Getting along

FI-EditorialIs there an expiration on Christmas cheer? The holidays were only two and a half weeks ago, but when it comes to some of Greenwich’s key boards, whatever happened to peace on Earth and good will to men and women?

A nice chunk of November and December was dominated by all the drama surrounding the Board of Education’s leadership. And now that all the visible dysfunction and disagreement there has been put aside (or at least had the pause button pushed for the next 10 months), it’s the Board of Estimate and Taxation’s (BET’s) turn to step up and entertain those who can’t stand having to wait for new episodes of shows like House of Cards and Game of Thrones to premiere.

Issues continue to flare up, and with such critical work ahead, are we destined for an antagonistic budget process?

The hope, naturally, is that we won’t be. For all the worry about last year’s budget, the actual number approved ended up being a compromise, where both sides worked together. Greenwich should demand that same result again, with both parties working together on a fiscal plan for all residents.

But with this week’s committee assignments from newly re-elected Chairman Michael Mason, there are sore feelings on the Republican side over who will chair the budget committee to go right alongside a dispute among the Democrats over who will lead their caucus. Those can be solved internally, and we have every reason to believe they will be. After all, everyone here is an adult.

However, there is a deeper issue that flared up this week between Mr. Mason and Democrat Sean Goldrick after Mr. Mason took away all of Mr. Goldrick’s committee assignments. Mr. Mason claims that Mr. Goldrick has not been a contributing member and has acted as a deliberate obstructionist, while Mr. Goldrick, who is a columnist here at the Post, claims he is being punished for advocating strong Democratic points in a town that prefers “go along, get along” ways where whatever the Republican status quo is continues.

One thing both men seem to agree on is that they don’t believe this is personal. Mr. Mason says he likes Mr. Goldrick and Mr. Goldrick says he doesn’t feel this is about him as a person but rather about him as a Democrat. We’re not here to referee this. Too much goes on beyond the public meetings of the boards in this town for any observer to pretend they know everything.

Mr. Mason does have the power to do this and Mr. Goldrick is a very strong personality, as Post readers no doubt are aware. But Mr. Goldrick, in our view, has also been a contributing member, putting forth needed bipartisan reforms to improve the underperforming town pension fund and advocating for badly needed capital projects. It’s on these two to settle this, though.

Republicans also have a tendency in this town to not like it when Democrats actually campaign for things. It’s a symptom of having unbreakable power pretty much since the days of the horse and buggy. But that’s the way of politics, and the voters very strongly said last November they like the Republican way of doing things on the BET.

Both Mr. Mason and Mr. Goldrick are good men who are not shy with their points of view. There has to be a way for them to work together even when they don’t agree. There’s going to be a lot of talk about reform on town boards in the months to come, and it will do no one any good if this just tears people apart even further.

Sometimes stifling someone’s voice is the wrong thing to do and sometimes you have to learn to work within a system. Compromise is necessary, not just in the work that’s done but also in how that work is done.

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