Misguided move by commission

Wood County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to cut their work year by 24-30 days, depending upon where Monday holidays fall within a month.

The commission, under the misguided leadership of Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer, took the action contending it would make the commission and county government more efficient, in essence Dunn said by having fewer meetings to “waste” their time, the public’s time and county officeholders’ time.

Of course, it also means the public will have two fewer mornings a month in which to address their county commissioners in a formal meeting setting.

Under the written proposal presented by Dunn and quickly supported by Gainer, the commission would continue to meet Monday mornings and on the first and third Thursday of the month. One of the Thursday meetings would be for “planning” and “any agenda items” and the other would be for scheduled “probate” hearings.

Under the revamped schedule, the commission would not meet on Mondays that fall on a holiday, which has been standard practice, but would meet on that Thursday if the holiday falls prior to the first or third Thursday of the month.

The commission has every legal right to set its meeting schedule, but the public has every right to expect the commission to be accessible and cutting two mornings a month from that accessibility is potentially counterproductive for the public.

When the two commissioners ran for office they knew the traditional meeting schedule, they knew the nearly $40,000-year-old salary for the job and they should have known they were elected to serve the public. Now, Dunn and Gainer want to work less, be paid the same and not be as accessible as the commission to the public.

If Dunn and Gainer don’t want to serve the public, they should admit that and move on. But changing the schedule is not the way for them to give themselves more time to do their personal business.

Blair Couch voted against the change and lobbied for the traditional meetings schedule to continue, even locating an 1817 county journal indicating the commission had been meeting twice a week since that time.

Couch was right to vote against the change. It’s just sad his fellow commissioners already had made up their closed minds.

***

Congress fumbled along for months before a last-ditch measure finally managed to keep Americans from falling into financial recession. But, sadly, Congress only partially addressed the budget and financial issues before it.

Yes, the Senate finally took a leadership roll, hammering out a bipartisan compromise bill that kept taxes from rising for all but the wealthier Americans. And, voting nearly along party lines, the House finally accepted the compromise with Republicans dragging their feet.

Spending cuts, which is the other half of the issue, was postponed for two months, as if that spending cuts battle will not be another last-minute cliffhanger and continue the hostility and political gamesmanship that has been going on in Congress for far too long.

There is little doubt the federal government needs to cut its spending, but the issue is where to make those cuts without seriously affecting the American populous.

Republicans continue to want severe cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, along with changes in Social Security-all of which would adversely affect a large percentage of our aging population that has paid into these programs for decades.

Defense Department programs and equipment not sought or supported by the Pentagon also have been proposed for cuts, but Republicans have opposed those, making one wonder if that opposition is little more than for the financial benefit of defense contractors in home districts.

Maybe both parties need to cease trying to take a machete to the budget and start using a scalpel instead. Maybe it’s time to permit the long-sought line-item veto to be approved by Congress and used to eliminate some of those pet projects in the budget tacked on by congressmen to aid their district’s voters.

It certainly is long past time for Congress to cease its petty politics and begin working for the nation instead of posturing for their political party’s next election cycle.

The American people have every right to be disgusted and ashamed of the manner in which Congress conducts the public’s business. Unfortunately, though, we have seen this petty bickering go on for so long that Americans seem to expect it … and that may be the saddest part of the national view of Washington politics.

Americans deserve better and Congress needs to do better!

Contact Jim Smith at jsmith@newsandsentinel.com