Election carries responsibility

On July 15, the Wood County Commission appointed Mark Rhodes to succeed Jamie Six by unanimous vote. The commission’s vote did take place in public, but only after Commissioner Dunn’s proposal to hold a “secret ballot” was objected to by Commissioner Couch.

I take no issue with the decision to appoint Rhodes. I believe it was the best option and in the public’s interest. I do, however take issue with how Dunn, the “presiding officer,” proposed to proceed – a ballot – an express “no-no” for any public governing body.

It is the responsibility of any elected or appointed public official to inform themselves of the laws governing how they conduct the public’s business (and conduct themselves). I am dismayed that Dunn continues to act in ways that show complete ignorance of the statutory rules he is subject to – especially as this year’s presiding officer of the commission. As that behavior appears continuous (starting with the “meeting fiasco” last February), it shows a disregard for the law and his responsibility to know the very basic laws he is subject to as a public official.

Dunn, at a minimum, should have a working knowledge of the pertinent parts of the WV Code: Chapter 6, Article 9A; “Open Governmental Proceedings”; Chapter 6B, “Public Officers and Employees; Ethics; Conflicts of Interest; Financial Disclosure”; and Chapter 7, “County Commissions and Officers”.

It is acceptable for an elected official to consult legal counsel (prosecutor in this case) on technical matters, desirable when facing complex or new issues, but we should expect elected officials to “do their homework” and be prepared to competently conduct ordinary business. Dunn is not meeting that expectation.

Jeff DeVol

Williamstown