Editorial: Let cooler heads prevail

A report on the conduct of certain Oak Harbor City Council members serves as a simple reminder that it’s best to keep a cool head when serving in a leadership position.

The report takes Councilman Paul Brewer to task for losing his temper in a recent meeting, and criticizes councilwomen Sue Karahalios and Sheilah Crider for goading on the volatile Brewer, “perhaps for political gain.”

The report by an independent legal consultant was requested by Mayor Patty Cohen after a particularly animated council workshop meeting. No threats were made; nevertheless, some felt threatened.

The report is of particular interest because both Brewer and Karahalios are running for mayor and their names will be on the August primary ballot, along with the third candidate, Jim Slowik.

The preparer of the report, Seattle attorney Michael Bolasina, did a thorough job of investigating the incident and his conclusions appear sound. Brewer did get too angry, and Karahalios and Crider might well have enjoyed prodding him on until the outburst occurred.

In the end, there was no permanent harm done. Brewer has served a dozen years on the council, long enough to prove he’s not prone to such extreme outbursts. Passion certainly doesn’t disqualify him from being an effective mayor, should voters opt to make that happen. The behavior of his two adversaries simply makes obvious to the public that the council members don’t work well together, and that’s one reason little gets accomplished. Of course, Brewer is an adult and responsible for his own behavior, no matter how much he was prodded.

Brewer no doubt will keep his temper in check in future meetings, and Karahalios and Crider will be more careful in any future Machiavellian manipulations.

Not much work can get done when council members are angry at each other or conspiring to make one another look bad. Keep cool, remember you’re working for the public good, and set personal differences aside when conducting the public’s business.

One good way to assure better council behavior in the future is to broadcast the workshop sessions just like the regular sessions are presently broadcast. The TV camera requires a more professional approach to the city’s business and keeps the people better informed of the council members’ comments as well as their conduct. And if they still can’t control themselves, the TV ratings will likely soar, allowing the city to make some money selling commercial time for its broadcasts. Perhaps the makers of Excedrin would be interested in sponsoring the workshops.

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