02/16/13 — Their own press: The criticism still stands. GOP board out of line.

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Their own press: The criticism still stands. GOP board out of line.

It is often amazing how politicians can look in the mirror of public opinion and see what they want to see.

The irony in the Republican commissioners' response to criticism of their first few months in office is that it shows just how insulated they are from the swirl of questions that surround them, and the doubts they have created in many key leaders' minds around this community.

They have had the opportunity to answer those concerns and to outline their mission -- but they choose only to do so in forums that do not allow questions in return. Rather than face questioning by the media -- and, in turn, those who might not have voted for them or who are having doubts about those votes -- they simply choose instead to send out more propaganda and more misrepresentations of the reality of the actions they have already taken.

Let's address a couple:

Sure, the commission has extended the amount of time citizens are allowed to speak and made a push for evening meetings.

But what you might not know is that the county commissioners have been considering doing a little crowd control of their own -- entertaining a measure that would summon local boards and others before the commission without prior knowledge of the questions to be asked, requiring those who are summoned to appear before the board to present written questions in advance and discussing preventing the release of the commission agenda in advance of the meetings or editing it down, thus rendering it useless.

There have also been muzzles put on some county personnel, and even a proposal that the commissioners would speak "as one."

So, under the harsh glare of daylight, the open and people-friendly commission looks like one that seems to have a basic misunderstanding of the public's right to know.

Then there is the decision that there needs to be a wholesale reboot of everything that is being done in the county and that the election results from November 2012 support that supposition.

No sirs. We want you to review what has been done, examine the decision-making and then present evidence that it needs to be changed -- in public, in meetings and not in borderline illegal closed sessions.

You were not elected to take unilateral action.

Also, please note that we said "present evidence."

No one was elected to dump the status quo as a monolithic roundup of everything that has been done by previous Democrat-controlled boards.

That means that if you feel the county is being run irresponsibly and that the finances of this community are being mismanaged -- prove it.

That means showing that this community has a poor credit rating, is plagued by debt and is unable to perform basic functions efficiently and economically -- if that is the case.

And judge all decision-makers -- and the decisions they made -- with the same ruler.

What is particularly amusing about the commission's labeling of a disfunctional county with so much to fix is that it sounds a lot like the same thing that was said when a certain Democrat president came to Washington.

Wholesale change, he said. Mandate from the people, he extolled.

And we see how that turned out.

We are going to try once again to share with the Republican commissioners a little of what we expect from those who serve.

We expect fairness and for you to leave partisanship at the door. That is what you ran on. The opposite is what you criticized. That is what we expect.

We expect openness. We expect you to have the guts to answer criticisms and to defend policies, not to hide behind "statements." We expect you to know what you are talking about before you crusade and to understand that everything that comes out of your mouths is not the one and only answer. We expect you to respect those who have served this county in volunteer positions and paid ones -- even if they are not of your political persuasion.

And by the way, please don't make us remind you again, you do not run the schools. We elected a board of education for that. And if you are going to comment on a facilities plan, Mr. Chairman, please make sure you know what you are talking about and don't ask about making a motion to approve a plan that was approved more than five years ago. That is called doing your homework first.

We expect you to do your job, but to remember that we did not hire you to run this county. And some of us did not elect some of you at all. You are there to represent your district and are but one voice of many.

And speaking of one voice. If the commissioners do not speak individually or address issues and questions individually, we have no choice but to assume that there is only one person whose voice matters.

We offer every member of the commission the same deal we offered Chairman Steve Keen, which he ignored. Come and present your vision, your mission, your concerns and your plans for the future of Wayne County. Record the interview so you can then prove what you said and what was asked.

We can't force you to answer questions. But we can tell the community what questions we would have asked and present the reasons we asked them.

Then, we will let the public decide.

You should also know that there are also laws that prevent skirting the public's right to know, and we are more than ready to take whatever action is necessary to make sure the Wayne County commissioners abide by them.

And a piece of advice. There are no secrets. Word of less than respectful discussions and unfair commentary gets around.

We will be watching and listening.

Published in Editorials on February 16, 2013 10:54 PM