Independence Examiner, Thursday 05/02/02


The Examiner

What were they thinking?

Part 1 Bad attitude

It just gets worse and worse.

Citizens again this week were subjected to tortured logic and a bad attitude that were enough to leave one flabbergasted.

Jackson County Counselor Jane McQueeny rejected county legislators' request that she track the hours her office spends on cases. If we did that, she said, it might fall under the state's Sunshine law and the information might become public. Well, heaven forbid that the public's business be made public.

She went on to compare the work of her office with that of private lawyers, who, obviously, aren't subject to that law. That's a rediculous comparison. The attorneys in question work for the public. Their work needs to be open to scrutiny, which is what McQueeny is fighting every step of the way.

What legislators are steamed about and what apparently makes McQueeny so defensive is that the county just lost a Sunshine Law case. She doesn't want to tell legislators how much of the county's money and manpower went into the case, but she has done so in other cases.

As Legislator Terry Young put it to McQueeny, "It seems to me you are afraid of the Sunshine Law, and that is a dangerous precedent to set."

Part 2 No answers

The County Legislature has asked the state auditor's office to step in and get some answers that the county executive's office won't provide.

Legislators this week tried to get Finance Director Troy Thomas to answer some questions, starting with whether there's any merit to the allegations. "I've stated my position ... and I have nothing further to report, period," Thomas said. He walked out of the meeting.

This is outrageous. Our county has a system of checks and balances, or is supposed to, and those include legislators asking questions of the county executive and those who serve under her. This stunt amounts to malfeasance of office.

By the way, guess who gets hurt here? Look at your local school district. It's May, and it's still not clear how much money the state will provide for schools in the next fiscal year, which starts in two months. Then there are these questions about funny numbers from the country, which could affect tax revenues. And school officials are supposed to draw up budgets in the midst of all this? It's nuts.

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