Task force urges decorum on CAC, in community
Commission will offer civility training to members this summer
The late Rodney King once famously asked, "Can't we all just get along?"
The Clintonville Area Commission is going to give it the old college try.
Chairman Daniel B. Miller announced the formation of a task force on civility training at last week's monthly meeting. He appointed District 2 representative Nancy Kuhel to head the task force. The other members will be Shirley Hyatt, Susan Wallace and Dave Penniman.
In creating the panel, Miller said his hope is to help spread more civil interactions throughout the neighborhood by first training the members of the commission this summer.
Miller said he believes respectful interaction can improve communication and is "a prerequisite to an organization functioning properly.
"It makes our lives much more enjoyable," he added.
The task force is in response to what Kuhel and Miller described as a growing movement within Clintonville to foster more civility.
"Even the most civil in our community have moments of behavior that they later regret," Miller said.
An informal group called Positively Clintonville has formed in response to occasional episodes of unpleasant infighting among commission members over the last three to five years, Kuhel said.
"This is not unique to our community," she said.
The District 2 representative cited an April 14 article in U.S. News and World Report titled "The American Uncivil Wars."
The story cites a recent poll that shows nine of 10 Americans think incivility is a serious problem. It also reveals 78 percent think the problem has worsened over the last decade. More than 90 percent believe incivility contributes to the increase of violence, and 85 percent think it divides the nation and erodes values.
"This has really kind of taken hold throughout the community," Kuhel said.
Positively Clintonville adherents, she said, want to foster inclusiveness, truthfulness and respect for the opinions of others, while seeking to avert gossip and personal attacks.
"It's not about fixing past wrongs or slights," Miller said. "It's about making this the best community it can possibly be."
Former state Rep. Ted Celeste now conducts civility training for elected officials, and Kuhel said she and those on her task force will seek to have him provide a half-day instruction for commission members in August, with funding help from the city.
The training session would best be conducted in private, Kuhel said, and Miller asked neighborhood liaison Isom Nivins Jr. to seek an opinion from the city attorney's office whether all nine commission members can meet without violating open-meetings laws as long as they don't discuss official business.