Mark Twain understood the slippage of reality and fantasy; he felt certain that life was stranger than fiction. No doubt! Such a marvelous fiction writer!

A group recently contemplated how to fix a road. No question to anyone that the road should be fixed- everyone agrees! They hire experts (for a significant fee) to advise them how to fix said road. When the experts tell them how they should fix the road they say, “That will cost a lot of money.” They proceed to determine that they should ignore the recommendations of their experts and fix the road with a temporary fix/resurfacing. The experts tell them their way is acceptable but does not solve the problem. Everyone agrees that the same problem will appear again in a few years. They determine that this method is preferable because it is less expensive.

An attendee of this meeting said, “What about motorist safety?” This is a highly trafficked road and is the main artery that connects a town to a regional school and so most parents, and most children in the town, travel this strip of road numerous times a day. What followed this question was “we care first about motorist safety.” A conversation about motorist safety followed. A range of stories about accidents in this particular stretch of road were shared by many people. It seemed that the swamp that borders each side of this strip of road causes a range of “unusual driving conditions.” Moisture, animal crossings, and grooves in the road were reported as accident causes. Another attendee mentioned speed as a factor in numerous accidents. A person in the audience suggested that this might be an appropriate place to position guard rails to keep motorists out of the sink. The guard rails were discussed in terms of being expensive. Then I think that guard rails were added to the project budget/priorities and will be installed on this section of road as a result of this citizen generated dialogue. A vote was taken and the resurfacing project was approved.

Here is how one fixes the road in my utopia. The decision-making body consults their experts and pays them a significant fee to tell them what to do. Then they follow the advice of their experts. Cost is only one of many factors considered in decision-making; but most important to the decision-making body is to follow the recommendations of their professional expert staff. The main focus of the actions of my elected body focuses on solving the problem not create a “chain of events that will have to be dealt with another time” especially when one of the possible chain reaction events could be a family going off a road in our town. Because taxation is a central driving force in all municipal decision-making, if additional funds are needed that exceed existing grants, then the research and work is completed to come up with creative funding solutions to significant road improvement projects.

My utopia also includes an email eblast to the community before each township meeting with a copy of the agenda before the township meeting, or a post to the township website,  so that the community can learn online what will be discussed at the upcoming meeting. My utopian goverment would also provide the “pending minutes” from the last meeting so citizens can follow important threads and prepare for the meetings.

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