Free and Frank Exchange of Ideas

Bob Hughes

Former CRS Mediator, Atlanta and Seattle Offices

[Full Interview]

One, the main thing we need to get is a free and frank exchange of ideas. This can be brutal at times. I've had a mayor walk out of a meeting and I had to chase him and say, "This is what we've got to have, get all the problems out here on the table now. Whatever way it takes. We should be understanding, and it may hurt, but it's much more important that we be frank and talk about it, rather than lay only part of the issues out and still have other issues, concerns, or problems. This is our chance to deal with them." There would be some opportunity for going into the background of these issues, too. For example, the disenfranchisement of Indians and violation of treaties, there was at least some allusion to that. It's important to Native Americans that this be in the background of the record, even though it may not be dealt with in detail. In any case, if there's time that day for the other side to give it's listing of issues and concerns, and what and why, then we would go into that. If at the first session problem identification was not completed by one of the parties, then we would pick it up at the next session. All of one side identified it's problems in their entirety, and then the other one would have it's opportunity to give it's side. And to a certain extent, of course, answers to questions or perceptions would be given.