Like many cities, Auburn is in the midst of a fiscal crisis.
But here's the bad news: Almost half its elected leaders are temperamentally unsuited for public office and have no patience for finding constructive solutions.
Any doubt about that was dispelled Monday when three councilors walked out of a presentation being made by the city's School Committee.
Why? They apparently were not hearing what they wanted to hear.
Auburn school officials are following a national trend toward tailoring educational curriculum to individual students.
After forgoing tax increases for two years, the district is seeking a $1.9 million increase to make those changes.
Meanwhile, because of cuts in state revenue sharing, city government could be facing a $1.5 million increase to maintain municipal services. We have our Legislature and governor to thank for that.
If approved as presented, the combined property tax increase could cost the owner of a $145,000 home $258 more per year.
That's a lot of money, and times are certainly tough. This newspaper may even eventually oppose such a large increase at this time.
The city's dire financial situation may well frustrate city councilors, who probably wish their jobs were easier.
But that does not justify standing up and walking out. Over a period of minutes, Councilors Mike Farrell, Dan Herrick and Ray Berube got up and left.
It was Farrell's second walkout. In October, he got fed up during a discussion of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council and left a meeting.
He went home and watched the remainder of the session on TV.
On Monday, he was the first to leave. The others quickly followed.
The three then apparently palled around in a back room watching the presentation on closed-circuit TV.
"We didn't miss a thing," Berube later said.
We have seen a lot of dumb things happen at municipal meetings over the years, but this was one of the dumbest ever.
There are polite and respectful ways the councilors could have said they disagreed with the tax increase.
Councilor Belinda Gerry demonstrated one: "I wish you had come to us with a lower budget that made changes gradually, in stages, because we cannot give you what you request."
In an adult world, you hear people out. You express your own thoughts. You work with them to come up with compromises or other ideas.
Effective government requires respect and negotiation.
Instead, Farrell, Herrick and Berube intentionally chose to show their disrespect for a sincere group of people who are trying to do their level best for Auburn's children.
Every School Committee member is elected in his or her own right. Just like city councilors, they are the chosen representatives of Auburn voters.
As such, they deserve equal respect.
Over the past few months, Herrick and Farrell, in particular, have shown they are easily frustrated and find the council's workload tedious.
We are sorry this is apparently not what they thought they were signing up for.
We have advice for them: Lead, follow or get out of the way. Right now, the third option may be the best.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.