Public Servant, Political Analyst, Professor

Latest Articles

The Dark and Cold of Fall 2019

My youngest granddaughter was both excited and alarmed as we went out to dinner. It was cold, and it was dark. The cold she loved; it meant she could wear her bunny jacket. The dark disturbed her. She still hasn’t gotten used to the combination of the shorter days of fall and the end of […]

Public Provocation and the Higher Standard of Ethics

This past Thursday, I spent 90 minutes discussing the daunting realities of managing public comment at meetings and simulating the challenges municipal officials face in these difficult and sometimes painful periods. With the help of a cast of Oscar-caliber role-players, all of them elected municipal officials, the simulations gave sound and fury to the dry […]

Dealing with Insults: Remember Who You Are

A friend and colleague recently caught my attention with a succinct and compelling description of what it is like to have to digest and respond to public comments on municipal social media pages during times of controversy: He called it “snacking on hate.” To say that vicious commentary is common in the social media universe […]

‘You’re Right’: Discovering the Space Between Us

There’s a scene in Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye gets caught up in a debate about some matter of faith. One friend makes a declaration and Tevye says, “You’re right!” Then another friend makes the opposite declaration and Tevye says, “You’re right!” Then a third friend chastises Tevye, pointing out that these two statements […]

As You ‘Like’ It: A Caution about Social Media Engagement

Politicians, so the stereotype says, love to talk. The best political leaders, however, love to listen, too. Of course, effective listening involves a certain amount of speaking. One must periodically acknowledge, question or affirm simply to assure the speaker that you are paying attention. With so much discourse taking place through social media, “speaking” as […]