WHEN MEDIATION SERVES THE PUBLIC INTEREST

There are those who say that conflict sells newspapers.

So it’s good news for mediators when the Fourth Estate promotes more collaborative means of resolving disputes.

An editorial in today’s Asheville Citizen Times put in a plug for mediation when it urged the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to work together to resolve an ongoing battle over water management issues. As the editor explained,

“Going to court would mean tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent to resolve the dispute. It would mean a judge, rather than the elected officials whose job it is, deciding how the water distribution system will work. The matter could take months or years to resolve as appeals wind their way through the courts. In the meantime, a water system desperately in need of repairs would continue to deteriorate…Going to court would also undoubtedly strain amicable feelings among local leaders—further damaging regional cooperation for decades.

In other words, resolving the matter in court is clearly not an acceptable alternative. Mediation, however, is. Time is running out. What’s needed is an impartial, well-trained mediator who can help all sides find common ground and reach an outcome that best serves all constituencies.

Given an effective process, people of goodwill can resolve seemingly irreconcilable differences.”

This is one journalist who understands that while conflict may sell newspapers, it does nothing to solve problems. Mediation, on the other hand, certainly can.

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