06/18/13 — Oh boy: Chalk this one up to an oops; now listen to others.

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Oh boy: Chalk this one up to an oops; now listen to others.

Perhaps we were a little too hasty in criticizing the Wayne County commissioners for hiring a spokesperson.

Witness, for example, Monday's budget meeting and the debate over funding for Literacy Connections.

During the discussion, it was revealed that the program was providing English as a Second Language classes.

"Foul," cried two commissioners. "People should be required to learn English if they are going to stay in this country. English should be their first language."

And, scene.

We won't even tackle the other question raised by one of the two aforementioned commissioners -- why the county should provide funding for seniors "just because they have worked all their lives."

We know. We can't believe he said it either.

These exchanges prove two points.

First, being a county leader is not an assignment handed down on a tablet. It does not imbue anyone with super-duper, all-encompassing knowledge and experience. And it also does not guarantee that you have all the information necessary to make decisions.

It means you have to listen harder and to trust that the people who do the work day in and day out have something to contribute.

You have to base your comments on knowledge and analysis -- not what you think or believe. Call for cuts and responsible management of money, sure, but not just to keep a campaign promise.

And if you are going to question an official or an expenditure, that query should be backed by facts, figures and real-time, practical horse sense.

And second, it suggests that Miss Utah is not the only person who flubbed up a question or statement this week.

English as a Second Language is a program that helps immigrants learn how to speak English, to give them the skills to incorporate English into their daily lives.

It is EXACTLY what we want immigrants to strive for -- and it is a program we should encourage.

And, amusingly enough, its purpose is to accomplish exactly what the commissioners called for -- more immigrants who can speak, write and understand English.

But the larger point is simple -- a reiteration of what we have already said.

Please, gentlemen, slow down. You do not have the breadth of knowledge that you think you do. You were not hired to micromanage every department in the county -- and it is obvious, once again, that despite weeks of meetings, that there is still much for you to learn.

Shooting from the hip will not help this county -- and it is not doing much for the public's ability to understand and to get behind a conservative agenda.

Stop, listen, think and then speak.

And we challenge you again -- let the county manager do his job -- or present a real case for getting rid of him and an alternative that is not any of you, unless you want to apply for the job and present your credentials like anyone else.

And last, but not least, this is still salvageable. Dial down the egos where necessary and increase the discussions. Instead of using a flamethrower, consider being leaders of a real discussion about where this county heads next.

Use your new public relations staff to set up a countywide event that invites leaders to talk about everything from priorities for the county's future to managing expenses and taxes and encouraging growth.

There are other people who might have some insight worth considering.

And do it where the people can hear -- and not just for a homemade television station that very few people are watching or amongst yourselves in private discussions.

We are waiting for you to live up to your potential and to be the leaders who can really take this county forward.

But it is, really, up to all of you to change course.

Published in Editorials on June 18, 2013 11:25 AM