Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BUTLER COUNTY: Shadow Government Update

Michael Pitman has two pieces on the Butler County Shadow Commission that are worth takinga look at...

Here are a few things from the first...
“Dialogue is good, and I decided that it should take place in the open,” he said. “Quite frankly, leaving Commissioner Furmon out of the dialogue may have been wrong.”

-- Commissioner Don Dixon
No, Commissioner, you got caught.  Now we are supposed to believe that you think county business ought to take place out in the open?  Sorry, no sale.  If you actually believed that, you wouldn't have masterminded these talks in the first place.
Carpenter defended the idea of discussing alternatives, saying, “We need creative, innovative administrators.”

-- Commissioner Cindy Carpenter
Yes, but more than that, we need to have full faith in our government restored.  I have no objection to creativity or innovation, but I strenuously object to backroom deals and "good old boy" politics even if the old boy happens to be a woman.
Furmon said he knew nothing of the behind-the-scenes discussions until the day before they were supposed to take place. He said he was “amazed and disappointed.”

County staff “have really worked hard and under adverse circumstances,” Furmon said. “It just seems like a strange way to do business.”

--Commissioner Chuck Furmon
More on Furmon's reactions when we get to the second piece, but I want to reiterate that I don't necessarily oppose the idea that changes need to be made.  I agree with Furmon that the Dixon-Carpneter Shadow Government does seem like a strange way to do business.  Unfortunately, this is the sort of ehtics in government that this county has been sufering from for quite some time.

Now, on to the second article...
The two could legally meet without violating Ohio’s Sunshine Law, because Carpenter had not yet been sworn in as a county commissioner.
I have no problem with them meeting.  I have a problem with them making decisions and interviewing candidates all without the knowledge of their colleague who is -- supposedly -- in the same party as these two.

For me, this comes down to the fact that we do not have a unified front in dealing with the economic mess we find ourselves in because there are too many factions protecting their little fiefdoms at the expense of doing what is right.

So, yeah, legally they could meet...but I think the county would have been better served by doing the right thing.
Dixon put some of the blame for the current state of the county on himself, saying commissioners’ “leadership needs to be a little more pronounced.”

“I think particularly with me. I need to give more direct direction,” Dixon said. “I’m going to work on my style, help them work on their style.”
Oh, boy, where do I start...

A successful commission works as a team.  There is no 'i' in team.  That is a cliche for a reason.  Don't get me wrong, I don't expect commissioners to not have any differences at all, but I don't think it is too much for these people to show each other respect.  More than anything, Dixon could use a healthy does of humility and recognize that he is a part of a team that includes not just the other two commissioners, but the entire administration.
Carpenter defended the decision to discuss alternatives, saying she still believes practices need to change.

“One of the things that we have said in the past few months is we need to fundamentally change the way we do business,” she said.
I would agree with you Cindy, but there is a right way of doing things and you have demonstrated that you are not capable of seeing it.

My biggest fear about Carpenter has been her many connections to former Commissioner Mike Fox.  This move comes right out of the Mike Fox play book.  Is that really what we need in this county?  A replay of Mike Fox politics? I don't think so...
Furmon, who was oblivious to the conversations between Dixon and Carpenter, said Tuesday he wants to work past the closed-door meetings of his two colleagues. It was a much less aggressive stance than he took in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, in which he referred to his colleagues’ actions as “the epitome of arrogance.”

Furmon said the county administration has “bent over backwards” to present a 2011 budget. While he’s not happy with the back-room discussions, Furmon said wants to move on.
“I’m hoping to get past this and continue working together and do what’s right for the county,” Furmon told Cox Media Group Ohio.
Take note, Butler County Republicans, who the good guy is in all of this.  In every battle brought Furmon's way, he has taken the high road.  He serves this county with dignity and a moral code that is centered on doing what is right for the county.

But his reaction on Sunday in the Enquirer was right on target: It was the epitome of arrogance.  And while Furmon may wish to move on, I think it does the party and the citizenry as a whole a disservice if we don't remember this treachery down the road.

I have said it before and I will say it again: We can do better.  We have to do better.