Just the facts, ma’am

The title is attributed to Joe Friday, the lead character in the radio and TV series Dragnet from the early 1950s. It’s a catchphrase, but it’s also good advice.
In this day and age of every story being remastered by spin doctors, it’s important to hearken back to this one liner bit of advice, “Just the facts ma’am”. 
It doesn’t matter if one is dealing with stories or issues at the international level down to the smallest of household disputes, it’s important to know the facts. Without the facts, sheer reaction is always easier, backlash soon follows, then everything becomes emotional. Pretty soon it’s all about emotions and feelings. By then, the facts are pretty much trampled into the mud.
Take the spate of aboriginal protests across the country. A time and date is set, so is the location. The people show up, the media shows up, the RCMP show up. People walk around blockading traffic or holding a circle dance or making some speeches. Sometimes all three. Press releases go out, ah yes, the inevitable press release. The media grabs onto it, regurgitates it and then throws in a five second TV clip showing protesters clumped around the camera. Then the media’s job is done, right?
Wrong! There’s rarely a discussion of the real issues.
When I get press releases, I have started to fire them right back with questions attached to it. Guess what? I have yet to get answers from the “Idle no more” group. No answers, no explanation of the issues, nothing.
Some media have actually dug into the facts and with a budget that allows them to travel far to do so. For example, CBC went to Attawapiskat and did a documentary on spending and living conditions. It wasn’t pretty. Twenty modular homes were delivered to the community but they couldn’t get them hooked up to sewer and water. Funny how a lot of houses never had a sewer and water 50 years ago and people survived. One would think that a modular home, hooked up to electricity, would be a lot better than a tent. Neither one has water or a sewer. There may well be more to that story, but I’m just saying if you can live in a tent without a sewer, water or electricity, perhaps you should be able to live in a modular home with only electricity.
Sun Media has done a lot of work analyzing the Attawapiskat audit and it doesn’t appear to be pretty. Less than 2,000 people and the budget seems astronomical. Looks like, and I emphasize looks like, a lot of corruption and misspending.
But instead of getting really bent or vocal about this case or any other case, it would be very helpful if we all looked at just the facts. Knowing and understanding the facts almost always leads to a better solution than emotion and reaction.
If an appropriate sized leadership group looks at all the facts, the income, the expenses, the needs, the shortfalls, the advantages of a particular community, then good decisions can be made. Without that level of good governance, usually emotions and bad decisions follow. 
We have a lot of local issues, right here in our small rural communities, issues that could benefit from a “Just the facts” approach. That approach will lead to better decisions. Municipalities are all struggling with infrastructure issues, with escalating costs of providing services, with an increased demand for services from rate payers and due to downloading from senior governments. 
Municipal governments need to take a measured approach to every problem. A full analysis of a town or a municipality will reveal the level of services that can and should be provided and at what cost. One simple example is that towns and municipalities tend to hide the real cost of providing water and sewer. Faced with periodic increases in water rates, councils tend to add on a little bit but without a real cost analysis, the rates may be totally unrealistic. The shortfall gets buried in the tax bill.  That’s wrong because taxes are supposed to go for funding services that can’t be billed out such as fire and policing and for debt repayment. Water and sewer services are readily identified and just as easily billable to the user. 
A little too much trivia in that last example, but it’s illustrative that a measured and factual approach gets better results than the reactive and emotional approach.

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247