by John Grooms
If members of the County Commission want some idea of why so many people are fed up with them, they should watch themselves in last nights meeting. Case in point: the incredibly petty arguments over whether commissioners should accept free tickets to the CIAA tourney. Only a governmental board as semi-dysfunctional as our County Commission could get into a verbal brawl about accepting tickets to an event while the event is taking place. There were other choice moments, including a tirade by the often out to lunch but always interesting Commissioner George Dunlap, who reamed out Bill James in a variety of equally incoherent ways. Readers of this blog know Im no fan of James, but come on ... blaming James for some kind of widespread conspiracy with the Observer?! Get a friggin' grip. If you want to see last night's meeting, go here and click through to the March 1 meeting.
So heres the quick, easy way to handle the CIAA tickets brouhaha: First, no county commissioners or county manager staff members get any tickets. Period. It is obvious to anyone with even the slightest concern about conflicts of interest that local members of government should not accept gifts from organizations that they subsidize. Those kinds of arrangements are, in fact, a good working definition of "conflict of interest." And never mind that some attorney said it was OK if they got them from the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which received them from the CIAA tourney folks. That kind of word-twisting shenanigans and self-serving mumbo-jumbo is one of the primary reasons people mistrust, not to say hate, politicians.
Second, let the county managers office find out in advance how many tickets the CIAA is handing out, and then hold a raffle for the tickets among county employees, barring any elected officials or the county manager, or their staffs, from participating. The countys raffle could raise money for a good cause, some county employees would be very happy to get tickets, employee morale would be helped, commissioners wouldnt look like petty grifters, and taxpayers would know that, at least in this one little area, the county was finally, finally handling something correctly and in an open, aboveboard way. Jesus, this stuff isnt that hard, people werent you elected to do something worth a damn, rather than bicker over freebies and throw insults around at the drop of a hat? Is anyone else thinking about the value of voter recalls?