Mad at Al
Lou Antonelli, Tribune Managing Editor
I'm not sure I totally agree with the decision of the county commissioners not to hire some kind of engineer or supervisor to double-check the work that is being done to fix the Union Pacific railroad bridge problem.
On the other hand, I'm not sure the reasons to hire someone to conduct the oversight are all that clear.
Let's face it, the only reason the loop is being built right now at all is that the bond vote was taken in 2006, before the Recession kicked in. If the vote was held a year or two later, I'm sure it wouldn't have passed.
Since the Recession kicked in, people have become more paranoid than ever about their finances, and taxes – which are mandatory to pay. Quite frankly, many people probably wish the loop didn't move forward, and the county didn't incur the debt, because they are worried that they can pay their tax bill in the future.
So since the project started, many people wish it hadn't, and they've been looking for a way to stifle it.
This also ties into a general district of government in general, and how it gets loose from the people, and dissatisfaction with the lackadaisical attitude of the old boys in the courthouse.
There have been improvements in attitudes at the courthouse since the loop project started. When Brian Lee was elected county judge on the Republican line, it busted the myth that only Democrats could get elected.
The two-party system could be used to keep office holders in line and oust incumbents who are just taking up space and otherwise acting like they work for AT&T – just talking to their friends and family.
That's a great for a cell phone service, but doesn't work for people who are supposed to be serving the general public.
When Al Riddle was elected in 2012, we got someone with more of the perspective of an outsider who doesn't always take "But we've always done it that way!" as an excuse, and that's been refreshing.
Sometimes Al swings and misses, and sometimes he hits one over the fence. The idea of having meetings half the time in the evening was brilliant.
But Monday he struck out with the idea of hiring an independent engineer. He didn't get any backing from his fellow commissioners.
Make no mistake, there's a lot of people out there who don't trust Pate – didn't trust them in the beginning and really don't trust them now. But the question is left hanging on whether that's the majority opinion.
The majority of commissioners seems to feel if the county is paying Pate, it's Pate's responsibility to fix the problem. I hope it's a good sign that they also agreed to put Allison, Bass & McGee on retainer.
When the final bill comes in for the bridge fix, I hope the county gets reimbursed as much as possible, from whatever source. If it involves suing Pate, so be it. I own a house here in Mount Pleasant, too, and I don't like to pay my taxes like I'm throwing money off the back of a moving train.
One thing struck me as strange at the meeting, and it's that Judge Lee seemed irate at Al's doggedness. At one point he leaned back (because Mike Fields sits between the two) and gave Al a look.
He then made a motion NOT to hire the engineer. Which actually isn't a legal motion.
You see, action items are just that – motions to take action. If a governmental body doesn't want to do something, you vote an item down or don't take action.
According to Roberts Rules of Order, you don't vote for negative actions. You don't vote not to do something; you just don't do it.
What happens if a vote NOT to take an action fails? Is the action then approved?
The fact the other four commissioners voted for a negative motion just shows they were getting peeved by Al. Too bad. He won his election fair and square, and a lot of people agree with him. Even when he isn't hitting home runs, at least he's in there swinging.
I hope when the time comes to take action to recoup the money, the majority of commissioners will be level-headed and not do something stupid because they're in a bad mood or mad at Al.