Meanwhile, Back on the Farm . . .
As a result of personal experiences with local political thuggery, I’ve decided to jump headlong into the political scene in my township. My locale is most decidedly dominated by Democrats, who, as I’ve learned put the “rats” in the word, “Democrats.” They are a nasty bunch who are used to running the show around here like kings rather than elected officials. I among several, as I’ve recently found out, have had enough and I plan on doing something about it.
I’ve started to attend town board meetings and I plan to editorialize the local politics as much as possible in order to shine the light of day on the local shenanigans . . . after all, the best antiseptic is the light of day. Finally, in about a year and half, I’ll run against the current miscreants (aka, the incumbents).
Now and again, I’ll blog on my political efforts on the local scale. If anything, some may find it an enjoyable and sometimes amusing read. Others, on the other hand, may be able and willing to share good advice . . . the RedState community is chock full of expertise and wisdom, which are just some of the many reasons that RedState, in my opinion, is the most valuable conservative website on the Internet.
Below is my first sortie in what I hope will be a relentless campaign to demonstrate to the public why the incumbents must be put out to pasture (Note, there’s no word limit in the local newspaper). Like it? Dislike it? Have any advice? Please feel free to let me know. I appreciate any help/advice/suggestions from the RedState community. It may just be a small township in rural Wisconsin, but it’s my small township and right now it’s being run into the ground by Olbermann-esque Democrats. Anyhow, here’s the first editorial:
Transparency and accountability are what make for an honest government. Closed doors, secrecy, and defensiveness, whether it is by design or by simple incompetence, are what inevitably lead to distrust and suspicion. Really, the formula is pretty simple . . . as a public official, if you show all your cards, then no one can accuse you of cheating.
The three kings of Linden Township (aka, the 2 supervisors and the chairman) either never learned the benefits of public accountability or, worse, they feel they are above it. This, at least, was my impression as I attended the Linden Township Board meeting on July 8, 2009.
Accountability, by the way, is something I’m very familiar with in my professional life. I work in the UW system on just those kinds of topics. A lot of time and expense go into making sure the public has full, yet concise information on the inner workings of the university. Want to know about enrollment trends? Perhaps you have an interest in the financial health of the university? Maybe your chief concern lies with campus safety. Then again, it wouldn’t be unheard of if you were interested in the frequency of alcohol abuse on campus or even how engaged students are in the campus learning environment. If you, as a citizen, harbored any of those curiosities, well then guess what? You can find that information out and in an easy to read format too! We at the UW will not hand you a giant binder of what amounts to statistical hieroglyphics and bid you adieu by saying, “Good luck with that!” Instead, we strive to make the information clear, concise, and easily understandable to a lay audience. That folks is what you call accountability. Best of all though, accountability, if done right, is precisely what keeps public officials honest and maintains integrity in the affairs of government.
Recently, another synonym for accountability has been bandied about in the sphere of politics. “Transparency” is the new buzzword for accountability. Are the affairs of your township board transparent? Are they opaque? Or, are they screened behind an impenetrable wall of solid black? Whatever Linden Township is, it certainly isn’t transparent. I could at least see that much by attending a town board meeting.
In a computerized world, with Internet capability in even remote regions, it’s astoundingly unfathomable that the Linden Township Board can’t even produce a document that clearly explains an up to date report on the financial status of the township at each board meeting. Haven’t they ever heard of QuickBooks or Excel? Instead, and only recently I’ve been informed, the board is handing out a collection of papers detailing some of the monthly expenses. If you want to make sense of it, then go home and break out your calculator. Forget about discussing it at the same meeting it’s handed out. And, don’t bother asking for any details about revenues either. Only half the story for you serf!
How about a township web page? Nah! Too expensive! The only way they’ll do that is if it’s perfectly free. After all, they reminded the public, the town is in debt! Of course, at the same time the board makes this assertion, there, sitting right next to them, is their lawyer who is paid at taxpayer expense to attend each meeting. Her rate, I’m told, is 150 smackers per hour. At least the board seems to be getting their money’s worth. In my opinion, she fielded most of the public’s questions while the board did their very best imitation of a deer caught in the headlights.
Then, there was the “closed session” where the public was thrown out of the hall and had to wait outside. The three board members and their lawyer huddled in private. Even the elected town clerk was asked to take a hike. A closed session, of course, is allowable under Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. However, the reasons are quite limited and the public must be informed of the subject matter under discussion before the closed session officially begins. At least on July 8, 2009, the subject matter of the closed session remained a mystery. Were they discussing the alleged crash landing of an alien spacecraft in Roswell, New Mexico? Maybe they’ve got some inside information on the search for the Yeti? They could have discovered how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop and were figuring the best way to inform America. What marvels were discussed in that closed session? The world may never know! Maybe Robert Stack, the old host of “Unsolved Mysteries” can lend us a hand?
All in all, the Linden Township Board meeting of July 8, 2009 was an embarrassing show of incompetence, ignorance, and who knows what else. One supervisor is brand new to the job. So, he might get a pass until he bones up on how to do his job properly. The other two, however . . . Supervisor Larry Wolf and Chairman Dean Liddicoat . . . are long time board members. What, pray tell, is their excuse? Did their dog eat their copy of the state statutes?
The time for accountability is today . . . right now! Business as usual in the Linden Township must come to an end. Transparency is the law. The public has a right to know how its tax dollars are being managed by its elected officials . . . or, in the case of Linden Township, mismanaged. The Linden Township Board needs to be severely reminded that they are elected officials accountable to their constituents. They are not kings.
I leave you with what, perhaps, should be the official song of Linden Township. Here’s one verse and chorus, sung to the classic carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Enjoy!
We three kings of Linden Township
Bring you taxes and hardship
We’re in debt and you can bet
This is coming out of your check
Ohhh-OHH, Don’t go wondering how or why
That’s the kings’ business, so don’t you pry
Stop complainin’ we ain’t explainin’
Not with our lawyer by our side!