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Trust is a Precious Thing – Hot Springs Village

By Dr. Glen A. Gaboury, October 18, 2021

One phrase that I hear oft-repeated by those who are voting Yes for the “Carte Blanche” assessment increase is that we need to forgive the transgressions of previous boards and administrations, let go of the past, and move forward to giving this new board full backing by allowing them to raise our assessments with little or no accountability.  After all, we must “forgive and forget” for the good of the Village.  What’s wrong with these statements is that they conflate forgiveness which is free with trust that must be earned (or in this case rebuilt).  A person may forgive, but to forget they would need a full frontal lobotomy!   Restoration takes time.  Trust is broken quickly but takes time to restore.  To restore trust, one must go back with a repentant heart and a plan of action as to how one is going to change the untrustworthy behavior. 

Let’s take a look at that last statement for a moment. The keyword is “repentance” which has fallen out of vogue in some Christian circles and is even less popular with the general public, but it is still paramount.   For example, when John the Baptist addressed the Pharisees (religious leaders of the day) coming to be baptized presumably because it was the “thing to do” he said to them, “You brood of vipers!…..Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 ESV).  In other words, repentance is more than just “I’m sorry”.  It is a genuine change of heart and mind which leads to a genuine change of behavior.  Without that change, trust cannot be rebuilt because the person(s) feel that they were justified in their past behavior and they have no real intention of changing it.

Trust can never be restored by slick propaganda campaigns, or by threats (as was the case with one BOD member).  It cannot be coerced by promises to “do better” while ignoring the root cause of the problems.  Trust can only be restored over time when there is genuine and heartfelt change.  Propaganda, coercion, and threats only cause more distrust and division as all of us have seen.  And it further shows that there is no intention of changing the behavior that causes the lack of trust in the first place! 

The POA/BOD had a real choice to humble themselves and show they were willing to rebuild the trust of their constituency by choosing an option presented to them (such as the Special Assessment option) which would provide needed accountability while addressing current infrastructure needs.  To do so would have shown that they really value the trust of the people in HSV and want to gain it back.  But instead, they chose an option that provides little accountability. Then, they decided to coerce voters with a publicity campaign paid for by everyone including those who are against it.  The sad fact is they are not repentant. In fact, some look at the less wealthy and less influential people in the Village as disposable people who should “move out” if they can’t afford ever-increasing assessments.   I have seen the comments myself! 

To conclude, this has absolutely nothing to do with forgiveness.   It is the same as the wife who cheats on her husband, and expects him to trust her immediately so she can go back out to the same bar where she met her lover, promising “it won’t happen again”.   Or the husband who gambles away his family’s entire savings account expecting that he should be trusted to go back to the Casino where he gambled away the money.  Trust is a precious thing.  The POA/BOD should remember that the actions they are involved with today may erode trust in their leadership for years and years to come.  In my opinion, a “Yes” vote will only allow the POA/BOD to believe that they can buy trust with fear-mongering, threats, and guilt manipulation.  Unfortunately, we cannot make them repentant.  That is a heart change that is out of our control.  But, we must hold our leaders accountable especially when they are unwilling to hold themselves accountable!   Vote “No” for the Carte Blanche assessment increase!  There are other and better options!

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