Our View: Public officials do well when taking the high road




Writing tips for when you are angry.


1. Pour out your emotions, leaving no doubt about how deeply you are offended by the other person's conduct/comments.


2. Be sure to make it personal with a lot of "why don't you?" references.



3. Close document. Wait 30 seconds then add a few "furthermores" and "another things."


4. Hit the delete key.


We are reminded of these tips by Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong's letter to the editor last week in response to a letter to the editor published the previous day from Columbus resident Bob Raymond.


Raymond wrote about his experience with a homeless woman he had encountered. When he called the Columbus Police Department to ask for an officer to give the woman a ride to a hotel room that had been provided to her, he was told CPD policy wouldn't allow it due to COVID. He criticized the police for not helping someone in need.


He concluded the letter by writing: "... In Columbus, (police) can arrest someone for not wearing a mask, put them in their car and take them to jail but they can't give a woman, wearing a mask, a ride to a homeless shelter.


We pause here to acknowledge that it can be difficult to suffer insult in silence, especially when you feel the criticism is unfair or unkind. No doubt, public officials are subject to a fair share of criticism, sometimes warranted, other times not. Public service can be a thankless job.


Armstrong's letter made that pretty clear.


Armstrong called Raymond's letter "asinine" and assuming Raymond did not give the woman a ride, wrote: "Well, sir, if that's not hypocrisy, then I don't know what is. Ebenezer Scrooge would have been very proud of."


If this were an exchange between two private citizens, we would be inclined to accept the tit-for-tat tone. But when public servants respond in such fashion, it may produce a chilling effect among residents. We believe that citizens have every right to level criticism toward city officials and that when city officials respond in anger, those officials undermine their own standing in the community.


We suspect, but do not know, that if Armstrong had followed the above writing tips, he may have decided not to respond at all or, if he did choose to respond, he would have confined his response to citing the policy in question and explaining why that policy had been implemented.


Readers would then be free to agree with the policy or disagree, but at the very least, they would have been provided some insight and the end result would be of some value.


As published, however, Armstrong's letter shed plenty of heat, but no light.


There's no value in that.




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