Keeping peace and civility in mind as we publicly debate

This past week the national stage was filled with debate over whether or not to confirm a new Supreme Court justice. Here in Ely folks are talking about the future of the Community Center building.
Having civil discussion on the issues of the day is a right guaranteed by our Constitution. And while we respect each person’s opinion, it is a civil discussion that can be lacking at times.
In Washington where politicians will say nearly anything to stay in office, we’ve come to expect a level of party loyalty that leaves common courtesy and common sense back in the cloakroom. Is it surprising? No. Both sides have dug in so deeply they can no longer see the sky. They just see more dirt they can throw.
We’d like to see Ely stay away from the rhetoric going on in DC. But last week there were comments made in a public meeting that didn’t make us proud. What needs to happen is to focus on the “what” instead of the “who.”
What is at stake here is the city trying to find a way to rid itself of ownership of the Community Center building. The large for sale sign has been on the outside wall for months now. And there were no offers until now.
This $30,000 offer seeks a significant discount from the city’s $85,000 asking price, which is already going to be reduced by $15,000 due to the commission paid to the realtor. So, the city required a plan on what the building would be used for.
Let’s be clear. The city wants to sell the building. Had someone came in with an offer of $85,000 it is very likely the check would have been cashed and the building sold. Then the owner could have used it for whatever purpose fit within the rules.
There are good reasons to question what the building will be used for and if those uses are appropriate. What shouldn’t be questioned is the ethnicity of the buyer.
Ely was built by immigrants who came here in the 1880s to forge a living in the underground mines. There were divisions, both underground and above ground based on ethnicity. Certainly we’ve evolved from making decisions based on what side of the tracks a family lived on.
Let’s have public debate. Let’s discuss the facts and keep the emotions in check. That applies whether you’re in Ely, MN or Washington, D.C.