Conflict among lawmakers and regulators is inevitable. Today, public policy disputes have the potential of polarizing communities with the affect of delaying important decisions on vital issues of public policy, often resulting in diluted policies or no action at all.
When important issues such as the existence of hundreds of deficit school districts, the storage of nuclear waste along the shores of Lake Huron, tracking, algae blooms in Lake Erie, disputes between city borders, government consolidations or paying water bills, to just name a few, it is crucial that our elected leaders put politics and emotions aside to find both short-term solutions and sustainable strategies for moving our nation, region and city forward.
Facilitation or mediation helps in resolving high-profile policy disputes and finds resolution through controversy and clarity amidst chaos. In fact, "collaborative governance," or carefully structured dialogues, facilitated by a trusted third party neutral, who is knowledgeable about the issues and the process, while being sensitive to the politics of the day, could offer a more effective and durable method to resolving conflicts and building consensus around controversial and often complex public policy issues.
The Policy Consensus Initiative (PCI) was created to help governmental entities resolve disputes. Led by former governors, mayors and legislators, PCI provides the infrastructure by which to help governments resolve complex political disputes.
Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah governs through consensus. In fact, Mayor Becker is using it now to complete Salt Lake City's regional vision and launched Salt Lake Solutions to involve the community in solving problems.
Policy is generally made through comprise, but recently, policy in the City of Detroit, Lansing and in Congress, has been derailed because of politics. As a result, there is a greater need for the City Council and Mayor, Legislators and the Governor and Congress and the President to govern more based on collaboration and less around politics. Business needs stability and a lack of progress in Washington, Lansing and Detroit is creating an uneasy business environment for anyone to operate in.
As Detroit gets ready to emerge from bankruptcy, it should consider creating a process by which disputes can be resolved and policy issues can be addressed in a non-threatening matter, where all voices are heard and results are achieved through collaborative dialogue.
Through collaborative governance, policymakers can avoid making difficult decisions on controversial issues by creating a process by which public policy disputes can be resolved.
Through a facilitated collaborative process, issues such as government shutdowns, delayed projects, even regional transit can be avoided, and we can all move forward on to other issues to help our region or nation move forward. Decisions that are reached collaboratively can result in high-quality outcomes and innovative solutions that are easier to implement. It also creates an environment that allows for more productive action. It is time we brought in neutrals to help resolve the bigger issues plaguing our region.