Good Judgment Is Free

editorial-logo3Sometimes I think that Public Officials are confused about what the public expects. They get all caught up in the legalese of an issue and only focus on what is written in code or that has an official opinion from one legal mind or another. Ultimately, it is not the court of law that these officials will answer to, but, rather, the court of public opinion. Questions have arisen about the legalities of conflict of interest and obligations to have open records. My response would be this-if you have to ask a legal opinion if voting on an issue is a conflict of interest then you already know that it is, regardless of what the legal world believes. It is an unfortunate truth that politicians cross the lines between what the courts will allow and the much higher expectations of the voting public. We listen to our elected officials fight and bicker and revisit issues over and over and over again and, yet, when the public has a very real cause for concern it is brushed off as insignificant. They throw around words like ethics and transparency but those are just words. It was almost funny that during the last Commission meeting the majority of our elected officials voted to not have the Jefferson County Sheriff and the County Building and Safety Director meet once a year to discuss County meeting safety.

The issue of meeting safety was raised by a citizen and it was dismissed in a team vote. What was funny, if it wasn’t so potentially tragic, was that  some of the very Commissioners that voted against an annual meeting to discuss meeting safety just voted to spend a substantial amount of money putting SROs in every school. Now, I am not against school safety, in fact I support any move that will limit the exposure to danger for even one of our students. But it seems if you are concerned about safety, then you would be all for a meeting. After all, it wasn’t going to cost the tax payers a dime. Commissioners indicated that they feel safe at County meetings and I agree that I, too, feel safe.  The rub is that the citizen that wrote the letter was not concerned with the safety of our elected officials, but, rather, the safety of citizens from our elected officials. Allegations of one Commissioner’s behavior outside of meetings being threatening contributed to the citizen’s concerns about measures to keep the public safe. It was a vote for a Meeting… that is like asking for permission to think about an issue… it was a give-me or at least is should have been. So, here it is in a nutshell. If you are an elected official and you sit on a board that is requesting funding, particularly one that is controversial, just don’t vote. Nobody cares if you can legally vote. You weren’t elected to only do what is legal, you were elected to do what is right. That goes for school system employees that are elected officials, as well. We, the people, don’t want to have to question the motives of our elected officials. And, when one of your own shows poor judgment, don’t circle him like the cows do the calves when a coyote is near. We are all adults here and responsible for our own alleged bad behavior. Team vote on what toppings to put on your pizza or where to have the next Christmas party but not on issues that impact the residents of Jefferson County. From what I hear, good judgment is free.

Source: K. Depew, News Director