There appears to be some agreement that Montrose County government is a nexus for fractious relations.
But who’s fighting, exactly? Outgoing County Manager Rick Eckert cited a poisonous political climate — and its debilitating effects on his health — as his reason for quitting the job he held for about 16 months.
Aside from some oblique references to a “systemic” culture of infighting, Eckert’s resignation letter didn’t identify warring factions or single out the public, the press or his bosses — although he seemed to implicate everyone.
In his letter, Eckert cautioned that failure to restore “civility in the public arena” will have ongoing economic repercussions for the Montrose area.
Civility, apparently, precluded him from defining the friction points that contributed to his sense of pessimism. And we can’t fault him for that. Burning bridges is rarely a successful job-hunting strategy.
Two Montrose County commissioners largely agreed with Eckert’s assessment, so his call for greater civility may be justified. If Eckert’s resignation does nothing else, it should serve as a “gut-check” for the community as Commissioner Gary Ellis told the Montrose Daily Press.
Ultimately, it’s not for us to say if Montrose County has a problem. If, or when, citizens have had enough of anything, they’ll demand changes — either through interaction with their elected officials or at the ballot box.
Or to use the old axiom: We get the government we deserve.
If Montrose County thinks it deserves better governance — and its citizens have to resort to ugly confrontations in public meetings with their elected officials to get it — we wouldn’t call that toxic discourse.
Civility is a two-way street, but more often than not, it’s the elected officials who set the tone for how the public’s business is conducted.