Commissioners Vote Against Doing Things ‘Progressively’
Moore County has a new vision for local government — conservative, not progressive.
My first reaction was impatience when the county commissioners raised the subject of changing the Mission Statement at a recent meeting. The meeting was stretching toward two and a half hours, and I was tired and hungry (the board meets at dinner time — but without dinner).
Further, I’ve never had much patience with mission statements. Maybe I lack vision myself. Establishing goals and purposes is a worthy concept, but the lack of specificity in a mission statement usually causes my eyes to glaze over.
But I sat up when Nick Picerno, the board chairman, said he wanted to delete the word “progressively” from the Vision portion of the Mission Statement, which then read: “Governing progressively with innovative leadership and providing exemplary public service.” He wanted to substitute the word “conservatively.”
Tim Lea, who frequently disagrees with his colleague, went along with use of the word “conservatively” but didn’t want to shelve progressiveness. He proposed leaving “progressively” in and adding “conservatively.”
Nick would have nothing of it and won the day, with fellow commissioners Jimmy Melton and Craig Kennedy joining him. Tim voted no, and the change passed 3-1. Larry Caddell was out of town on business and missed the meeting. In my opinion, Larry lucked out this time.
At first, I figured it was just a matter of Nick’s ideological outlook, which is decidedly right of center when it comes to government spending and social issues.
For a long time, I’ve had a problem with political distinctions between conservatism and liberalism.
I remember a day when progressiveness was not equated with liberalism and was actually seen as a good thing. Without progressives, we would still be driving buggies and communicating by hollering down the road.
But Nick says he has nothing against being progressive. After all, he is something of a computer software tycoon himself. He tells me that a new definition of progressiveness places the government in the position of solving all problems.
“I look at government as being the solution only when there is no private sector solution,” he told me.
In other words, less government works better than too much government.
“We (the government) should be the last resort, not the first resort,” he said. “There may be a private sector solution, and that should be tried first.”
Nick insisted that his interpretation of the word has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans.
“Being a progressive today means that you want to let the government be the leader in solving all your problems, and I don’t believe that’s the way to go,” he said.
Clearly, he and I differ on semantics.
Our debate so intrigued me that I turned to Google and Wikipedia. Apparently the mission Statement has become so deeply entrenched in the public mind that it merits numerous items online. You can even find assistance in writing a mission statement on the Web.
My well-used Webster’s does not list “mission statement” and provides rather fuzzy descriptions of both “vision” and “mission.” The dictionary lists multiple definitions of progressive, including successive steps forward or onward.
To me, being progressive means acceptance of new concepts and fresh understandings of society. I don’t associate it with either of the Progressive Party movements of the 20th century, one a split in the Republican Party, the other a left-leaning party. Neither lasted very long.
I’m not opposed to being conservative, but I don’t see how one can have vision without being progressive. And I’m not talking about government expenditures.
Frankly, I don’t think the change really matters. Semantics aside, I doubt many Moore Countians know the Mission Statement exists, much less its Vision.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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