Analysis of Conflict at a City Council Meeting

Analysis of Conflict at a City Council Meeting.

Analysis of Conflict at a City Council Meeting

The city of Paterson in the US has over the past month experiences in a fierce disagreement over the increase of parking charge fines and the extension of a parking meter and parking hours from 6 pm to 7 pm. These issues raised a political temperature with a representative of the residents threatening not to abide by the new regulation given that they were negatively affecting their businesses. Moreover, the decision to introduce new parking meter and extra hour enforcement period met opposition not only among the residents of the city but also within the council members. The paper analyses the undertaking in the council chambers regarding the parking problem.

All the members of the council were seated when the President of the Council entered the chamber accompanied by the Councilman Luiz Velez. As soon as they were in their seat, the President asked Mr. Ambert to open the meeting with a player. After the players had been over, the Councilman Velez read the resolution of the prior meeting and laid out the agenda of the day. He said in a low tone ‘the council is to deliberate on the issue of fines for late payment of parking fee, the debate on the expansion of parking meters to residential and non-covered street and to debate the intention to increase the council enforcement hours from 6 pm to 7 pm.’ At this moment members were composed awaiting the state of the debate.

As soon as Velez was seated, the President called off the debate on the increase of parking fine for late payment. Tony Fitzpatrick members of the council rose to the floor and opposed the motion. He said ‘I am frustrated with the move by the council to propose an increase of parking fine from $10 to $60. This is so punitive to the members of this city.’ He continued by urging the members to be considerate of the reason why residents fail to pay in time for the parking meters. He continued ‘I am perturbed for unfair treatment of the downtrodden in this city.’

Debra Underwood, his colleague in the council, interrupted Fitzpatrick. He argued that Fitzpatrick was suggesting that the council aim to punish the residents, which was further from the truth. He said in a low tone ‘our main objective as a council is to protect the interests of the residents of the city and not to punish them.’ Due to the heated, debate, the Councilman Velez informed members that there was an increased number of late payment where residents took two to three month to submit their payment. He argued that this informed the suggestion to increase the penalties to discourage lateness and improve the council’s revenue collection for efficient service delivery.

The President William McKoy interjected the debate after being frustrated by the direction the debate was taking. He was worried that nothing substantial would come out of the meeting given the different divergent of opinions. As a result, he used his authority to reign the members to vote on the issues where the protagonist carried the day. According to Mayer, institutional structures and authority appended to them can help in resolving conflicts in organizations (2012). In addition, the respect accorded to people in authority or a people of a high class is superlative while dealing with class issues.

Bernard Mayer in her book The Dynamics of Conflict: A Guide to Engagement and Intervention offer guiding principles through which conflicts can be addressed amicably while avoiding fallout and dissatisfaction between parties. She argues that conflict determination requires more than the mechanical presentation of techniques and procedures to the application of intellectual and interpersonal skills. Mayer says that how a person communicates with the other plays a big role in convincing a course of action. She argues that people with intelligent would approach a conflict in a condescending way rather than issue directions. Moreover, he says that conflict has three dimensions, action, feeling, and perception. Thus, to address a conflict, it is important to understand whether you are to address action, feeling, or perceptions.

In the case of Paterson City, council conflict is demonstrated by resenting views of the council’s members. The resident representative in the council believes that the council members want to deny them the value they enjoyed parking free in their neighborhood. Moreover, they perceived the council as extortionist for planning to extend the parking time by an addition one hour. This move angers some members of the council resulting to voting against fine increments. For instance, Debra Underwood says that he does not need a meter in front of his house on Keen Street. Therefore, the Paterson city conflict is characterised by lacks of a proper channel of communication between the council’s members, and the debate sometimes is like a shouting competition.

There exist a conflict between council members as well as between the Council and the resident of Paterson. This is demonstrated by the feeling of the parties in the conflict. For instance when the Councilman Luiz Velez proposes to hike the fine for delayed parking payment the council members disagreed with him. Council members pitied the motorist because they already face a $10 fine and an increase of the same to $67 would be punitive. The council failed to reach a consensus, and a vote called by the McKoy was negative putting aside the proposal.

The action taken by the council in Paterson city regarding the issue of parking meter indicates the existence of a conflict. For example, Ambert and more than three-quarters of the council opposed the council meter expansion. Moreover, the action of members of the Chamber of Commerce in the council functions to address conflict arising from disputes in trade between the City Council and the business community or any other group. The intention of the Paterson Parking Authority to review parking regulation was a move aimed to shock the business as well as the livelihood of the residents.

Conflict resolution is best addressed by addressing it causes. According to Mayer, conflict is naturally caused by several factors that affect the needs of human being (2012). Mayer goes on to that, that conflict arises from the competition of scarce resources, from basic human instincts, and from the organization of societies structures and institutions individuals establishes (2012). In addition, she argues that conflict is also brought about by the class struggle among different classes (Caspersen, 2015).

For Paterson City Council to address the issue of parking it needs to manage how they communicate effectively. The imperfect communication fails the council to find the needs to hike parking fine leading to the abandoning of the proposal (Walters, 2006). Therefore, the warring parties in the Council members needs to only effectively convince each other of the rational of high fine and their effectiveness in addressing the problem of late payments (Ury, 1988). The understanding of how to communicate to different people due to their cultural differences or class, age or gender would yield result as everyone needs would certainly be met and thus end the conflict (Mayer, 2012). This is what is required in the Paterson Council Members.

The emotions among residents of Paterson City aggravate the conflict of expanding parking meters within the residential areas. Thus, to address this problem, the Paterson Parking Authority need to be rational of their decision to increase parking enforcement time and new parking meter to the needs of the residents as well to that of the council. Given that, the council collects other fees from the resident to maintain their neighborhood and land rates they need to be reasonable not to exert economic pressure to the residents. Moreover, the council needs to determine it resolution whether residents can afford to pay for more parking and still sustain their business. Success in addressing the emotion among council members will solve the conflict in Paterson City (Healey, 1995).

Understanding of the values of the people of Paterson and that of the city authority is also important in resolving the emergent conflict (Mayer, 2012). First, it is the custom of the city council to levy parking space within the city to cater for the management of the city. Therefore, the authority to introduce new parking meters lies with the city council. However, the Paterson resident deserves a fair and justifiable taxation system including parking levies and fine for late payment. Thus, a fair determination of the extent where the council can extend its parking meters within the city and a justifiable fine for lateness would address the conflict in Paterson.

The conflict in Paterson council meeting on the issue of parking meters is affected by more or less the competition of council incomes vis a vis residents and businesses incomes. Resolving the competition could adequately minimize the confrontation of council members as well as halt the written petition to the council by residents and community trade organization. Also, the functions of institutions that is established the need to respect the cultures, class, age, as well as gender before issuing policy guidelines (Mayer, 2012).

The problem at Paterson City can be resolved by ensuring that all the needs of the people of Paterson are met. First, before the council can determine to expand the enforcement area within the city, it needs to put in place mechanism that assists the citizens to access the basic needs that they require. Social amenities should be above board. Moreover, communication among council members ought to be effective to avoid disagreement between members of different level of governance. For instance, the President of the Council needs to get substantial briefs before a decision is made. This help in minimizing tension and disagreement before a policy id put in place.


The city of Paterson is embroiled in conflict among Council Members. This is because of different in opinions on how to go about extending parking enforcement hours. The council is also in conflict over the issue of raising the fine for late payment for parking meters. Also, the council is faced with the outrage of Paterson residents who have petitioned the council’s proposal to extend parking meters into their residents. Moreover, the City Chamber of Commerce also has petitioned the council for their motive to stifle businesses by increasing the costs of parking.

The paper offers a various way through which the above conflict can be resolved. First, the understanding of the background of the conflict provides a better position of knowing where to begin the course of action. Therefore, given that Mayer identifies that conflicts are brought about by competition for the limited resources, human instincts, society structures and institutions it is imperative to resolves these issues address the conflict in the city of Paterson.

Therefore, resolving communication problem in the council institutions serves to solve the conflict. In addition, addressing the needs of the council while taking into account the needs of the residents manages the difference between the warring parties.




Caspersen, D. (2015). Changing the conversation: The 17 principles of conflict resolution. New York, Profile Books.

Healey, K. (1995). Conflict resolution. Balmain: Spinney Press.

Mayer, B. (2012). The dynamics of conflict: A guide to engagement and intervention 2nd. California, Jossey Ross. 

Ury, W. (1988). Getting disputes resolved: Designing systems to cut the costs of conflict. Calif: Jossey-Bass.

Walters, R.P. (2006). The conflict management handbook: How to quench the fires that burn relationships. New York, High Ground Press.


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Analysis of Conflict at a City Council Meeting

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