11/09/10 — Uh oh, not again: Commissioner's focus on transportation and U.S. 70 uncomfortably familiar

View Archive

Uh oh, not again: Commissioner's focus on transportation and U.S. 70 uncomfortably familiar

The smell of self-interest is beginning to waft across Wayne County again as Commissioner Steve Keen leads yet another discussion about the future of the U.S. 70 Bypass and highway improvements.

So far, no overt evidence that Keen's continued laser-like focus on transportation and property issues in this county -- and his continued presence on boards that deal with those issues -- is in any way connected to deals he is making or planning to make.

But it might be time to take a closer look -- just in case.

Not every public official who serves always understands the critical concern that they divest themselves of any appearance of bias or self-interest when they decide to champion causes as an elected representative of county residents.

Sometimes their own interests are so tied to the committees or organizations on which they serve that they do not see how easily they can slip from unbiased representative of the people to personal advocate.

Now, perhaps Commissioner Keen is just really, really interested in transportation issues and the plight of property owners along U.S. 70. Perhaps this is his mission as a county commissioner -- to make sure those concerns are addressed.

And perhaps he just really likes to be on the County Planning Board -- and wants to stay on because he enjoys the perspective that membership provides.

And then again, perhaps the commissioner ought to realize that his comments, his actions and his interests all seem to be too uncomfortably focused on an issue that he has too much of a personal interest in as a property owner.

It is getting very close to the time when Commissioner Keen ought to be asked to choose between his role as a member of the Planning Board and his job as a county commissioner for Wayne County.

It would give him a perspective and an appearance of objectivity that seems to be sorely needed right now.

It would also allow him to focus on some other concerns that are facing this county right now -- education, infrastructure in places other than along U.S. 70 and attracting more jobs and business here.

No harm, no foul so far, but there is an unease in the air -- the kind that needs to be addressed before it blossoms into a full-fledged problem.

Published in Editorials on November 9, 2010 10:27 AM