September 16th, 2009
I attended the bi-weekly meeting of the Union County Commissioners, at the welcome center in Dakota Dunes last week. For the first time since I can remember, a meeting was held at someplace other than the court house. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went down there but what I saw really gave me some insight on politics at the county level. Since the meeting was being held at the “Dunes”, I half expected to see the commissioners in suits and ties. Naw, they were in their everyday digs. I also figured the room would be full of people from the Dunes asking questions during the public input time before the meeting officially gets started. What I saw was the same thing that happens every other time at the court house. There weren’t any people from the Dunes. Not a single solitary soul. In fact the only people that were there were myself, Julie Madden, from the “Akron Hometowner” and Jim Wenndblom. Maybe they didn’t know there was a meeting going on. If they did, they didn’t seem to care. So why did they hold the meeting down at the dunes? I asked around and found out the reason was that the CID had invited the members down for lunch at the Country Club and a tour of the Dunes. Since the commissioners were invited for a lunch and tour, Ross Jordan who represents that district, moved that the meeting be held there. Part of the reason for having the meeting moved to the dunes was to ensure that they would all be there for lunch and the tour. If the Commissioners were just invited down for a tour after the normal business was conducted at the court house, they might not come.
NOW FOR THE REAL REASON THE MEETING WAS HELD AT THE DUNES - - The Dunes has been lobbying for over a year to have a deputy sheriff assigned 20 hours per week to patrol the Dunes. They offered to buy a car and pay part of the wages ($17,000) for having a deputy sheriff around for security. By the end of the meeting, Mr. Jeff Dooley of the CID upped the ante to $25,000. You see, by law they cannot have a police force until they incorporate as a city and under their current contract with Mid-American they can’t do that for 2 more years. Until that time the county is responsible. That sounds goofy, but that’s the way it is.
Is this how you get things done in Union County? Take the boys out to lunch? If it works and they assign a deputy to the Dunes 20 hours a week, I guess it is.
I’ve only been going to the commissioners meetings for about 3 years, and it never dawned on me to do this. I must have been sleeping through all this. But I’m here to tell you, this ol’ Norwegian has it figured out now. I’m going to take Ole, Lars, and Sven with me next time. We’ll invite them to lunch at the Spink café but to take a detour up the Garryowen road. We will have lunch at the café and pretty soon we’ll get that road paved. Yessir by yimminy, we will get it paved. You can fool a Norwegian once or twice, but pretty soon we catch on. That’s why Tuna comes in the bag now. We figured out how to open the can.
In my estimation, it was a big mistake for the commissioners to do this. This is a no win situation for them. It is a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. If they vote to add a deputy they will be accused of favoritism or being bought. If they don’t, people will think the folks at the Dunes didn’t bid high enough. After all, they raised the bid from $17000 to $25000. One thing that you cannot have is the appearance of impropriety and that your position in government is for sale to the highest bidder. I think the commissioners need to come forward and say they made a mistake. Of course, that is just my opinion.
My feeling is, if the Dunes need to be staffed properly to ensure the safety of their residents, for God’s sake amend the budget, make cuts if you have to and hire some deputies to make the area secure. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. They are entitled to it, it’s the law. Don’t go pussyfooting around under the pretext of lunch and a tour to show the commissioners what is at the Dunes. Oh by the way, we would like a deputy and we’re willing to pay up to $25,000 for one.
If the commissioners can find the money to add a staff position for $24,000 to the County Assessor’s office, they can surely find money to add another deputy to give peace of mind to the 3000 citizens of the Dunes. (I’m a strong advocate for adequate police protection.) I don’t think any town, even Dakota Dunes, should have to beg for police protection.
My next question is - are they adequately covered for fires and emergencies requiring EMT’s? Or better yet, why don’t the citizens of the Dunes create their own volunteer firefighters and EMT volunteers? After all, there are 3000 residents there. I think they’re big enough don’t you? I’m sure there are experienced people that live inside that would be more than happy and qualified to do this. If not, they can be trained. You can only outsource so many jobs. They need to accept some of this responsibility and become accountable for their own protection. The rest of the county does it.