The Alameda County Board of Supervisors recently doled out $8,720 in an effort to reduce bickering among its members.
County supervisors, their staffs and the county administrator all answered 120 written questions that were intended to shed light on their thinking styles, based on which quadrant of the brain is most dominant.
"This is just a tool used to help with various frictions and help us rethink how we deal with one another," says county supervisor Gail Steele.
After the personality assessment is scored, those with similar profiles are assigned a color category: yellow, red, green or blue. Steele turns out to be a red, which signifies she is right-brained, or more creative. Reds, who primarily utilize the lower part of the right brain, tend to have especially good interpersonal skills. The upper right, or yellow, connotes the imaginative or visionary person.
Supervisor Scott Haggerty is a green. That reflects his penchant for organization and detail. The upper left-brained, or blues, are the logical thinkers.
Haggerty and Steele both consider the exercise valuable. "We can never get together privately without the press to work out our troubles," Steele says. "We live under different rules. If you have a real issue with someone, this may be the only tool to help you work it out."
While the taxpayer-funded survey has drawn some criticism in the press and community, Steele maintains it will benefit citizens in the end.
"It was expensive," Steele says. "Maybe we didn't need it, but we might have learned something about ourselves and each other. Should we have done it? Maybe not. But did it break the county's back? No."