Unanimity is for autocrats, lemmings

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By Richard Hannemann

Dear Editor,

I do not trust unanimity.  It seems to me that, usually, the only way to achieve it is when faced with dire need and/or only one option, or when in conversation with one’s self.  And yet...

 Recently, council was presented with an update on the animal shelter.  Councilors expressed a variety of concerns, some fairly serious, and engaged in lively debate.  Then they voted unanimously to proceed.

 Seems to be the pattern.  When considering the fate of the Municipal Building, councilors made statements which were very strong arguments for keeping/restoring/rebuilding the thing.  They then voted unanimously to flatten it.

 It is a very weird thing to observe.  You have to wonder how, actually, decisions are made, who is making them, and what role, if any, the “public comment” portion of the decision making process plays. 

Seems that most decisions are made informally amongst councilors and staff as they discuss/debate a given proposal well away from the public view.  Formal council meetings are little more than a rubber stamp session with “public comment” an exercise in futility. 

Councilors may be allowed to voice their objections at the time of the vote, but the decision to be made has already been made and unanimity is required.  Heavens forbid that there be any hint of dissent, discord, and, Saints preserve us, the actual chaos that comes from actual independent thinking.

 Note to current and future councilors:  preamble statements about an issue are an exercise in verbal gymanstics;  the vote is what counts.  If you don’t like something, don’t vote for it.  I would much prefer to see votes that are divided more often than not than to be left with the sense that Los Alamos is ruled with an iron fist and a silken muzzle.

Los Alamos