That’s My Opinion
By Bob Robinson
In a perfect world, government functions much like a business… a
not-for-profit business. Shareholders or board members (taxpayers) hire
(elect) executives (public officials) to lead the organization
(government entity). They expect full disclosure of all actions and
moneys spent, then determine if those actions are appropriate and in
compliance with their expectations.
If they are, all is well. If they aren’t, the “employers” have a number
of options open to them. They can correct the situation through more
restrictive guidelines. They can give the leader a “slap on the hand.”
They can “fine” him/her or offer some other form of punishment,
especially if otherwise the individual is doing a good job. They can
Or they can say “the heck with it” and move on.
Most of you are familiar with the recent issue regarding the Darke
County Commissioners, the EMA and Melody Lucas. If not, you will find
links to the articles and opinions below. Lucas was the whistleblower
regarding the activities of former EMA Director June Mong… activities
which resulted in Mong being dismissed (or resigning) from her
position. Which actually occurred is still an open question.
About a month ago, two local taxpayers asked – once again – what
actually happened, and why at least two allegedly qualified individuals
were passed over in favor of someone who was evidently less qualified.
The person hired, Rick Lee, reportedly needed considerable training at
taxpayer expense in order to meet those requirements. Then he resigned
to go back into manufacturing, a field in which he said he was more
The opinions of these constituents were posted on County News Online.
They were answered with silence.
Because I’m a taxpayer myself, and because many other taxpayers were
still scratching their heads trying to figure out what was going on, I
once again called on our “executives” to explain the reasons for their
decisions and the ultimate cost to us with my column “I’m Mad as Hell.”
I got jumped on. Big time.
The “spokesperson” for the Darke County Commissioners, Commissioner
Mike Stegall, responded to my column…
“Gosh Bob, I thought you were a real newspaper man. If you have
all these questions, frustrations, and whatever, why have you not asked
us yourself? Are you going to just throw your frustration against the
wall, get everybody riled up, and then walk away? Be a newspaper guy
again!! Make an appointment with us, tell the entire County that you
are going to get to the bottom of this, and then find out what we have
to say. Geez, I didn’t think you would become like most people on
the blogs and get “Mad as Hell” and not do anything about it! You have
a responsibility to inform the people, SO DO IT!! Your latest rant made
you seem like mainstream media. Throw out all this stuff, walk away,
and then look yourself in the mirror and say ’Wow, I sure showed them!’”
Needless to say, I bristled at that… especially the mainstream media
My response was “why bother?” I had no desire to waste my time (and
that of the Commissioners) setting up a meeting to ask questions that
had already been asked in one way or another and were left unanswered.
However, he said make up a list of questions and he’ll run it by
Commissioners Mike Rhoades and Diane Delaplane.
Despite my firm belief that it would be a waste of time and energy, I
I took time I didn’t have and researched to see if I’d missed anything
remotely addressing unanswered taxpayer questions (I didn’t), then
researched as much of the “history” that was actually available. Then I
reviewed the columns that were published earlier.
I sent him a two-page list of questions that, in my opinion, had yet to
be answered. They can be condensed to three main areas: 1. What were
the specific circumstances in which Mong actually left? 2. Why were
qualified individuals passed over in favor of someone who needed
training? 3. What was the “real” cost to the taxpayer (unemployment and
other undisclosed expenses for Mong plus training for Lee plus total
cost of settlement and attorney fees for Lucas)?
Stegall promised to pass the letter on to see if they would respond,
either by email or in a meeting. I had to nag him once but eventually
he called me back and said, “Sorry. No dice. I tried.”
Color me surprised.
So I thanked him for trying and thought about it. In their minds it was
a dead issue. They wanted it to go away. I told one of the
Commissioners that it wasn’t going away. As it turned out, I was wrong. I’ve heard little
grumbling over the past few weeks, so it seems they are getting their
wish. Taxpayers are going back to their daily concerns… at least until
something else hits the fan.
What frustrates me is that despite being “elected” and responsible to
their employers, their behavior in this particular instance is more
like the behavior of some appointed bureaucrats in Washington who are
currently refusing to respond to questions from elected Congressional
You might note that there were no questions on my list that violated
the specifics of the conversation(s) that led to the settlement with
Lucas. Rhoades said those discussions occurred in "Executive Session."
Delaplane said she was following attorney advice by not talking about
that particular situation.
My questions dealt with what led up to that event and the ultimate cost
to the taxpayer. These were questions I felt were reasonable to be
answered by our public servants.
I’m on record as applauding the Commissioners for doing a good job
fiscally. Based upon information I’ve been able to obtain, this still
seems to be the case. However I no longer know for sure because my
questions about this latest issue won’t be answered.
Full disclosure? That’s another ball game. Their employers
either no longer care or have given up. Yup. I guess it will go away.
This is not a perfect world.
Frustrated? Sure. Communication requires two and, in this case, one of the two won't participate.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?
I’m Mad as Hell... click here
Don Wright is always Wright, this time he’s Right!... click here
To My Fellow Taxpayers... click here
For You the Voter to Decide... click here
David & Goliath (or Rabid Dog)... click here
Watching the County Commissioners Implode... click here
Delaplane: “No, I will not be resigning”... click here
Dialog continues with Darke County Citizen Karyl Parks... click here
Lucas Issue still hot, Anonymous chat boxes criticized... click here
Fireworks erupt at Wednesday’s Commissioners Session... click here
Public Meeting Minutes on Lucas settlement posted... click here
Whistleblower claim costs Darke County over $60,000... click here