Government’s three R’s: Respect, Responsibility and Routine

The City of Elkins celebrated the signing of House Bill 4339 to lift the financial burden associated with closing the Elkins-Randolph County Landfill Wednesday. We can be proud that local people used their time and intelligence to solve this expensive problem.

National news commentators say the American system of government is broken and current political gridlock will destroy democracy as we know it. Nevertheless, the efforts of our City Hall staff and elected officials have paid off for the good of all the citizens of Elkins. Government is not so hopeless in the heartland.

During the Great Depression, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration, he spoke of the Three R’s: Relief, Recovery and Reform. These were the guiding principles of the WPA, and it helped thousands of unemployed people find jobs building roads, parks and other public infrastructure.

We need to think about what works best for the most people now. In my 15 years of working on projects for the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission, City Tree Board and Municipal Properties Committee for the Kump Center,

I have identified three things that help people work together better. My new three R’s for 21st century government are Respect, Responsibility and Routine.

Respect leads to cooperation. If we assume that someone else is not smart enough to understand what we are saying, we will not communicate effectively. If we assume that others are dishonest, we will not try to work with them. Showing respect inspires the best in everyone because respect begets respect.

Responsibility makes the credible execution of plans possible. Each of us must take responsibility for our own actions and be sure we do what we say we will do. If we do not carry out our duties, nobody can depend on us and we hinder group progress.

Routine gives structure to shared daily activities. Government is slow because many points of view have to be considered before a plan can be developed. Once a plan is adopted, the funding has to be made available, and the proper procedures have to be followed to ensure fair practices. Patient and orderly persistence are necessary.