in the ideas, but my method of communicating and relating to you.
The proposed roundabout at the “Y” is a good example. I was not in favor of the project at first, but after many hours of explanation and research, I became a supporter. While it became clear to me that it was the safest way to construct an intersection, my major reason for supporting it was the aesthetics, that it would be really beautiful, a wonderful welcome at the major entrance to our community. Almost immediately, there was opposition, and I, in my newfound knowledge and enthusiasm, failed to fully listen to your concerns. I am clear that I appeared arrogant and egotistical. I did not intend to do this. I am truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness. I now understand your fears, and they deserve my full attention.
The early effort at a citywide BID is another example. I ran on a platform of supporting the local economy, and I was pleased to see local businesses come forward to help themselves and pay their own way. The proposal, however, after final review was clearly flawed and did not have the support of important segments of the business community. It was far too broad in its inclusion of all business. I actually had that thought at the time, yet failed to act, and the result caused a great divide in our business community. My position and style on this matter combined to create an understandable perception by you of arrogance and ego on my part. I am concerned that my insensitivity and style created an unnecessary division in our town. I apologize for my role, and I want to correct it. Again, I ask for your forgiveness. I was wrong. I can only say I have learned from that lesson and will draw upon that knowledge as I enter my final year of this term.
In my view, our community truly is at a crossroads, between a real working middle-class town with schools, recreation and the services that actual residents need and want, or a “for the rich” resort town, like an Aspen or Vail. I will continue to stand for a strong and diversified local economy, jobs and affordable housing, as I always have. I know there are and always will be those who will disagree on the wheres, the whys and the hows, and this seems natural to me, as we are engaged in a democratic process.
My request is: Can we agree or disagree openly, without personal attacks? It seems to me that issues need to be fully debated, honestly and openly. I will continue to work toward creating new opportunity through community-oriented redevelopment, and encouraging the private sector, it will be done with local people in mind. Above all, I will continue to respond to the individual request for action ” a stop sign, a bus route, whatever it may be. You have my promise to be open and available. Can we start a new dialogue with these lessons in mind as we work together to improve our community and create a better future for all?
Thank you, and I hope you had a wonderful holiday and all your New Year’s resolutions come to pass.
” Ted Long is a member of the South Lake Tahoe City Council.
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