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LTE: Why Examining Difficult Topics is Important for City Council and All of Us

City Council grappling with challenging topics, including ethics, is a worthy endeavor.
Longmont City Council.

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City Council grappling with challenging topics, including ethics, is a worthy endeavor. Self-examination and discussing prickly topics can be challenging. But the benefits are healthier individuals and organizations. Things that make us uncomfortable are often the things most worth doing.

Tensions between Council members are affecting our whole community. We all have biases with tendencies to believe we are right and others are wrong. I once heard, “If you want to believe something, don't examine it.” Being open to feedback and self-reflection allows us to see our blindspots, reflect, learn, and grow into better selves.

Our current council members fundamentally respect one another. Therefore they are capable of having honest deliberations about ethics and other complex issues.  Sure these undertakings would take time and effort. I hope they rise to the challenge.

Ethical topics to consider exploring include: the unfinished business from the OUR Center/HOPE grant situation from a couple years ago, more transparent campaign finance reporting for council candidates, and conflict of interest policy for members of council, boards, and commissions. (Presently it is up to individuals with potential conflicts to decide whether they should recuse themselves from decisions; more clear and concrete guidance is needed.)  There are probably other ethics topics.

While not an ethics topic, another worthwhile subject is possibly renaming offensive street names to better reflect our changing values. Words matter. Inherent bias and structures of racism hurt all of us. While changing street names cannot alter societal norms, by “going there”, Longmont would join other communities across the country in debating whose history to preserve, and how.

Fairness is hard-wired into our brains and instincts. This explains why injustice is stressful and damaging to us individually and as a community/society. I hope our City Council finds the courage and conviction to take up ethics and other important touchy subjects by leaning in, not away.