Admitting to a blunder takes some courage, and it is to his credit that Botsford Fire & Rescue Chief Wayne Ciaccia owned up to a “bad snap decision” in allowing political signage be posted on Botsford fire trucks taking part in the September 5 Labor Day Parade.
By immediately responding to public outcry and denouncement by the Newtown Board of Fire Commissioners as to the inappropriateness of advocating a political candidate on town-owned trucks (see Botsford Fire Chief Regrets Hasty Decision To Display Trump Placards in Parade), Chief Ciaccia has put out this particular fire handily. How much easier would it have been to let this issue continue to smoke, with the occasional flare up, than to publicly acclaim this mistake?
While everyone makes mistakes — some more egregious than others — Chief Ciaccia’s response is an example of one that others could put into practice.
Calling out alleged illegal Board of Education meetings by releasing those concerns to parties outside of the board created a great deal of grief this past year for former board members Kathy Hamilton and David Freedman. If this matter had been presented publicly to the board, giving all the opportunity to reconsider and vow to discontinue questionable practices, perhaps the complaint to the Newtown Board of Ethics could have been avoided.
The complaint, in turn, has resulted in Board of Ethics actions that have been less than transparent. Not admitting to any mistakes in judgment of Mr Freedman or Ms Hamilton’s case, and unwilling to answer questions regarding votes that may have violated the Freedom of Information Act has created an ongoing situation that undermines the public faith in a town board. There is, in this particular case, no sense of apology for any actions, despite criticism from the Board of Selectmen regarding the Board of Ethic’s process in this incident. Answering questions to which the public deserves answers, and a humble promise to do better going forward would have great impact. Mr Freedman, it should be noted, offered an apology for his actions, following the ethics hearing.
When mistakes happen, rapid acknowledgement that an error has been made, an apology, and a commitment to do better can prevent a mountain erupting from a mole hill. In general, the public has more respect for someone stepping up when an error in judgment occurs than when an issue is shrugged off, covered up, or allowed to grow into something no longer easily addressed.
To err is human. Botsford Fire & Rescue Chief Ciaccia may have erred in his decision, but his contrite and swift response has no doubt extinguished this potential structure fire of a moment.