A sad commentary

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To the Editor:

I was surprised by my friend Warren Watsons recent attack on the Democratic Party and our political system in general. I knew our relationship had grown more distanced and I suspected it was a result of new relationships he had formed through his position on the board.

My wife and I had asked Warren to get involved in the Democratic Party and later encouraged him to run for commissioner.

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I now ask myself, what went wrong? It reminds me of when I was in high school and took my first job at our county golf course. A friends father was the course superintendent and told me a position was going to be open.

I applied for the job and showed up for work ready to do my best. It was a public course and had long wait times with no tee times in advance. It was first to arrive, first to play. My job as one of four starters was to keep the order on the first and tenth tees.

On my first morning I was instructed by the more senior starters how things were done. It wasnt how I thought it would be but was a system of tips (pay offs) by groups who basically got reserved tee times. The golfers who were unaware of the system had to wait while the insiders got preferred treatment.

Im afraid that when Warren started on the board in 2006 he was instructed by the seasoned group of commissioners he was to work with on how things were done. Im not implying that there were cash payoffs but I think they operated more on what was best for the commissioners and less on what was best for Polk County.

If you attended a meeting at this time it was almost comical as the commissioners jockeyed for who could look the best and be the one to make the motion that helped the well-connected.

In 2008 we elected three new commissioners and I hoped that the earlier system would be left behind. Unfortunately the board split into the new commissioners working independently while Warren and Tommy became a twosome. I think Cindy, Renee and Ray have brought in a higher ethical and professional standard and are truly operating based on what is best for the county. None of them have a personal agenda to pursue.

We have a chance in 2010 to elect two new commissioners, re-elect Ray Gasperson and put an end to political favors in Polk County. I can tell you as someone involved in the Polk County Democratic Party that the party does not attempt to sway or control any elected official.

Last year the party created a disclosure statement and ethics pledge that is designed to insure that our candidates are in politics for the right reasons and will always act in an ethical manner. You can rest assured that there is no corruption in the Polk County Democratic Party today.

Jerry Hardvall