In 1994 I was part of an official 10 member U.S. delegation to a Warsaw Conference on local government management. This was sponsored by the International City Management Association. Our task was to meet with individual country delegations and to discuss American approaches.
My job was to discuss budgeting and financial management.
I asked for the Romanian delegation assignment because: 1. I had been a Latin scholar in high school; 2. My wife is Hispanic, and I gravitate to those of the Latin persuasion. 3. I thought they would be more fun than the Bulgarian delegation.
What a wonderful group of people! I was all set to deliver the latest techniques in American budgeting and financial management. They didn’t want to talk about that. The wanted to discuss the relationship between local government and the central government.
I listened and became a facilitator for their “Warsaw Manifesto” which stole the entire show at the conferenece. It sounded like a declaration of independence. They called for a complete redefinition of the role and relationship between the central (previously communist) government and local government.
I was nervous for them and told them so. (After all, we had a bomb scare the first day of the conference in the Warsaw city hall. The rumor was the old communists had set it up.)
“My” Romanian delegation was only several years away from the previous fall of the murderous communist regime. Would they suffer consequences back home — loss of job or jail? (See the picture of me below facing E. German border guards in 1984, before The Wall came down.)
They laughed and said everything had changed in Romania. I prayed they were right.
God bless you all!