03/04/09 — Danger signs: Commissioners, school board need to stay steady, cooperating

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Danger signs: Commissioners, school board need to stay steady, cooperating

American politics -- and municipal government -- is set up to be confrontational.

Candidates run for office by pointing out how they could do it better than the people who are already doing it, and then, once in office, must fight to push their agenda through so they can get elected again.

And sometimes that means telling people what they want to hear rather than the harsh truth they need to face.

And those who are charged with running the day-to-day operations have it tough, too. They not only have to please the boards that employ them, but the community that scrutinizes their every move as well.

So it is not really a surprise that once again the county commissioners might be going off the reservation when it comes to discussing the future of the county's schools.

Both the school board and the commissioners are facing budget uncertainty and a state government that does not seem to know if it is coming or going.

And then there are the economic concerns that are making many people wonder if there will be anyone left to pay the taxes necessary to accomplish any of the agenda items both boards are planning for 2009-10.

So, a little nervousness, concern and even irritability might be understood.

But now that we have seen more of those first rumblings of thunder, it is time to squash them -- immediately.

This is no time for dialogue to be strained or for either the school board or the commissioners to start throwing rocks. It is too counterproductive right now.

When there is a crisis, the groups that survive are those that batten the hatches, put aside their differences and get busy getting the job done. They don't fight, because it wastes time, divides them and distracts them. They talk to each other -- and they don't wait until the other party is out of the room to bring up concerns.

Groups that don't remember to work together are the ones that end up losing time and money as they battle each other rather than attacking the issues on hand. They miss opportunities because they are not primed to accept them.

And that is what is critical for county officials to remember as they try to figure out the future of the schools and facilities projects.

Now is not the time to lose focus or to forget that there are people on both sides of this discussion who truly do care about the future of this county.

Get back to the table and join forces, right now.

That is what your community expects.

Published in Editorials on March 4, 2009 11:00 AM