Did you ever separate people into small groups and work with them that way?


Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you get the parties to come up with solutions? Did you have them brainstorm ideas?

Answer:
I would arrange the order that we bring things up. What can be done about this issue, and then this one, that sort of thing. We'd go down some of the list. When difficult issues are encountered, there would be an impasse. I had a strong belief in the assignment of joint committees, say there's two people that had strong feelings on an issue. I would go through the Chair, to recommend, "What would you think of appointing two people from your side, and two people from the other side to meet tonight together? Maybe they could come up with a joint approach to this issue for recommendation in the morning?" That would be one way of trying to get into greater depth of some of the issues.

Question:
Would you work with that small group?

Answer:
I might, or I may not. I'd meet with them in the morning before the general session began, I would arrange to meet with them, and see "What did you come up with?" That way I would know what to expect. I'd want to know if any joint proposal had evolved overnight.






Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you have any impasses during this case?

Answer:
I don't recall, we were able to move along down the list of issues pretty well, and the use of the joint committee was really our breakthrough.

Question:
How long and how many people were at these sessions at the same time?

Answer:
I think that first session many have been about a dozen. At subsequent sessions, I'd say we always had eight or ten.

Question:
And each side had one primary spokesperson?

Answer:
Well, a leader, but not necessarily always on the same subject. They might indicate today, "John will explain why boating equipment has to be left on the island, because he is one of the fishermen involved in some particular aspect of it. He's well versed." The spokesperson shifted from issues to issues.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
I was in and out of there for about three years, going back and forth. I began letting each group come up with the primary issues that they wanted to deal with, and identify a three to five person task force that would work with me and the institutional parties. I created that kind of a network where I could work on two or three different things on one trip. That depended on who I could get appointments with. I just managed it as five different cases, or four different cases that happened to be in one community. I didn't know when I went there, that it was going to develop into that. But I think that was one of the things that was exciting about it to me. I was able to let them define what their issues were and what their needs were. Because of our philosophy, I was allowed to then respond to that over time rather then just saying, "We'll deal with this police issue but then I'm going on." The perception that the administration just doesn't want to respond, most of the time wasn't correct. Most of the time they did, they just didn't know how. Given the opportunity and given an environment that expects it of them, in a positive way, they responded. Another good example of that was the difference between what happened in Orange, Texas, when the Federal Government went in there and tried to impose housing integration, and a case I did in Grand Selean, Texas I was in there by myself, and I gave the community and the housing authority the opportunity to do the right thing. The biggest difficulty there was keeping the federal presence out so that they didn't come in and cause them to back into a corner. Because they are just like everybody else, if you back them in a corner, they're going to become defensive. But if you go in and say, "Here's the higher good, and what's it going to look like if your community does this? But what would it look like if you do this and rise to the occasion? There was a public pride in saying, "We're going to do the right thing, and they kept the trouble-makers out. They made sure that the property was safe. There are occasions when that doesn't happen -- when people really are not of good will and that's why we have law enforcement. But, my experience was that most people want to do the right thing if given the opportunity, and it can save a lot of money and a lot of lives.







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