Meadville Tribune

Opinion

June 6, 2014

Lack of respect to local government employees is appalling

Editor’s note: The following is text of a statement read by Crawford County Prothonotary Emmy Arnett at Thursday’s meeting of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Many people have watched the Crawford County Board of Commissioners meeting on Armstrong and on the county website and have heard the opinions and comments spoken by the public attendees during these meetings. Many letters to the editors have been written by county residents expressing their opinions both in favor and against the commissioners and county employees. I applaud the commissioners’ attempt to allow public comment during their meetings as well as their efforts to maintain order through the passing of the Public Participation Policy. All of this supports the idea of government for the people by the people. However, I want to bring forward a voice that isn’t heard during these meetings; the voice of the employee that diligently works hard to better our county and the governmental process.

Every Tuesday and every other Thursday, county employees and elected officials bring before the commissioners, in the public meeting forum, items that need formal action. These items are not brought in before regulations are checked, outcomes are anticipated, solutions are suggested and cost savings are investigated. Sometimes many hours are spent gathering this information by the employee or the elected official before the final solution is reviewed and approved at a work session and commissioner meeting. This may be the first time the public is hearing about the issues and solutions, but they have been discussed and researched at length beforehand.

I feel our employees and elected officials are dedicated individuals working to better our county. Employees are not becoming rich doing what they do; however, I feel they believe in the services they are providing our community through the work that they are doing! When the same members of the public come to the monthly meetings to question and badger county employees and elected officials, I have to question their motives. Is it because of personal financial gain or loss? Is it because of a personal vendetta against the system? Is it because they are using the few minutes on camera to feed their own ego?

One thing I can definitely say and I truly believe is their motive is not for the good of the public. If they were truly looking out for the public, they wouldn’t continue to come before the county commissioners who they know do not have the authority vested by state or federal law to deal with the issues they keep bringing before the board time and time again! These certain individuals continue to come to these meetings and badger department heads, employees and elected officials and wasting valuable time when all we want to do is discuss, review and finalize approval of the work in hand!

If anyone truly cares and wants to learn about the work being done on specific projects or programs throughout the county, I would suggest they call or make an appointment with the department head or elected official in charge. These individuals should take the time to learn and understand the process before coming and making accusations on subjects of which they have no knowledge. When these certain members of the public come to the meetings claiming they are here to watch the circus act, they should be ashamed of themselves as they are the ones turning the public process into a circus and acting like clowns!

The lack of respect given to our employees who work day in and day out to try to better our community is a disgrace. Commissioners, I’m asking that you take the bull by the horns and maintain order in these meetings and stop the assault being waged against our employees and elected officials who are being accused of abuse and conspiracy. These same individuals continue to make a mockery of our governmental proceedings, and I’m confident if they acted this way in any other public forum they would be told to leave!

The freedoms of our country come with responsibilities and those who exercise their freedom of speech at the commissioners meetings or in the media should take the responsibility to ensure they are not guilty of slander or baring false witness themselves!

Arnett is the elected prothonotary of Crawford County.

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