The Days of Our Lives

editorial-logo3There are weeks that go by in the County that would lull any reasonable person into believing that we actually have our stuff together. And then there are weeks like last week, when I wonder how we don’t implode. It appears that we are in a fight on several fronts and the little battles are beginning to take the shape of a civil war.

Most of the time, you can trace the culprit back to money or power, though the truth is that one breeds the other, and this is no exception. Three factions are pitted against each other to determine just who will come out holding the dollars for economic development. The trouble is that only one of the three is asking for money. The two left are struggling in their own right, but both are too busy regrouping to be looking at the dollar signs. Of course, the three are the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Development Board, and the EDA. All serve very different roles in economic development in Jefferson County, but they are much like a three legged stool. If all are not functioning effectively, the balance is off and a fall is imminent. Right now, none of the three are stable. All three have had shake ups in their composition and all three have had a difficult time defining what their role is in the murky waters of economic development in Jefferson County. With no clear direction for the County, the three have had their own challenges within their various organizations regarding which path to travel.

While I believe that all three organizations need to do a little restructuring and return to the roots of their inceptions, I have a problem in pitting one against the other for funding. Each serves a very important function for Jefferson County, and their funding needs are as varied as their charge. I have my own ideas on economic development and they do not include large scale industrial development. I prefer more quality of life ventures and looking at natural areas of economic growth such as a large scale recreation project. Unemployment rates look good. The tax rate looks good. Jefferson County is prospering despite, or because, there is no large mega site or industrial park. But, no matter where you fall on economic development, any kind of economic development requires work from the Chamber of Commerce, the IDB and the EDA. Competition among those organizations does not bode well for any growth potential, but it tourism, cooperate, existing business, large industry or quality of life.

And then there is the search for the new Director of Jefferson County Schools. But first, hold that thought. We must, must, must find a interim Director as a placeholder for Edmonds when he leaves at the end of the calendar year. This week’s School Board meeting was almost a comedy of errors. Meaning that it would have almost been funny if the subject wasn’t so serious. Two of the six Board Members present made a motion to appoint Dominique Davis as the interim Director and I think that would have been a fine move if they could have articulated why they believed that she should be the placeholder. Any number of reasons would have sufficed. The most reasonable would have been her current function in the Central Office. Davis is the supervisor that oversees the middle and high schools which would make her the logical choice for the position. Before the shift in titles in the Central Office the Director of Secondary Education was the second in command if the Director was indisposed. Sure the titles have shifted but the internal structure would still support the person functioning in that position as the second in charge. That would have been a much more appealing appeal then what was offered. It was obvious from the body language that some of the School Board members felt left out of the loop and, considering that there should be no loop, it was a clumsy, disturbing meeting at best. Though the move to make Davis interim was withdrawn and the topic will be up for vote at the November meeting, it was a little disturbing that no information on how to handle the possibility of a Central Office move was offered. No ideas on compensation. No ideals on handling two directors on pay roll at the same time. No particulars at all. Just hire Davis. A plan is a wonderful thing as long as transparency is not sacrificed at the alter of a questionable motion.

So, here we go again. It is like your grandmother’s favorite soap opera. Will the Chamber of Commerce, the IDB and the EDA go to war over money? Will the School Board find a new Director before the word clandestine makes it way into the headlines? Is Jefferson County ever going to know where it is going before it gets there? These are, unfortunately, the days of our lives. Stay tuned.

Source: K. Depew, News Director

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