In landfill issue, public deserves to hear real numbers

From a handful of years to a handful of decades. From unpleasantly expensive to prohibitively expensive. From a difficult process to an impossible choice. From slight impact on neighbors to reviled, even dangerous impact.

Discussion about a planned landfill expansion/new landfill has included all of these things. It hasn’t just been disparate theories; it has included shifting, disparate numbers in terms of both potential longevity and also potential cost. Location/impact, longevity and cost are all important to stakeholders.

Now, as the city prepares for another public meeting on the issue, it is most important to come forward with as many – and as accurate – numbers that it can, complete with options to increase or decrease those numbers. Those numbers also need not be massaged – they must present the whole picture of all options.

Yes, most recognize that comprehensive numbers are a challenge. But how else could the public get a panoramic look at the actual situation? Yes, there are some who have their own principles and won’t be swayed by any numbers. Yes, there are some who have their own “alternative facts” from which they will not be swayed.

Most people, though? Most people are influenced by facts, particularly when they are comprehensive and formatted for comparison. One of the errors in Minot’s past is presenting facts to the public as absolutes, leaving many to feel railroaded.

This issue is one of the first that will define the new city council to local voters. This council is going to need ample public support to get done those things that need to be done; and this council will need considerable good will to move ahead on some of its more innovative and potentially exciting plans. It would be a shame for the council to lose the chance for that support because of its handling of the landfill question.

Show the public some real numbers and context and at least only the unfairly biased will be able to form a reasonable opinion.