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Editorial

Don’t waste taxpayer dollars
Taxpayers like to grumble. And politicians like to point out that the cost of government is high. We suppose that’s true, as costs and prices seem ever to be on the increase, but yet we sometimes think taxpayers are well within their right to grumble.
When we see thousands being spent on late fees and thousands more on uncovering water lines with the possiblity of even more dollars spent on replacement lines, we can’t help but cringe. We know that if we were constantly behind on our various payments and shelling out more than needed for late fees, we would soon be running our households on deficit budgets, as well. Money spent on late fees adds up quickly on an annual basis. It’s money that could be used elsewhere on something tangible rather than an arbitrary payment to a corporation already making millions.
The same goes for money spent on expensive work projects. The projects themselves are, of course, needed and necessary and the associated expenses have to be borne. But how are we, as taxpayers, supposed to feel when a project is done incorrectly — when engineer recommendations are ignored? When state permit guidelines are not adhered to?
Taxpayer dollars used once for a project and then used again to redo that same project. Double whammy — and we all know who gets the brunt of the punch.
And then we have a case where taxpayer money is being used to, basically, sue the ones from whose pockets it came from to begin with. Johnson County taxpayers have paid their share of county school taxes. Now, those same tax dollars are being used by the county board of education to sue those same taxpayers in an attempt to prevent them from having a say in whether or not the school tax rate should increase.
Sounds like another double whammy. Taxpayers are already reeling from the hits directed at them each payday. Should they really have to lift themselves back up just to get sucker punched again?
Elected officials and their appointees are the stewards of our tax dollars. It’s time to bite the bullet and prepare for a little inconvenience. That’s what us taxpayers do when handling the dollars left over after the cuts to our paychecks.
It’s easy to dine heartily on another’s expense; not so easy, however, when the check is being paid from one’s own pocket.


Darts and Laurels

A laurel to State Representative Hubert Collins as he enters his 13th term in office — good work and trust are rewarded!

A dart to beating on babies — those who do have no plausible defense.

A laurel to Cheryl Castle and her bravery — we wish you continued healing!

A dart to meth-making and its toxic materials and end product — are ya nuts? Stop it!

A laurel to Boyd Holbrook and his continuing success — looking forward to ‘Little Accidents’!


Darts and Laurels

A laurel to local teacher LaTonya Rowe and her use of innovative technology to inspire our students!

A dart to another life lost in a highway accident — tragic and sad.

A laurel to learning life-saving techniques and using them — good work, Bonnie and Savannah!

A dart to drunk driving — no matter who you are.

A laurel to gaining a new president at BSCTC — welcome, Dr. Chrestman!


Editorial

Secrecy leads to suspicion

Public transparency — just how far does it go? When taxpayer dollars are funding operations and payrolls, we feel the public does have a right to know where those dollars are going. Otherwise, how would we know if bids were being awarded illegally or dollars were being spent on unnecessary projects?
And, in most cases, we feel we have the right to know when it comes to the salaries of public officials.
But what of situations that go beyond payroll amounts? That delve into “private personnel matters”?
To a point, we still feel the public has a right to know. But to what point?
Are taxpayer dollars being spent to fund the salary of a negligent, or incompetent, official or office staff? Certainly, being incompetent in one’s job duties or grossly negligent with one’s responsibilities is a concern for the public, especially if it’s the public who is paying.
And then we have matters such as workplace sexual harrassment, office bullying, misuse of funds, favoritism ... any number of situations that the public would do well to be informed of.
But what if an official or public employee is being scrutinized behind closed doors? In closed sessions by the public entity’s board of directors? On multiple occasions? At what point does the public have the right to be informed? Or do we?
These questions, and more, have arisen from a few noticeable happenings at our local public utilities office. For one, the noteable absence of General Manager Eric Ratliff in the past few weeks. Rumors have floated on the winds in every direction — Ratliff has been suspended from his duties; he is on “extended leave”; an investigation regarding his workplace conduct is being examined; the “powers that be” want to replace him because they don’t like his political affiliations.
“I’ve discovered that the less I say, the more rumors I start” is a quote attributed to actor Bobby Clarke.
We feel it’s very true that the more secrecy is involved, the more rumors will be, too.
In journalism, we feel an obligation to keep the public informed. Or at least to attempt to. We understand that we are not privy to all matters discussed by an executive board of a public entity — that’s why executive sessions are held and noted. We even understand when an involved party prefers to stay silent themselves. We all value our privacy and, regardless of what many believe, we, too, value the privacy of others. We don’t name victims of sexual assault and we don’t name those under 18 charged with a crime. We feel certain there are other cases in which we choose to protect an individual’s privacy, as well.
But when our phones are ringing, when we are contacted on Facebook, when tongues are wagging and others are telling us we are shirking our duties to inform, we begin to wonder at what point do we attempt to delve deeper? Or at what point do we decide to just sit back complacently and watch as “things unfold.”
But mostly, we wonder — why the secrecy? Nothing much good ever comes from secrecy. Whether it ends in hurt feelings or illegal activity; the more secrecy abounds, the more rumors do, too.
And the more questions begin to surface.
“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts” — William Tecumseh Sherman.
At the Herald, we truly attempt to separate fact from fiction in our reporting — when we can get the facts, that is.


Darts and Laurels

A laurel to those sworn in to new terms of public service — you keep the wheels rolling!

A dart to losing loved ones at holiday time — hard anytime but moreso at holiday time.

A laurel to improved broadband service in eastern Kentucky — can’t arrive soon enough!

A dart to those pesky potholes on College Street — be gone!

A laurel to Leadership Johnson County and its commitment to community!

Jan 7, 2015, 07:39



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