They’re not the same.
Your disposition is what others see. It’s like the screen on your computer monitor. Attitude, though, is like the software quietly running in the background.
There’s been much discussion here in the past month or so about the disposition of the Augusta Commission, which often is less than exemplary. Commissioners, many of them anyway, admit the group has problems with decorum and manners – toward one another and toward employees and others who speak before them.
But that’s just a matter of disposition.
What’s really needed is an attitude adjustment.
It’s attitude – often malware running in the background – that causes the commission not just to be indecorous, which is bad enough, but dysfunctional – which affects taxpayers, property owners and inhabitants alike.
Just consider the absolute asymmetry of what occurred on Sept. 17: While the Aiken County, S.C., council approved a $144 million development on the river, Augusta Commissioners argued over whether to call downtown a “slum” in order to get redevelopment funds.
In the end, they couldn’t agree – and then they couldn’t even agree to have another meeting about it!
Think about that for a minute. One community is in the process of approving a $144 million development, and just across the river another community’s elected leaders are arguing, without resolution, over whether they should attach the word “slum” to their city.
A while back, the Augusta Commission couldn’t even agree to adding a pedestrian bridge between a parking garage and the city’s new convention center. Of course, they already had argued over the convention center and parking garage for years, too.
We want regional cooperation, certainly. But Augusta leaders also should understand that they are competing with nearby communities – North Augusta and Columbia County, primarily – for economic development.
They just saw their clock cleaned by North Augusta. While they were arguing over the word “slum.”
Much of it comes down to attitude.
Here’s the problem, inadvertently highlighted by Commissioner Marion Williams when he said recently, “When the money comes in, it goes in the same direction. Follow the money. It goes to one side of the city.”
Envy doesn’t get you anywhere. And it’s often misplaced – as noted by the anonymous AugustaChronicle.com commenter who wrote, “(Williams) is right. The city of Augusta is paying Hyde Park residents to move anywhere they choose. Also tenants of Cherry Tree Crossing can get free counseling and education services that will teach them how to move. Augusta has a $37.5 million project to redevelop Laney-Walker and Bethlehem. You are right, Marion, it all goes to the same side of the city.”
You also could add that the big Laney-Walker project is made possible in large part by the new convention center that was so difficult to swallow, as well as a tax on hotel guests.
The disposition could be better. But so could the attitude. When the attitude is one of cooperation, big-picture thinking and of a rising tide that lifts all boats, then Augusta might come closer to reaching its potential.
All the smiles in the world won’t get us there. We’ve got to change the thinking.