Monday, August 29, 2005

Gag Me

I've spent the day thinking of a rationale for not blogging the civil war between Summit County Council and County Executive James McCarthy. I dowanna. For reasons I will discuss anon. For the uninitiated, you can read the sorry tale here.

What we get from the BJ report is that McCarthy accused County Council of harassing his employees, so he imposed a gag rule on each of them. Now all Council information requests go through one person. Council has responded by threatening to hold up legislation important to McCarthy and McCarthy has fired back that the information requests are all about Council members steering contracts.

So why do I need my eleven-foot pole for this story?

For starters, this is largely about Democrats vs. Democrats. I have no problem calling out a D when he's acting a ass. But it distresses me nonetheless.

More to the point, I know and like a number of the individuals cited in the story; Clair Dickenson and Pete Crossland on the Council side, Yamini Adkins on the Executive side. I don't know McCarthy, but my impression has been generally favorable.

But mostly the problem is that the limited information that makes the papers is all over the place. Accusations; counter charges; no, that's lie; no, that's a lie. It's hard to write about this and feel 1) I'm bringing something new to the party and 2) it's coming from somewhere other than my butt.

So, I would rather pass. But I took up the challenge of blogging Akron so blog Akron I must. A few observations.

Nobody, least of all the citizens of Summit County, is served by the current state of affairs. On one hand, the policy creating a single portal for information emanating from the Executive seems untenable. An information request (what non-government types call a "question") generally leads to a follow up question, which leads to another, etc. The single portal policy seems doomed to bog down the legislative process. It also feels like we are on the road to the familiar sitcom situation where two characters are "not speaking" by sending messages via an intermediary. The County doesn't need the equivalent of Lucy upbraiding Ricky through Ethel.

On the other hand, holding up legislation just because is no solution. If Council genuinely needs information that is tied up in channels, that's one thing. But to hold up the people's business for the sake of a "whose is bigger" contest is unacceptable. The parties involved have a duty to the people they serve. They cannot simultaneously fulfill that duty and butt heads like Bighorn Sheep trying to impress a ewe in heat.

So for anyone involved in this sad tale who happens to find my blog, let me conclude with the one suggested solution I can bring, based on the experience provided by my day job.


Hope it works better for them than it does for my kids.