A future Councilman is advised against talking too much

COLUMBIA, Mo 11/21/05 (Archive) -- Before he became a Columbia City Councilman, citizen activist Karl Skala engaged in a months-long email debate with Sixth Ward Columbia City Councilman Brian Ash

Ash offered "advice" to Skala and other activists many viewed as downright galling.   People who "chime in on everything" are often just looking for "time in the spotlight," Ash said, forgetting that volunteer Council members like himself could be accused of the same "offense". 

Part Two of their debate starts with Ash's advice.    Click here for Part One. 
Nov. 21, 2005


I thought about sending this to you privately, but it seems like our E-mails all end up on the ListServ eventually anyway, so I thought I'd just go ahead and send it out for all to see, because most of my remarks apply not only to you, but to many others involved in this group.

When one sends E-mails on a multitude of topics and when you do get a response it leads to multiple counterpoints and lengthy ongoing debates, then unfortunately that person starts to get tuned out.
I'm not saying that's right, but it's just human nature.   It's a survival technique based on the fact that there are only so many hours in a day and you can either spend all of it dealing with one "high maintenance" person, or break it up and deal with 20 others who take up less of your time.

I mention this not to be critical, but rather to offer (unsolicited) advice on how to make progress on an issue.  Pick one topic that's most important to you and most feasible to achieve and focus on that one thing until it gets accomplished before moving on to the next one.   That means things will move slowly, but when someone chimes in on everything, they don't get listened to about anything.

That does not mean that inputs to Council are not welcome. One just needs to pick their battles wisely. Otherwise, one begins to question whether the person providing all the inputs truly cares more about the issues at hand or their own time in the spotlight.

Again, don't take these inputs personally.   They are meant as advice to many who contribute to this forum. Good ideas that get ignored don't accomplish anything.

Hope this helps,


Thanks for your advice.  Though e-mails were never intended to be private communications (especially when they involve elected representatives) those posted on public community ListServs are usually intended to serve a higher purpose, i.e., to inform the public debate.
To whom are you referring when you refer to "others involved in this group", and later " ... one 'high maintenance person'", or "... the person ... in the spotlight"?   And just exactly how do you determine what that person "truly cares" about?

All ideas should be evaluated on the basis of their merit and not on their number.   I am much more concerned about the content of those ideas and much less concerned about other's perceptions of my motivations for offering them.

Finally, I do not understand what you mean by "One just needs to pick their [your] battles wisely". Exchanging ideas is a civic responsibility, not a call to arms.   Good ideas that are ignored may be ignored by some, but good ideas that are never shared are effectively ignored by all.

May you and yours have a warm and happy holiday.

Best Regards,

On 11/21/05 12:45 PM, "Brian Ash" <brian@...> wrote:


There's often lots of testimony and inputs from various groups on many issues.  A point by point analysis of each and every one is simply impractical. I get your point.  I'm just being honest and realistic.

Nov 21, 2005


Believe me when I say that I appreciate your willingness to engage and respond, and your honesty.   Perhaps I should have said "the responsibility of elected officials is for a "reasonable and reasoned analysis".  I am not exactly sure what you mean by a "point by point analysis", but impractical is not a term consistent with representative government.  Ultimately, those that elect you determine practicality.

Thanks for listening and thanks for contributing.

Best Regards,


Next:   Does Councilman Ash want to issue a "gag" order? 

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