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 Here's to Hoping Two Wrongs Get Righted

When disappointing things happen, sometimes it just matters more than others.

I have a lot of friends who are fairly upset that their beloved Indianapolis Colts football team lost Saturday. I know I am.

But unlike in years past, for me that little glitch in the big picture isn’t going to do anything more than ruin the one day on which it occurred. I guess I’m just getting too old to let petty disappointments get in the way of what is really important.

Saturday night I went to bed, forgot about the football game, and woke up Sunday morning asking myself the same two questions I had been asking over the past few days concerning current issues here in Knightstown. Right now, those two issues are still on my mind and I’m going to confront them, because the disappointments they have brought on aren’t petty.

The first issue and my first question is for the Knightstown town council. The second issue and my second question is for the Charles A. Beard School board.

To the town council, I ask, “What the hell are you doing?”

To the CAB school board, I ask, “What the hell are you doing, too?”

I am disappointed in both of these groups for recent actions they have taken. But I, personally, am double disappointed in both of these groups because I had just openly supported and praised them.

A few weeks ago I wrote an upbeat holiday column that basically reaped praise upon those local governing officials. I’ve been accused of being negative in the past and this year, heading into the holiday season, I turned over a new leaf and went in the opposite direction.

I commended the town council and school board for doing the jobs the people elected them to do.

Within days, both of those governing bodies made me eat my words.

First up is the Knightstown town council.

The council continues to sit on a court order requiring that it pay The Banner’s attorney’s fees. You all know the story. Those attorney’s fees accumulated over a four-year period after the paper filed a lawsuit to learn the terms of a secret settlement between the town and a former employee.

The town lost its appeal and citizens across the state won. The lawsuit forced government to come clean on very important issues involving serious incidents that resulted in lawsuits and secret settlements using your tax dollars. The case went to the appeals court and has had major ramifications in cities and towns throughout Indiana.

More than a year ago the town was bickering with its insurance agency over who had to pay what share of the newspaper’s attorney’s fees.

Today, they have still paid nothing.

I ask, how long will the town of Knightstown allow its electric, water and sewer customers to be delinquent on their bills before taking action to disconnect the service?

This is a time of extreme economic hardship for every business in this community, and my employer is no different.

It absolutely disgusts me that the council members would ignore the debt that a court has ruled they owe, yet require - no demand - that their constituents and customers walk a tight and narrow line and pay their bills in a timely manner.

What a pathetic double standard.

Enter the CAB school board.

Roughly two years ago, you increased an employee’s salary by 40 percent because you said you had increased her work load by a comparable amount. Then last month, you removed that additional work load, but kept the massive salary increase intact.

That’s not responsible government in a time when every dime counts. It's more critical now than it has ever been that every level of government operates as efficiently as possible. That maneuver in no way reflected fiscal responsibility, rather it was the opposite. If that’s the direction the school board is now traveling, we taxpayers are in serious trouble.

Those two scenarios show me the difference in business practices between the town council and the school board. The council is acting like the money is their own personal account, while the school board appears unconcerned about where the money actually comes from.

I believe the CAB school board and Knightstown town council can take a quick lesson from the late Walt Disney. Disney spoke often about the responsibilities of those in a position of leadership, suggesting that they set the example.

Said Disney, “People look at you and me to see what they are supposed to be. And, if we don't disappoint them, maybe, just maybe, they won't disappoint us.”

When I wrote that Christmas edition column praising those groups, I might possibly have had my head at least partially in the sand. While overall I think we are going in the right direction, now I can’t help but wonder how these things can happen when our current leaders are supposed to be so much better than their predecessors.

So yes, I’m disappointed in both the council and school board. And you should be too.

But here’s to hoping that both of those governing bodies right their ships and seize the opportunity to make something good happen out of a couple of bad situations.

Henry Ward Beecher offered up a little hope along that line when he penned, “One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointment.”

I certainly hope so, Henry.


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