06/15/13 — Fire on board: Commissioners' heavy-handed approach has spread too far

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Fire on board: Commissioners' heavy-handed approach has spread too far

Sometimes politicians are just scary.

And if the alarm has not already gone off for you when it comes to the new board of the Wayne County Commission, get ready.

Sirens are starting to sound everywhere.

It is not just that they -- well, two in particular -- seem to have adopted a show pony slash and burn approach to budgeting -- and that the rest of the Republican contingent seems to be somewhere else entirely, or asleep.

It is not just that the idea of being able to put up ANY tax decrease is so intoxicating that it releases some members of the board from logic and common sense -- or, sometimes, reality.

It is not even about the fact that a short-sighted idea is not a bold new initiative -- and that the leadership of this board seems to have plenty of the former and none of the latter.

It is really about the attitude.

One member of the commission -- bet you can guess who that was -- has declared to some people in the community that he considers himself the chief executive officer of Wayne County.

Oh boy.

The evidence was clear from the beginning that this was the goal as the commission set out to "study" every department budget, every agency and to question even the conduct of business in areas they clearly had no training or expertise.

That is why many people are wondering just exactly what they think they were elected to do.

And so we come to the truth about budgets, commissions and those elected to serve at the will of the people.

When you take yourself too seriously, think you have a mandate when you don't, think you are smarter than anyone else in the room, and when you think you do not have the responsibility to the people you serve to answer real questions rather than simply rigging an interview with your paid spokespeople, you have forgotten your position and overestimated your reach and importance.

And then, when you have lieutenants who bluster about "sacred cows" and infer that groups of volunteers should have their budgets looked over to see if they are using their money efficiently, you cement what many people already think.

You have appropriated powers you have no right to claim -- or you are "too big for your britches."

Here is the bottom line: The Wayne County Board of Commissioners is a group of elected people who are no better or more qualified than most of the citizenry.

They did not really complete a rigorous vetting of their skills, and they do not have the experience or knowledge base to run a county.

Announcing you have run a business and claiming management experience is one thing. Proving you can direct the day-to-day operations of a county the size of Wayne is another.

It is not the same thing -- any more than running a lemonade stand is the same as running Minute Maid.

They are not the managers of county business. We have chosen to hire a county manager and a county staff for that.

They are the representatives of the people and advisers and are expected to ask questions and to make decisions, but not to put their fingers in every pie -- even if they think they have the skills to do so.

And by the way, good leaders know that. They hire good people and let them do their jobs. They do not micromanage them until they quit. They do not impede progress with useless meetings and interminable discussions.

Cutting taxes just to cut taxes is a side show -- especially when there is so much more that could be done with the $27 the board expects to save the average household a year.

Well thank goodness for that, you might be able to half-fill your gas tank -- once.

How much better would it be if this county were poised for growth, building the base it needs to attract investment, residents and jobs -- not wielding an irrational budget ax that will result in only a minuscule savings.

How about having a county that is so successful that there could be a meaningful cut in taxes -- and a huge boost in property values?

Go figure.

What this county needs is a solid financial plan that provides for responsible and reasonable growth and encourages industrial and residential expansion.

A pro-growth, free enterprise Republican knows that.

Perhaps the governor can tell us where to find one.

Published in Editorials on June 15, 2013 11:27 PM