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County 'shenanigans' appear misleading

I don't know about you, but a code of ethics and conduct plan for St. Louis County commissioners seems a bit of a stretch to me. There is so much to do and so little time to do it at the county level of government ... and now valuable time to cre...

I don't know about you, but a code of ethics and conduct plan for St. Louis County commissioners seems a bit of a stretch to me. There is so much to do and so little time to do it at the county level of government ... and now valuable time to create a code of ethics and conduct plan for a bunch of grownups? It seems like a junior high school era exertion to me.

If, in fact, there is currently such a code of ethics for county employees already in effect, why not simply amend the existing code to include county elected and appointed officials as well?

Such an adjustment wouldn't take up much time. Once in place, any condemning accusations would require prudence and due process before glaring headlines -- without convincing evidence -- cast a doubtful eye on the accused without recourse. What ever happened to the notion that individuals are innocent until proven guilty?

Personal lives and careers are at stake here. I want to make one thing clear: I am not defending anyone. I simply believe a built-in prejudice has taken over logic in this situation. I am just speculating, but I suspect there is an underlying motivation to all this, but, without specifics, that's as far as I want to go at this writing.

My real interest is the ongoing challenges facing our citizens and with an archaic county government in control, real leadership seems to be put on hold.

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The problem is no one seems to be anxious to take on the challenge and willing to consider possible changes that would provide more user-friendly services to St. Louis County residents.

Before I continue here, a question: Do area high school, college and university political science instructors address local forms of government and how they relate to society as we know it today? I was just wondering.

The fact is, St. Louis County is the largest (in area) county government entity in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

Because of this stretch, there are courthouses in Duluth (the county seat), Virginia, Hibbing and a government service center in Ely. These facilities are staffed with employees that are loyal, in most part, to the immediacy of their jobs.

This is certainly understandable. But such loyalties often lean toward self-interests, especially when county commissioners bicker about who is doing what to whom, a continuous clash of personalities that has perpetuated discourse for ages on end. No it isn't new, it is routine and relief is not in sight and the dog and pony show continues unabated.

The question on the table remains, do we really need seven full-time county commissioners and personal staffs to work with a full-time administrator and his or her staff when most representative government entities, including state government, utilizes part-time legislative oversight with enough clout to provide adequate checks and balances? Part-time commissioners operate most of Minnesota's 87 county boards -- but not here in St. Louis County.

The rivalry and personal pique has really been a deterrent to progressive government now for too long, and it's going to take more than administrative leadership to turn some heads. The county administrator and staff are at the mercy of the county board, so don't expect any leadership for change coming from that direction. It is going to take a leadership campaign from a group of citizens to get the ball rolling.

What is surprising is that, at present, although county commissioners are full-time employees of the county, they are not considered county employees. Strange, wouldn't you think? Let's not go there this time around.

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I wonder, just what is the role of the newly formed group calling themselves "We are Watching"? Are they looking for alleged dirt or could their mission expand to a serious study of county government pursuing recommendations for public consideration? Is this a legitimate question?

On the lighter side

Lena was somewhat put out with Ole last Christmas. She had hinted she could use a potholder as a gift, so what did Ole buy her?

A girdle.

--Red Stangland's Ole and Lena

Dick Palmer is a former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by e-mail at rpalmer341@aol.com .

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