The death of common sense – part 2

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To the Editor:
Doesn’t it feel like we’ve lost our way doing things right; the things that made common sense?  Is the difference between right and wrong no longer clear in today’s world?  Doesn’t it sometimes seem like right is wrong, and wrong is right? It used to be easy to understand the difference; what’s happened?
On a national level we’re reminded of this every night as we watch the evening news.
Closer to home there are similar examples of confusing actions by our Board of Commissioner’s majority which sometimes don’t make sense or feel right either.
Totally competent and good people have been removed or decided to leave their jobs in Polk County. These people have performed their jobs with dedication and excellence.
Why did we lose Mike Egan, County Attorney; Dr. Allison Owens, Medical Director; Lynn Sprague, Ag Economic Development Director, Esther Lail, Finance Department; Patty Aldred and Chris Zellner, Recreation Department; and Ryan Whitson, County Manager? It doesn’t make sense to lose this experience and talent, or spend unbudgeted funds to do so.
Why does the Board of Commissioners appoint volunteer citizens from our community to serve on committees and commissions, asking them to spend time and energy on our behalf, and then totally ignore their recommendations and advisory roles? Worse yet, why have they hired a consultant, again an unbudgeted expense, to develop an economic development strategy without participation by the County Economic and Tourism Development Director or the volunteer commission members? It doesn’t make any sense, either, does it?
What is happening lately with the shenanigans in the Commissioners’ closed sessions? It’s not right to play games with attorney-client privilege to justify certain discussions or create an atmosphere where all commissioners are not made to feel welcome to attend these meetings.
It seems like a lot of what is going on in Polk County is being done behind the curtain. If the Commissioners would explain their thinking on some of these questionable actions, or better yet, give us a roadmap of where they are going, we’d better understand why they’ve made these decisions.
The Commissioners have agreed to adhere to the Polk County Code of Ethics. One of the general principles included in this code states that “the proper operation of democratic representative government depends upon public confidence in the integrity of the government and upon responsible exercise of the trust conferred by the people upon their elected officials.”
Whether we’re Republican, Democrat, or Independent we deserve and should expect openness and ethical behavior from our elected officials. When we encounter behaviors on the part of Commissioners Pack, Owens, Holbert and Gage, majority members,  where their actions don’t make sense and for which there are no explanations provided, erosion of the public trust can occur.
Based on the increasing number of letters to the editor and comments at Commissioner’s Meetings, we have reached this point. It’s time for some frank and open conversation.
Food for thought: Charles de Gaullle said, “ I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”  Someone also said “common sense isn’t common.”
–  John Hill, Columbus

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