Paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing a situation to the point that a decision or action is never taken, paralyzing the outcome.

Often on the pages of The Sheridan Press, our journalists highlight reports and studies undertaken by local government agencies regarding upcoming decisions or controversial topics. In most cases, the rationale behind outreach for public opinion makes sense. Why not gather input from the community before a decision is made to avoid backlash? The process saves time that would be needed to fix issues the governing powers didn’t foresee or consider.

Lately, though, it seems some entities have become paralyzed by over-thinking. 

Fluoride comes to mind as one such issue. The topic has been discussed to death, prompting numerous letters to the editor and similar emails and phone calls from community members annoyed that the topic hasn’t already been decided. After all, it’s been months since the new elected officials took office and years, really, since the fluoride went into the water. Surveys are out and now we await the verdict from those who filled it out.

Downtown development has also hit roadblocks. Officials sent out studies and surveys, but more than a dozen downtown storefronts sit empty. A downtown development authority formed, but has since sat idle and may become defunct. Without action, we could lose the downtown vibrancy we all so enjoy.

Any formal action on the issue at the forefront — affordable housing — has also stalled, as far as most area residents can tell. Discussions continue and studies have been weighed, but all of those things take time — which is something Sheridan may not have much of if it wants to continue growing its economy and welcoming new businesses. Already a slate of businesses have announced expansions, which is great news, but that momentum could dwindle without available, attainable housing for employees. Decisive action must be taken. While studies benefit those issues that don’t require quick action, they also serve as stalling tactics for leaders who are unsure how to move forward or afraid to take the unpopular steps needed to advance.