Are Salisbury residents being "Delphied" by city leaders?

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Are Salisbury residents being "Delphied" by city leaders? Empty Are Salisbury residents being "Delphied" by city leaders?

Post  Pants On Fire!! on Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:28 pm

It's enough to gag a maggot off a meat wagon . . .

It seems that every time Salisbury's leadership wants to "sell" a new government expenditure, they either go behind closed doors and decide to snake out an end-run around the voters (like Fibrant), or the hold community visioning workshops and push the agenda to those in attendance. Last week, a community workshop was held, in order to get feedback from the community in regards to the Statesville Boulevard "road diet" idea, in which the major 4-lane traffic artery would be choked down to two lanes plus a turning lane, plus a bike lane. Brilliant idea or not, the State DOT wanted to hear from citizens affected by the proposal---which was unanimously adopted by Salisbury City Council on August 16, 2011.

But after neighbors arrived at the workshop, they were separated from those with whom they had come. City planners divided them into a half dozen groups, with at least one bureaucrat and one bike lane advocate in each group. As the discussion began, the 70+ folks opposed to the road diet proposal, now dispersed into groups of around a dozen or so each. When they expressed their discontent with the plan, they were
belittled with comments from staff, like "Why did you not come to the visioning sessions at the Library last year when the concept was reviewed and discussed in-depth?" (Well, for starters, those sessions were held in mid-day, when respectable workers are on the job!) Other comments were, "If we don't reduce our dependency on internal combustion engines, what kind of overheated planet will we leave our children?" There were even some snide remarks, such as, "Are you just ALWAYS opposed to change and progress?"

Naturally, the opponents became angered at being belittled, and they reacted---some even by raising their voices. It then gave the city staffers and their shills an opportunity to play the dysfunctional little "victim" role, to try to further manipulate the discussion by portraying the opponents as loud-mouths, troublemakers, or traitors.

The opponents later learned that what had happened to them Thursday night was a type of manipulation known as the "Delphi" technique. This type of manipulation has been analyzed by author Lynn M. Stuter, who has written an excellent article on the Delphi Technique, which you can find at

Originally designed to gather opinions and move towards consensus, the "Delphi" technique is most often used by government officials to simply gain "buy-in" for their own ideas. Opponents come to share their concerns. They get belittled, sniped, and berated for being against "progress," and most of them retreat into a more comfortable silent position. Then the "change agents" planted into each breakout group pushes onward, intimidating or shaming the rest of the group to fall into line with the outcome that the facilitator wants. Those who persist in opposing are marginalized, and passed over after a couple of outbursts, brushed off with insults like, "We already know that you oppose any progress, John, so you need not ask me to write your rants on the whiteboard." Participants leave these visioning sessions feeling either mad, or frustrated that their input was not really very valuable at all.

The "Delphi" technique is used commonly by public educators who want to launch some new, "innovative" program, and need buy-in by parents of the students who will be guinea pigs for their new-fangled education experiments. It's used by environmentalists and municipal planners as they seek to arrived at "sustainability" for their community, particularly to promote "Smart Growth," because anyone who opposes their draconian plans in favor of less restrictions on land development must inevitably be in favor of "dumb" growth. Delphiers will praise their proposed ideas for how they work to improve "the common good" and promise that they'll augment the city's "quality of life". Thusly, with their smug sense of self-importance by the very words and phrases they use, the Delphiers hope that no one would dare want any other ideas than those promoted by the Delphiers.

The members of the public who oppose the ideas promoted by Delphiers must realize and understand the manipulation to which they are being exposed. Questions should be asked of the Delphiers, in the case of the road diet, perhaps "Why should a major artery be choked down to two lanes, when at least 85% of us are obviously OPPOSED to it?" If the Delphier attempts to change the subject by shifting to personal insults, the questioner should remain calm, and deprive the Delphier of the opportunity to claim he or she was the victim of a loud-mouthed troublemaker in the audience. When he or she is finished with the off-subject response, the questioner should repeat, over and over, until the question is answered, "Why should a major artery be choked down to two lanes, when at least 85% of us are obviously OPPOSED to it?"

Other members of the group should persist in demanding an answer that is on the subject, rather than a manipulative insult against the questioner. When the going gets tough for a Delphier, he or she will call for a recess, so that he or she can re-group using the assistance of another cohort in the crowd, sort of like a tag-team. After recess period, the more fresh Delphier will pick up where the first one left off, but will have fresh, new insults and manipulations to try out. Again, the second Delphier should be forced to answer the questions, without deviating. The opponents can make it known, politely, that they will not cede the group process over to a manipulative shill, and when all else fails, they can announce their withdrawal from the Delphier's group and form their own, leaving the two or three Delphiers to their own devices.

At the conclusion of the breakout groups, there is usually a larger group meeting where the breakout discussions are highlighted. Opponents should make sure that they call the "Delphi" manipulation for what it was, and express their disdain at the manipulation attempts, refusing to accept the process as legitimate. Opponents would benefit from writing letters to the Post, logging into the Rowan Free Press and posting their ideas, and networking with one another in a group setting, where they could plan an "en masse" public comment session at the City Council meetings (or since those are inaccessible to most working class persons other than city employees, to the County Commissioners at their 7 o'clock meetings), so that elected officials know that they will pay the price for their failed attempts at manipulation.

The local "Tea Party Patriots" group has raised awareness of the difference a few disenfranchised residents can bring to a community. There are three Tea-Party candidates running for all three State delegation seats from Rowan County, three such candidates running for school board, and two candidates who upset the country-club-Republican establishment and won their party's nomination for County Commission back in July. City leaders should realize that it is just barely a year from now when their own elected positions will be contested. And if they do not change their ways, the Tea Party frustrations may grow to the point where that board, too, will face some real shake-ups to the status quo.

And some would say that it couldn't happen to a more deserving group of elected officials.


Last edited by Pants On Fire!! on Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:33 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : attribution to author Lynn M. Stuter)
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Are Salisbury residents being "Delphied" by city leaders? Empty Who's the Oracle at "Delphi"?

Post  Wow! Just Wow! on Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:02 pm

You can bet on it, Pants! Now that the dude with all the religiosity has retired from the City, perhaps he could consider a contract job, working as the "Oracle" in this Delphi project. Then as people expressed their disagreement with city programs, he could lay hands on them and cry and pray really hard. Maybe even work up a fairly credible exorcism, to force the nonprogressive demons in them to flee.

He could turn them all into Stepford Wives and Husbands, like he did to the City Council members. All the while, he'd be pounding his chest, and invoking the name of Christ.

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