By Wayne William Cipriano
After you have lived somewhere for a while, you become a native even if you were not born there. It becomes your hometown and you identify with it. Your ears perk up when you are out of town and someone mentions where you are from. That happened to me driving to Springfield last week. I was half-listening to the radio the way you do and I heard “…Douglas County.”
Unfortunately, that was the end of the story and I missed any further radio news being in and out of the car as we shopped. I did catch the story on the late news that night. And the radio the next morning. And, in the Douglas County Herald on Thursday.
Douglas County got a rating of “poor” from the Missouri State Auditors office for the way we conduct county business, and according to the stories I saw, heard, and read, the same problems at the same offices that garnered the unacceptable ratings this time were responsible for “poor” evaluations last time. In other words, deficiencies were noted before, ignored, and continued audit after audit.
I don’t know everything about his audit, but I know a little about these audits in general. For several years, our daughter Reneé worked for State Auditor Claire McCaskill as a traveling auditor and acquainted us with their methods and degree of specificity.
I cannot accurately relate all the problems and the offices involved. But they are included in the full report (see the Http address at the end of the front page article in the Douglas County Herald, 24 March 2016).
I suspect some of the offices cited as substandard would complain these are “Mickey Mouse” details, tiny little unimportant problems, strictly miniscule snags that overall do not amount to anything coming close to significance. Well, the reason we have auditors is to be sure governmental offices are run according to the rules. The “big” “important” rules and the “tiny” “inconsequential” rules. The rules.
Consider all the county offices that were not negatively mentioned in the audit that are doing their jobs correctly. Only a very few offices were considered “poor.” There are many county offices that are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, not requiring correction by an out-of-town examiner. These properly run offices are being belittled working in the same county, sometimes in the same building as offices habitually unable to operate proficiently.
A few dollars short, a few pages missing, several days late, what is the big deal, anyway? The offices are running pretty well –– chill out, don’t get yourselves in a knot, right? Well, no, not right.
These are all elected offices. People run for them, charm voters, make promises, take oaths, and collect salaries. Running the offices according to the rules laid down by the Missouri legislature is the big deal.
If you do not want to observe the requirements of the office to which you were elected, if you feel these requirements are silly, outdated, unimportant, or below your status as a celebrity, then resign. Believe me there will be no vacuum unfilled by your absence. There will be many applicants to fill the vacancy and, hopefully, run the office according to the rules you understood to be in effect when you campaigned for the job.
Stop embarrassing those of us who live here, take pleasure in being identified as Douglas County residents who voted you into office, and incidentally, pay your salaries. If you cannot or will not straighten out whatever deficiencies noted by the State Auditors before they return to check up on you, quit now and give someone else a chance to fix those problems.
I bet they will.