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What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes. The Trailblazer Transit Joint Powers Board had a graduation of sorts on Thursday morning of last week. First, it finalized a new joint powers agreement after months of negotiating among its member entities. Second, it decided it no longer needs its attorney to attend every meeting.
As you may recall, just over a year ago, Trailblazer Transit was on the verge of losing its newest member, Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT) over controversy regarding several personnel issues, in particular surrounding the executive director. There also were other issues regarding representation on the joint powers board, the sharing of costs and many other items.
Attorney Frank Madden was called upon to help mediate the issues. Thursday’s signing of the new joint powers agreement showed that those mediation sessions were successful — so much so that the board feels that it no longer needs Madden to help navigate the waters at every meeting.
It’s a classic example of compromise and reaching across the aisle in politics, although there were no political parties involved. Kudos to the board; the meetings have been much more genial and much progress has been made.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to politics involving our two major parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.
In Lee H. Hamiliton’s column this week, he predicts that polarization will become more, rather than less, pronounced in 2018.
He is probably — and sadly — correct.
Gone are the days when the two parties came to the table and hammered out agreements that provided some wins for people on both sides of the aisle. Back in the day, that was called statesmanship. That word doesn’t come to mind much these days.
The two parties have become so polarized that the idea of compromise means that one side must totally capitulate to the other. And the political process is marred by finger-pointing, blame and sneering at each other. It’s a shame, and it’s not what our forefathers envisioned when they set up our representative government.
It’s our fervent hope that Hamilton’s prediction of even more political strife is unfounded, or isn’t as dire as his prediction.
But we doubt it.
Strap on your helmets, folks; it’s going to be a rough political ride in 2018.