Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, June 08, 2009

Some thoughts on land access issues


Land access issues have come up in a couple of recent Attackpoint discussions. A park in Kentucky and state parks in California have been considered for closure to close budget gaps. I thought I'd write a few "tips" for dealing with governments in this sort of issue.

My suggestion would be to start with a mid-level management person. They probably won't have the authority to, for example, open a park that would otherwise be closed. But, they are a good starting point. They can help you understand the situation and deal with other involved parties.

1. Ask questions to understand the situation. You probably learn about a potential land access issue through a news story or a comment from someone who works in the park. You're not getting the whole picture. That's just the nature of communication. Start by learning more about the situation. Get a meeting with someone in the government, tell them what you read in the paper (or heard), tell them you like the park, ask them to help you understand the situation. The idea is to learn what is going on and start building a relationship.

2. Try to speak with a person, ideally in person, but over the phone is ok. Sending email and letters is easy. But, it isn't going to be as effective.

3. Recognize the difficulty in making budget decisions. Governments aren't looking to close parks because they don't like you. They are faced with difficult trade offs. Money that goes to parks might be competing with child care, police and fire, replacing decaying bridges, etc. These are really difficult decisions. Recognize that the decisions are complex. It is tempting to come up with an alternative to close a budget gap, but it is really difficult because government budgets can be complicated.

4. Don't assume ulterior motives. Assuming motives, especially if you go on the record about those motives, isn't usually productive.

5. Communicate concisely, especially with elected officials and top management. Whoever you are dealing with probably has a lot to get done. Keep that in mind. Once you've built up a relationship, you can expect a bit more of their time. Imagine how much email and other correspondence an elected official must get. Now double it. Now double it again. Now you've probably got a reasonable idea of how much elected officials are expected to read and digest.

6. Build relationships - good relationships - in advance. When you use a park, take the time to thank the people who work there. Thank everyone you can. Thank the maintenance crews. Thank their supervisors. Thank the park director. Thank the park director's boss.

7. Don't threaten legal action unless you intend to pursue it.

I could go on...but I think it is time to make dinner.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:13 PM


Comments: Post a Comment
March 2002April 2002May 2002June 2002July 2002August 2002September 2002October 2002November 2002December 2002January 2003February 2003March 2003April 2003May 2003June 2003July 2003August 2003September 2003October 2003November 2003December 2003January 2004February 2004March 2004April 2004May 2004June 2004July 2004August 2004September 2004October 2004November 2004December 2004January 2005February 2005March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005July 2005August 2005September 2005October 2005November 2005December 2005January 2006February 2006March 2006April 2006May 2006June 2006July 2006August 2006September 2006October 2006November 2006December 2006January 2007February 2007March 2007April 2007May 2007June 2007July 2007August 2007September 2007October 2007November 2007December 2007January 2008February 2008March 2008April 2008May 2008June 2008July 2008August 2008September 2008October 2008November 2008December 2008January 2009February 2009March 2009April 2009May 2009June 2009July 2009August 2009September 2009October 2009November 2009December 2009January 2010February 2010March 2010April 2010May 2010June 2010July 2010August 2010September 2010October 2010November 2010December 2010January 2011February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013July 2013September 2013