Setting aside the outcome, Tacoma City Council discussions about immigration suggest rules of engagement for the future.
• Don’t imply that a local citizen who sits for three hours to talk for three minutes is more influential than some guy in Kansas who sent an e-mail. People in Kansas have feelings, too.
• Avoid saying “children are our future”; it can make people burst into song.
• Don’t sing. Not even a little.
• Try not to tell a room full of activists to do something useful for the community instead of wasting your time. Activists are easily confused, and you can’t predict what they’ll do.
• Use facts, even if you have to make them up.
• Use your facts to create a sense of impending doom. This promotes thoughtful decision-making.
• Always ask your attorney before the meeting, “Is there anything else we should know?” Some attorneys are shy about offering advice.