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Too Many Top Priorities Can Lead to Bad Decisions, Specifically on Mental Health

It almost happened today. I nearly forgot that Sunday was already here and a column was due to be published. You might be thinking that it can’t be that big of a deal, but it would have ended a streak of 171 consecutive Thursday and Sundays putting up a piece by 8:00 in the morning.

The reason for almost missing today after over a year and a half of perfect consistency isn’t a secret, but it does provide a lesson that our local government could learn from as well.

It’s not that I was too busy to write, although I was occupied for most of the time. Much like the commission’s agenda, everyone is almost always busy. It’s that for the first time since February of last year, I prioritized more things ahead of the time that I took for my writing.

We will be welcoming Baby Girl Winsler into the world two weeks from today. My wife and I on Tuesday also received the keys to a house we had purchased a while back but is now finally ready for us to move into. Usually these writings take a prime priority spot in my personal time as a form of thought reflection, but now my personal time isn’t about me; it’s about getting ready for the next generation.

The same happened Wednesday night for Thursday’s column which made it admittedly one of the weaker pieces. The column did the bare minimum of what I try to accomplish with each, which is to teach about something new and to change your perspective on something.

Usually the teaching portion is about something in academia or history, and in Thursday’s case it was the Treaty of Fifth Avenue and the challenge to the current view on the way things are was to look at political parties for the platforms they develop rather than the individual candidates.

Refining our local Republican Party platform would help ward off nonsense calls for drastic change like this morning’s Chronicle’s Sunday editorial that advocated for an open primary system. We do not need open primaries. Republicans should elect Republican nominees.

The disconnect between what the Chronicle is advocating for and what should actually happen also comes down to priorities. The problem isn’t with the system as the Chronicle claims, although enforcement should be used to prevent people from manipulating the system through the illegal use of transferring unreported funds to get people on the ballot, but rather with that the priorities of the more moderate Republicans that read (and write) the Chronicle aren’t in-line with the priorities of the Republicans who selected their nominee.

I don’t see this as a Republican problem either even though I too came out on the losing end of it. I simply see it as a reality of where the Party currently stands locally, and nothing about that requires sweeping change to a system, but rather we must preserve that primary picks are a true reflection of our Party’s wishes, even if they aren’t aligned with my own. That’s how the system is supposed to work.

The commission’s priorities going into Tuesday’s meeting are cluttered as well. Right now, it feels like the board has at least two number one priorities: to get the budget passed and to hire a new administrator.

Mental health will also be in the spotlight with extending a substance abuse and mental health service contract with LifeStream, our current provider, but also voting on directing the staff how to negotiate a Baker Act facility with the organization, which must remain in taxpayer control despite LifeStream wanting to claim ownership.

The commission will also discuss the use of the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds and approve new by-laws for the Charitable Foundation along with appointing a director of at least one new organization.

I’m not saying the commission can’t act concurrently on several issues, but too many and things might start to slip. With the critical direction of the Baker Act facility tacked onto an otherwise packed meeting already, the commission will have to hold strong to protect the taxpayer interest.

To Commissioner Holly Davis’ credit, she will be discussing the implementation of a strategic plan survey which should help to get the board back on track.

My fear from my personal experience is that when you try to do too much, you end up missing important parts. With so many critical decisions on the agenda Tuesday, I hope the commission can stay more focused than I can personally.


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