A message to the commissioners of the county

Marion County Commissioners, get your house in order.

Yes, those words seem harsh. The harsh truth is, if change is not forthcoming in the way you handle internal differences and cannot learn to get along for the good of the taxpayers of this county, then the taxpayers must implement change at the ballot box.

In the interest of fairness, two of the five commissioners have just begun their newly elected terms. The learning curve is quite steep and there are many obstacles in your way. For that, you have our sympathies and gratitude for stepping up to do the work. The challenge to perform the task you were elected to, however, remains.

As an aid to assisting each member in the process, consider the following;

  • After establishing and agreeing on agenda items, follow meeting protocols on how meetings should be run. Use the Roberts Rules of Order. If you are not familiar with them, a book, “Robert’s Rules Simplified,” written by Arthur T. Lewis and Henry M. Robert, or one like it is available online or in most libraries.

 Pay close attention to the procedures for not only recognizing members who have the floor, but also when a motion is made from the floor, and the proper method for        securing a second and subsequent actions following it.

Why is this important? Of the meetings attended and meetings personally observed via YouTube video, it is apparent better efforts need to be made to establish protocols to make meetings more productive.

  • Do your homework and get the information you need to provide qualified input which will place your constituent’s needs in the proper perspective and priority. This homework requires an investment in time, away from the meeting.

Due diligence is the correct term for gathering available evidence and use to arrive at an informed decision. It is the act of examining something carefully, to discover the facts (truth) about it.

Though asking questions of fellow commissioners is permissible, whenever there is a need for background information or follow up, it is your duty to secure further data from other sources so your conclusions are not unduly influenced by opinions and factors outside your control.

You are not obligated to have made the right decision but required to make a decision based on the gathering of available facts which a reasonable and prudent individual can make.

Inquiry regarding the tested quality of a rock sample is performing due diligence. Collecting data, consolidating, collating and creating a summary of multiple submitted samples of rock quality is an act of due diligence. Test driving a road that needs major improvements is as well. Communicating with constituents regarding road and bridge conditions is, too. Inquiry into and establishing appropriate policies for employees is as well. One caveat; do not trust anyone who comes forward with an opinion regarding test quality or any other subject. Only trust reliable independent third-party data, bought and paid for by your authorization.

  • Office management and interaction with taxpayers; the most common response during a request for checking out poor road conditions is, “We do not have the resources to take immediate care of your needs. You must realize Marion County has more miles than most road departments, so we may not be able to get to you very soon.”

The one-minute rebuttal, often followed by a debate whether or not this warrants further inquiry commences thus; Office employee, “okay, what’s the location of your problem? One mile east of K-15 and 370th? Where is that? Don’t know where that is. The Marion/Dickinson County line? Where again? K-15 highway, north to the Marion County line, okay. Which direction? East? Which road? 370th. Really? Okay. Give me your number and I’ll give _(boss)__ the message.”

That last sentence generally ends the conversation, forever. No callbacks. No return visits. This must change.

  • Lastly, but certainly not least; based on newspaper accounts regarding the contracting out of our recently hired County Engineer to a wind farm project, without substantial remuneration of pay, I do not support this and neither should the taxpayers. We have just begun the recovery process in restoring and improving our roads and bridges. We have only been able to see this effort taking shape as road conditions are beginning to improve.

We did not hire a county engineer for the purpose of providing taxpayer-funded expertise to a private enterprise.

Harsh words should be used sparingly, if ever. It seems we have not used them enough, especially when it comes to addressing the dysfunctional nature of county government, and road conditions.

Written By
More from Paul Penner
Opinions change in political winds
?If I recall correctly, as a school boy living in western Texas,...
Read More