Hines Sight / Lessons from the Wizard of Oz
Published 10:30 am, Friday, June 21, 2013
"The Wizard of Oz," the beloved American classic movie of 1939, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The film will be re-released in theaters in IMAX 3D -- more glitz, glamour and color -- for one week in September and also is being redistributed in BluRay and BluRay 3D.
When I was a child, "The Wizard of Oz" was a special event. I was spellbound by its magical qualities and memorable music. Every year until I was a teenager, I headed to my grandparents' house to watch the spectacle because they were the only ones in the immediate family who had a color television.
There's been lots of hoopla surrounding the anniversary. So much so, that I got to thinking about how the characters and the theme of the movie could be an analogy for life here in Fairfield and our town government. Sometimes, this is how my mind operates. So work with me.
As the story goes, farm girl Dorothy gets left behind after a tornado sweeps through Kansas. She is knocked unconscious by flying debris, and awakens in the serene, colorful world called the Land of Oz, wearing ruby slippers. In her travels, she meets the residents of Munchkinland, a good witch, a bad witch, a scarecrow who has no brain, a tin man with no heart and a lion lacking courage. Oh, and a pack of flying monkeys who do the bad witch's dirty work.
Together, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to meet the great and powerful Oz, who they hope will give Dorothy a home, the scarecrow a brain, the tin man a heart and the lion some courage. They hit several scary bumps in the road along the way. But all of it never seems too bad once they break into song.
So who's who's who in our Fairfield-Land-of-Oz?
Let's start with Dorothy. This is easy. Dorothy is us -- the residents of Fairfield. Think about it. What does Dorothy want other than her home, her family and some security?
We've had good witches over the years. The good witch is the strong, yet calming force who protects the munchkins and shows Dorothy the way.
How about Dorothy's three companions? Who, by the way, cause many mishaps for the innocent girl (or the meek and mild, as Dorothy says).
He has a brain, but he didn't use it well recently when he tried to circumvent public access laws and had an apparent conflict of interest between his civic duty and his private-sector job.
The Tin Man goes to First Selectman Michael Tetreau, who obviously wasn't thinking with his heart when he proposed a more than 6 percent increase in taxes earlier this year. Fortunately, Scarecrows who do have brains used them to reduce the tax increase to a more palatable level.
Cowardly Lion? There are plenty of elected officials who just don't have the guts to make the tough and/or right decisions. Don't you feel that sometimes our town leaders don't have the courage to just say "no"?
The munchkins are all those hard-working town employees who get little respect or notice. The residents of Munchkinland were happy little people who lived in a world surrounded by light and loveliness. But from what I hear, the morale at town hall is not good.
Who's the wicked witch? Well, the wicked witch in our scenario is not a person, but rather an uncontrollable, vicious system that tries to get more and more of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars (or the ruby slippers).
In the movie, the witch is melted when a bucket of water is thrown on her. I don't see our wicked system melting any time soon, do you? And the flying monkeys? Our tax dollars, of course.
This brings us to the wizard. We've had a few first selectmen over the years who have fancied themselves wizards, who were all talk and who provided little, if any, acceptable action. While the wizard may appear as a scary figure surrounded by raging fire, he actually is the voice of reason.
He tells Dorothy and her companions that they aren't lacking for anything; they just need a little direction. The wizard is a wise man, patient and reasonable, who explains life to his visitors and is respected by the people in the Emerald City.
Only one person comes to mind for me --Paul Hiller, our former chief fiscal officer. As the people of the Emerald City would say, "The wizard will know. Let's ask the wizard." And Hiller always had the answer.
Even with all its problems, traffic, wasteful spending and sometimes brainless people, Fairfield is still a good place to live with lots to offer. As Dorothy would say, "There's no place like home."
Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also can be followed @patricia_hines on Twitter.