Discretionary Funds – Still a Good Idea (6/28/11)
I'm all for public officials being responsible with public money. But I also think micro-managing how literally every dollar is spent can create more problems than it solves.
Since Metro Council member Judy Green's misappropriation of funds became public, our local paper seems to have become paranoid about virtually every nickel and dime spent by city officials. And that's regrettable, because I don't believe we should make policy based on the exception to the rule.
Here's the truth: The vast majority of our elected officials sought their jobs for the right reason – to make our community a better place. They give their time and talent to serve us, but we need to meet them halfway by giving them the tools they need to do it.
The discretionary funds allotted to city officials are one of those tools -- relatively small amounts intended to give them a certain amount of flexibility in how they serve their constituents without having to submit every minor decision to a hearing or a vote. That's an efficient arrangement.
When we do find evidence of fraud -- as we did with Judy Green -- then appropriate action should be taken. But we have to give our elected officials the necessary resources to do their job and a certain amount of trust they'll do it properly.
Because automatically assuming everyone's a thief is not only cynical. It's dead wrong.
Call and tell us what you think.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.