Open letter to County Commissioner Phil Bane
Monday, June 16, 2014 10:00 PM
From the looks of things some local politicians, like County Commissioner Phil Bane, are getting upset. Nothing wrong with that. Bane and others are being questioned and apparently, they don't much like it. Nothing wrong with that either. What is wrong, though, is the decision to ignore a good part of their constituents and conduct business in a way that not only doesn't help move the county forward, but could actually hurt. And since he won't talk directly with us at your friendly Montgomery County daily, let's try addressing this to him.
Dear Commissioner Bane,
I saw that you recently held a press conference and invited only two media outlets, neither of which included the local newspaper or the local radio stations. I assume you chose two that won't ask many questions so that you only had to tell your side of the story. That's certainly your prerogative. It's not the first time a politician tried to show their story in a favorable light. I also saw that you said you wanted to get all the facts out there so everyone would know. Thing is, by ignoring the local newspaper and the local radio stations, you didn't come close to everyone. In fact, you missed an awful lot of eyes and ears.
The problem you have, sir, is that you keep barking up the wrong tree. What was it, a year or two ago when you suddenly threw more than $400,000 into the budget to support MCED? You were angry about questions raised (some by this very newspaper) by a lot of people. There were questions about the performance of MCED as well as what taxpayers were getting for their dollars. Rather than answer those you chose to get angry and flex your political muscle.
It didn't matter because the county council had to tell you that your plan wasn't going to fly. They did it politely, but the end result was they didn't allow you to spend taxpayer money at that rate.
This beautification plan with the courthouse isn't much different. You want to spend a lot of money on making it look nicer. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn't. But when various people (including this newspaper) began asking questions and raising objections, you got mad.
The most frustrating part of this isn't that we have a politician in the top county government seat who's acting like he's not accountable. No sir. The most frustrating part is that you are endangering the real issue that has been being worked on for almost two years, courthouse security.
I imagine you'll disagree with this, but facts are facts.
Way back in February of this year you and Commissioner Jim Fulwider voted to move forward with the company DLZ to redesign the courthouse parking lot. Commissioner Terry Hockersmith voted against it and said: "I don't see a need to redesign our parking lot. I know we have some security issues that need to be addressed. I think that can be addressed without redoing the whole parking lot."
You see, some people don't agree that the courthouse parking lot is as big a deal as you do. Some people think that there could be more important uses for taxpayer (i.e., that means ours and not exclusively yours) money. Some people (like one of our very own readers, the same ones that you have chosen to ignore a couple of times) say that if you want it to look better, start with the nearby mural.
Ultimately, you have turned this into a fight that has completely overshadowed the important issue of courthouse security. You have talked about another outlandish sum of money (around $800,000) and created an uproar that threatens it all. (What is it with you and huge numbers on controversial projects?) In the meantime, you have allowed security to become lost in bureaucratic bull . . . puckey.
The courthouse is a building full of emotions. Marriages are dissolved there. People go bankrupt there. Heated, passionate, arguments take place there. People lose their freedom there. In today's world - a world with names like Columbine, Newtown, Fort Hood and others - things happen. We hope, we pray that they never happen here. But it's no longer prudent to assume they won't. That's why, for 18 months or so, meetings have been going on - meetings that you have been part of - so that the very real security issues in a very emotional building can be addressed.
Did you see that as an opportunity to dress up the parking lot? To make a statement? Leave a legacy?
I don't know what your intentions are because you've apparently decided to ignore several thousand readers and listeners (who also pay taxes and vote) because you don't like - in your words - being microanalyzed. Well, sir, all you've managed to do is take the spotlight off a real and important issue.
Commissioner Bane, no one is asking unfair questions. You are an elected official, chosen to do the peoples' business in a fair and upright manner. Start acting like it.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.