County accountability

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Years from now, when the current Cape Girardeau County commissioners are no longer around, there will be no official record -- just newspaper stories -- that a plan to follow simple meeting procedures designed to provide accountability for the commission was ever discussed, much less turned down by two of the county's three commissioners.

That's not because Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones didn't make a good and earnest effort. He did. He offered guidelines that would have followed the basic procedures used by most cities, school boards and county commissions across Missouri.

Currently, the commission holds informal sessions. In some cases, votes aren't taken or aren't recorded. In other instances, items that aren't on the agenda are quickly decided without giving the public any notice.

That's OK with Joe Gambill and Larry Bock, the other commissioners. They voiced their strong opposition to the plan offered by Jones. But they didn't vote.

The commission gets caught in a bind from time to time because of its haphazard procedures. For example, commissioners were unable to document any official action when one of its purchasing decisions was challenged recently.

It doesn't have to be this way. Jones offered a sensible and rational plan that imposed no undue hardship on the commission. Let's hope current or future commissioners will see the wisdom of specific agendas and good record-keeping.

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