County manager deserves better

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To the editor:

Before I begin, I’d like to thank the commissioners for their service to the county and thank them for allowing me to give comment tonight.

To say I feel very strongly about what I’m going to say here tonight would be an understatement.

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FYI for everyone in the room:  This is the nice version.

I’d like to thank Ryan Whitson for his service as county manager, even though he is not present this evening.

As a veteran who served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the 18th Airborne Corp., I’d like to thank Ryan for his military service to our country.  We are so appreciative of what he must sacrifice, and those things he must endure serving as a citizen soldier on our behalf.

Ryan should be in our thoughts and prayers until his return home from his current deployment.

The point I would like to make is that Ryan is not here.  The county manager of Polk County is not present.

Yet, in this building, this evening, on the agenda is discussion of a new position:  assistant county manager.  I find it hard to fathom that some have considered it necessary to schedule this topic tonight without Ryan Whitson here, in person.

March the 10th , when Ryan will be back at work in Polk County, is not that far.  What’s the rush?  Where are patience, common courtesy and respect?

Why not wait for Ryan’s return and let him speak for himself, in this public forum, on what should or should not be done in reference to the new position of assistant county manager.

It would be wise to have Ryan present and being an active, integral part of the decision-making process.

Perhaps Ryan would like to receive applications for this new position. His experience as county manager would be invaluable.

As a veteran, as a citizen of Polk County, I feel that having this discussion without Ryan present is inherently wrong.   We owe Ryan more than this.  He deserves better. The citizens of Polk County deserve better.

We owe our servicemen and women a monumental debt that we can never adequately repay. As a veteran, I know what “coming home” to what we as soldiers commonly refer to as the “real world” means.  That reentry is difficult for us to imagine, hard for us to know all that it entails, unless we’ve walked in those shoes.

So, for a moment, I take pause … and try to place myself in Ryan’s shoes. Does he feel insulted from the possible impact of this meeting tonight?  A slap in the face?  We run that risk by continuing this discussion tonight without him.

We, as citizens, should never shirk our responsibility to have our servicemen’s and women’s backs while they’re gone.  Please, let us never be found lacking in that regard.

They deserve our patience, our common courtesy and respect until their return.  Ryan deserves better; the citizens of Polk County deserve better.

Why not let us exercise sound judgment and make a motion to discontinue this discussion until Ryan’s return?

If not, I feel we owe Ryan an apology for not waiting for him.

For not waiting. For our haste.

– Lee Mink, Mill Spring