Reading Bob “Again” Carney’s Jan. 31 article, “Dayton goes all Chris Christie,” brought to mind a radio interview with Gov. Mark Dayton, in which he stated that politics was like paddling a canoe — you paddle a little on one side, then you paddle a little on the other.

That interview reminded me of a dating disaster I had years ago. I was on a first date canoeing near the channel between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles when, due to a breakdown in communication, we ended up with our paddles on the same side, tipping the canoe and sending us both into the water. We managed to make it to shore and salvage our valuables, with the possible exception of our dignity.

I learned from that experience the value of clear communication and the effect my actions may have on others.

By withholding $3.5 million from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board budget, Dayton has sent a clear, unequivocal message that he will not tolerate further delays to the Southwest light-rail project. What he probably has not considered is the effect his action will have on his ship of state.

The people who did the tunnel study under the Chain of Lakes are not hurt by his actions, since they were already paid. Members of the Park Board are not hurt, since they will continue drawing a paycheck no matter how much their budget is cut.

The people who are hurt by Dayton’s actions are those who will not be hired to maintain the parks (because of the budget cut) and the people who come to parks to enjoy their pristine beauty.

Dayton’s strong-arm tactic sends a clear message to those who have reservations about the Metropolitan Council’s decisionmaking process. This is not a great way to win friends or influence people. The Park Board can claim that it is simply practicing due diligence as required under its charter. Personally, I think the Met Council probably made the right call — building a tunnel under a historic watershed in a bog area is a lousy idea.

Gov. Dayton, if you want people to “play nice,” it helps to take time to get to know who your actions are affecting; to engage in a little face time instead of Facebook, and to keep both paddles in the water — but not on the same side!

 

Benjamin Cherryhomes lives in Hastings.