Wag the Dog

I truly appreciate several of the sincere illuminations articulated by some members of Fairfield County Council during their comment session at last Monday’s meeting (Sept. 8). The aforementioned comments provided helpful insight into their view of Council’s role in governing. We are now able to better understand some of Councils’ mystifying actions.

The most enlightening (and frightening) comment was a tepid defense of former County Administrator Mr. Phillip Hinely, who is viewed by at least one Councilperson as “one of the nicest people I have worked for . . .” Who knew the Council is subordinate to the administrator? This role juxtaposition is completely counter to any acceptable government standard or definition. This “tail wags the dog” governing perspective surely explains why Council allowed Mr. Hinely to stonewall the media and the public from learning the truth about his unprofessional behavior. Additionally, this view gives us an understanding into why Mr. Hinely was allowed to operate without requiring contract bids. One need look no further than the costly Drawdy Park fiasco to understand the inherent danger of no-contract bids. Indeed, an unchecked Empire Building Administrator can easily be cited as the catalyst behind our unprecedented spending and borrowing spree, which manifested exorbitantly high property tax rate increases (despite receiving well over a $1 billion from V.C. Summer). Lastly, defending Mr. Hinely only with his nicety quotient (and many would disagree with that) leaves us to believe that professionalism and competency are not viewed as paramount in the administrator position. With government perspectives like these it is clear we have much work to do in Fairfield.

Some other Council perspectives seemed to abdicate Council accountability for their many self-inflected wounds. An unbiased person must hold the Council responsible for the many embarrassing calamities including the Hinely porno scandal, Drawdy Park fiasco, LOST monies accountability, high taxes, industrial building without a water supply, unsubstantiated expense reimbursements, $43 million debt commitment without a public referendum, ethics fines, a $100,000 rec building immediately mothballed in storage for eternity, no bid contracts, closed administrator hiring practices, etc., etc. The Council view, however, seems to blame those who call out the misdeeds but not blame those who committed them. Blaming the messenger and hiding the problem is not the answer. If Council members fully understood their role we would have a much more effective, efficient and transparent government for all the people.

Thanks again to Council members for their candid insights. Now we can all work together to help the Council better understand their roles and move this great county forward.

Randy Bright

Ridgeway