Monday, December 29, 2008

Slow Time

My apologies for having failed to post anything over the past three weeks. Like many folks, I've been caught up with the holidays, visiting family out of town and having family visit here, as well as the general end-of-year rush.

The upcoming year promises many challenges: a sluggish economy, budget deficits, job layoffs and other difficulties that we will likely all face. But I also believe that with great challenges come great opportunities.

During difficult economic times we have opportunities for continuing education, career re-training that leads to career changes, government working to minimize waste and maximize the utility of hard-earned taxpayer money, among others. Times are no doubt tough, but if we work together and weather this recession we can all come out better on the other side, with greater opportunity for everyone.

These are just a few thoughts...

The real purpose of this post is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever holiday one observes. Have a safe and happy new year.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Holding Public Servants Accountable

This week, it was determined that enough evidence existed supporting improper procurement procedures and forgery of quotes from vendors to suspend two employees from The Greater Roanoke Transit Company. The wife of one of the employees has been implicated and warrants have been issued for a search of GRTC offices and the home of one of the employees.

It must be noted that no one has been convicted of any crimes, so the presumption of innocence must be afforded to those involved. Regardless of criminal convictions, however, it is clear that an improper procurement process occurred and that employees of GRTC were irresponsible and showed extraordinarily poor judgement at a minimum.

Beyond the potential illegalities and misuse of public money, this incident brings to the forefront an even more important, yet often unstated, belief that I share with so many others. We often hear that "public officials/public employees should be held to the same standards as everyone else."

I disagree with this statement. I believe that public officials and those who work in government should be held to higher standards than everyone else. For public officials, elected by citizens, we have chosen to put our names forward for office. We understand when we do this that the public eye, and the many probing eyes of the media that hold us accountable, are on us as we do our jobs. And for those that have chosen to work in government, and who are in particularly responsible roles in charge of the expenditure of public, taxpayer money, responsibility for only the highest ethical standards should be a job requirement.

The public has the right, in my opinion, to demand that those of us charged with making the decisions as to how to spend their money, elected or otherwise, be held to the highest possible standards. There is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what the residents of Roanoke expect, and I couldn't agree more.