Today, I had the opportunity to sit in a City Hall meeting. One of the amendments that was proposed seemed, to me, to be a common sense resolution. The proposal was made by Council Member Blackburn. The regulation stated that if two spouses worked for the City of Greenville, that only one could take the 12-week medical leave of absence, but not both. Ms. Blackburn made a motion to change this policy in order to allow both spouses to take a medical leave.
To my shock, opposition was swift and rather vocal. Ms. Lipscomb was quick to point out that a plethora of other North Carolina towns had the same policy as Greenville, citing only one (Winston Salem) that allowed for both spouses.
In my opinion, her statement, which was meant to be an argument, was in fact a fallacy—more specifically, part of the bandwagon fallacy. Because everyone else does it one way, we should too.
Council Member Smiley was also quick to voice his opposition, saying that the policy was “organic” and carefully planned, and that such an amendment was hasty and unwise. He argued that the policy had been made after weighing the numbers and following the example of other cities. His argument was cold, calculated, fueled by statistics and math. There was not a trace of empathy in his voice.
Interestingly enough, it was another female, Council Member Glover, who supported Ms. Blackburn’s amendment. Her sentiments much resembled my own. She felt that it did make sense to change the policy, as it is not unfeasible to assume that both spouses would need to take advantage of medical leave.
Ms. Blackburn made a reasonable, logical plea. In a city full of working citizens, it is not a stretch to assume that both spouses might work for the city. She stated correctly that often the City Council puts families last, and that such an amendment would (rightly) put families first. To quote Council Member Blackburn, “The city is its people.”
The motion came to vote, and it failed. Interestingly enough, it was four men voting against, and two women voting for the amendment.
In the upcoming election year, I encourage everyone to attend these meetings. See how the Council members look at the citizens who speak. Who is smiling? Who looks like they are sucking lemons? Who makes decisions and arguments based in cold abstractions and mathematical equations? Who proposes amendments because they are morally right?
If we are to work for the betterment of Greenville, these things are important, not only to us, but to future generations to come.
*Names may be incorrect, as I have bad eyes and sometimes cannot read name tags. If I made a mistake, please correct me!