Friday, April 20, 2018

Commissioners “put their thumbs on the scale”

Stillwater County Commissioners put their thumbs on the scale when weighing courthouse options
At several public hearings no one spoke “on record” supporting remodel of the old hospital into county offices. When deliberating options, all three Stillwater County Commissioners gave more weight to citizens who spoke “off the record,” than to citizens who testified “on the record.”
I know no citizens in this county who are reticent regarding expressing their opinions publicly on matters of community interest, so I doubt that the commissioners were contacted by any, and if any, not more than one or two citizens, who, after numerous opportunities to express their opinion in public, chose to “hide in the bushes and off the record.”
For good reasons the Stillwater County News does not publish unsigned letters. We are all accountable for what we say, and “ambush speech from the behind the bushes of anonymity” is not appropriate and is not published.
Likewise the commissioners need to either publish the names of the citizens who support the remodel option or back up, revisit the options, and give them no weight.
If no names are put forward, readers can conclude that the commissioner statements citing private contacts from citizens were simply self serving not truthful words as they put three thumbs on the scale when weighing Courthouse options.
I toured the old hospital at the same time as the public hearings, and agree with knowledgeable local contractors and other very aware citizens that sale or demolition of the 50-plus year old hospital is warranted.
Remodel issues: asbestos, mold, age, replacing the roof, replacing heating and cooling systems, replacing electrical systems, replacing plumbing systems, replacing windows, have the potential to turn the project into a bottomless money pit.
Funds on hand would be better spent toward new construction on the hospital site or at another site. New construction could be staged on a pay as you go basis without bonding, an option not yet explored.

Jim Movius
Columbus