Politics is politics and policy is policy. There were plenty of both displayed Wednesday at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston, where a meeting of "concerned citizens" about the city's governance made their discontent — and their choice of future City Council candidates — public.
Let's focus on the policy discussion, since this is a more pressing issue.
There's a petition circulating the city, requesting the current council refrain from hiring a new administrator until the next council is seated. There will be, at least, two new council faces next year, as the Peters brothers have said they will not seek re-election.
There are good arguments for hiring a new administrator immediately, and for waiting. On the pro-immediacy side, there is the renewal of leadership. A city the size of Lewiston needs someone to manage it, without the weakening word of "acting" or "interim" before the title.
This is no slight against the acting administrator, Phil Nadeau, but rather an assessment of the situation. With the title "acting," Nadeau is empowered to steer the ship, but not set its course. A permanent manager is needed for the latter, secure in the position of captain on deck.
The longer the city is managed in limbo, opportunities will be missed or lost because the possibility exists that indecision — given the uncertainty of leadership — will trump decisiveness. Simply put, an interim administration may find it easier to do nothing rather than make the best decisions for the city. Lewiston deserves more than that.
Waiting is a wise option, too. If there's one thing this upheaval has shown, it is that cordial, respectable and trusting relations are essential between the council and the administrator. Divisiveness impedes progress, as political and power battles become more important than the work of the public.
If this current council seats any administrator this close to the election, there is no guarantee they will be around long to oversee the new manager. Anger about the dismissal of the previous administrator, Jim Bennett, only fuels speculation about the political battles to come.
There have also been public statements by current councilors that criticize the previous council for extending Bennett's contract, thereby handcuffing their successors. But if this sitting council hires an administrator in the short term, this same criticism could be lobbed back at them.
It doesn't make sense to criticize someone, then turn around and do the same thing yourself.
So what to do? Wait. Let this council imbroglio settle itself in November. Then, the new panel should hire the best administrator for the city possible, to allow the next two years of Lewiston to be governed and managed by a group of people starting out on the same page.