Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Ditch the Blackberries
Ya gotta wonder how many of the players in this town are rejoicing that this is the last state budget cycle involving the Three Amigos Jennifer Granholm, Andy Dillon and Mike Bishop. Enough already, some folks must be thinking, as the trio has provided tons of drama, rhetorical ruffles and flourishes, but not much cooperation that any of the three could be proud of as they provided "leadership" on deciding how to spend your tax dollars. In fact in 2007 they managed to pull-off something that had not been done in modern history: An abrieviated state government shutdown. And here was part of the problem; much of the chatter between them was not face to face but key-pad to key-pad via their text message machines. During the height of the march toward a government shutdown in 2007, the governor disclosed that she was texting her two "friends" at least six or seven times a day and that number seems low. Yes, texting is expedient. Yes, texting beats smoke signals. But what texting prevents is the ability to read the other guys body language, his or her eye contact, the pitch of their voice, and a host of other non-verbal signals that could enhance the negotiation process. The instant communication between two parties, sometimes means the third party is left out. You probably had the situation where Bishop and Dillon were complaining how difficult it was for them to deal with her, and maybe she confided to Dillon that she and Bishop were not hitting it off. And by the time they sit down in the same room at the same time, all this back channel back biting had probably elevated the rancor between them so that grinding out a compromise was even more contentious and challenging. Years ago, somehow, lawmakers and governors managed to iron out budget difficulties and there were no cell phones and no texting exchanges. They did it the old fashioned way by meeting, talking, and giving and taking. Since the relationship between these key players is not so hot to begin with, maybe they can agree on something up front: Let's chuck these texting crackberries into the Grand River. Since they are addicted to those things, it's unlikely they'll do it but they should.