Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Does the ends justify the means?

The Toledo Free Press has a front-page article highlighting some of the communication problems on the 8th Floor of government center (Commission: Impossible - see TFP link). Interestingly, it includes the following:

Though discussing the ADAS and Mental Health merger in the commission before June 30 would have been illegal, Gerken and Wozniak insisted any oversight of the law was done unintentionally. They said such an arrangement, once completed, would better serve taxpayers, the organizations and their clients.

"At this point, it is a formality to pass a resolution," Wozniak said. "The work that the two groups have done has been going on, at length, for a period of time."

Gerken partly attributed the mistake in timing to the fact the legislation allowing a merger to occur was part of a large package that was passed en masse by the state House.

"If there's a ‘gotcha' in this, that's unfortunate, because at the end of the day we did our homework," Gerken said. "We're prepared and we're ready to move forward."

Let's see...first contention is that oversight of the law was "unintentional." I guess I'm wondering why no one (except me) bothered to do their due diligence ahead of time so that there was no oversight - unintentionally or not. But, should we, as elected officials, be excused from compliance simply because we didn't "intentionally" do something that was incorrect?

The second contention is that passing a resolution is a "formality." As the ADAS and Mental Health Boards have made the recommendation to merge, it really shouldn't matter to the public that the decision of the commissioners is just a "formality." I guess that any opinions from the public are unnecessary and, perhaps, unwanted.

Personally, the message I get from that statement is that any questions to the two boards regarding their merger report would be unwelcome (by the commissioners - not the members of the two boards) since the decision to merge these two entities has already been made and (sarcasm alert) we certainly wouldn't want to ask any questions that may challenge such a pre-determined outcome. Or perhaps we should ask such questions, but we should do so now - privately - and not wait for a public meeting...

The third contention is that "at the end of the day we did our homework." Somehow I thought that knowing and following the legal process was part of "doing our homework," but perhaps I missed a change in the definition along the way.

What these contentions boil down to is this: the perspective that the ends justifies the means. "We're doing something good - so don't worry about HOW we do it - just be grateful that we're doing anything at all...and don't hold us accountable for following the rules - just be glad with the outcomes." And this "logic" has been used more than once to excuse actions that have the potential to get the BCC into trouble.

I was always taught that if something is worth doing - it's worth doing right, and that you don't sacrifice legality for expediency.

Is this a perspective that is needed on the BCC? As this is an election year, you get to decide the answer to that question.


Lisa Renee said...

I was always taught that if something is worth doing - it's worth doing right...

I was raised the same way. I also happened to catch you on Eye on Toledo if you needed proof of communication issues, that would be the most recent one.

Maggie Thurber said...

Lisa - that you were raised this way clearly shows in how you do your blog and your coverage of events.

As for Eye on Toledo, I think Kevin did a nice job highlighting the problem.

Considering the phone calls I've had on this, I think it reflects more negatively on 2 commissioners than it does on the arena project itself. Most of the people who got the letter and called me think that the omission of my signature was intentional.

Only time will tell if Mr. Chema's explanation is accepted.

And while Mr. Chema has not yet called me, he said it was his understanding that my collegues had talked with me about this letter. Unfortunately, he was wrong on that, as well.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I was also taught that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

I wonder that concept went out of fashion?

Apparently sometime after you and I finished our schooling and your BCC "cohorts" did...

Stick to your guns, Maggie!

Lisa Renee said...

Hopefully tomorrow you can discover how far they are along in the development of the survey questions. I agree with what you stated to Kevin, if there is not input as to the questions how can you be certain the information necessary is being asked.

If a survey is not going to be done right then it would have to be done again, which not only takes more time but more money. I also agree the impression that is being given is that the arena is going to be built. That is not what was on the agenda I saw from March from the Lucas County Commissioners.

The downside to Kevin's show is there is no podcast nor a written transcript, it seems he's the first one to talk about this in the media unless I missed something. I also have to wonder how they could have possibly missed getting your electronic signature given they did have the other two. It's not logical unless the person who created the document doesn't realize there are three Lucas County Commissioners which would be pretty odd.

I just happened to catch it by luck as we were heading to the grocery store, heard what Kevin was talking about, heard you were going to be on so Miguel and I waited in the car to hear your thoughts on this. I'm glad I did and I have to give you kudos for being so professional about it.


Maggie Thurber said...

thanks, Lisa, for the kudos...and for caring enough to listen when I'm sure your really wanted to shop for groceries!

Yes, Kevin did break the story - guess a lot of people got the letter. I also had an email this morning from Mike Miller at the Toledo Free Press asking me about it - he'd gotten one, too.

Lisa Renee said...

Maggie, well at least you know that I rank you way above groceries.


Hopefully the Free Press will pick up on this as well. While I don't think it spells doom for the project I also don't believe it should be swept under the public radar either. The way this was done raises some questions that should be answered.

BrianInVero said...


I'm rather relieved to hear the true reasons why you've chose the decision you've made.

Your having what I consider the "normal range of perception", it truly baffles me why you'd be ostrasized since Commissioner Gerkin was elected, but I will refrain from excersizing my creative juices about egos and agendas.

Thank you for your service, and I pray for the sake of Lucas County, whoever is elected to your chair will muster the logic and common sense that you've displayed and show the Board that you're not the only one that "get's it".

(Disclaimer: I am sooooooo not a Republican. Sorry. :} )

Kurt said...

Maybe I'm missing something here, and please correct me if I'm wrong. There are three commissioners right? Don't all three have the ability to put something on the agenda? I would think Maggie, that even as the minority, you could have brought this to the attention of the other commissioners if you felt so strongly about your position. Obviously, you do feel strongly about your position because you've blogged two articles about it. I'm not saying any of this is your fault because I seriously think I'm missing something here, but if I'm not missing something here, then I would think that it is improper on your part to blame the two other commissioners. I've been really busy lately so I'm not sure what's really going on with this, so I'm looking for the missing link, so to speak.

Bryan said...

Maggie, in the context of the TFP article, I think I better understand where you were coming from. (I'm Erie Voices on Toledo Talk.)

May I inquire on future plans? I think you're a great story and would like to keep track of it. Just make sure you keep bloggin'!

Maggie Thurber said...

Avitar(Erie)-I don't yet have any plans for after I leave office, other than to rest for a while and try to stop thinking in a "siege mentality." I do plan to keep blogging, though!

Kurt - yes, all three commissioners can request that something go on the agenda. Two can decide they don't want something to be on the agenda even if one wants it. This rarely happens, though, as the history has been to allow it on the agenda and then just vote it down if you don't support it.

However, I'm not clear on what you think I should put on the agenda.

In this instance of the ADAS/MH merger, I DID bring up my concerns about the legality of the timing which is why the special meeting was cancelled.

The point of my blogs (and you'll have to let me know if it wasn't clear) is that I shouldn't have to be the one doing something so routine as to check the law to see if what we're doing is legal. Everyone knew the legislature had just passed the law - why, before sending out notices of special meetings, didn't the commissioner who called the special meeting and/or the staff do their homework on this?

Before I'd request a special meeting, I'd be darn sure I had everything right...

Maggie Thurber said...

thanks, Brian!

fearlessadvocate said...

I read the whole article and cannot remember anything but the comment by Commissioner Gerken that the BCC was "apolitical". I was stunned because every day of the week he will tell you that he is "upfront and blunt". I had a modicum of respect for him on that premise. It will be that much harder to be civil when necessary.

Kate said...

Maggie - you go girl. I'm going to be discussing this in my ward come election time if they ever run for anything again.

Keep writing.

Kate said...

any oversight was unintentional. I'll try this logic at work and see how well it flies.

Can't you imagine? Well, boss, I just didn't know.

It's your job to know - that's why we pay you.

How far would I get if I was grossly uninformed regarding information necessary to do my job?

This makes the trend of shooting Maggie for asking the questions to get the information more insulting.

:-) I feel better. But Maggie - you deserve a break from this. So do we - campaigning for new Commissioners next go around.

Don't care what party they belong to - they only need two things. A plan and a proven track record of doing what they say they will do.

Everybody else might as well stay home ...

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