In his recent letter to the editor, Glenn Sanders expressed his anger over my criticism of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors and their decision to appoint a county administrator. Mr. Sanders made two principal points – a county administrator is better than nothing and citizens (like me) should not criticize out of loyalty to elected officials who have done some good things.
Mr. Sanders is off base on both counts. A county administrator is not even close to a County Executive. A county administrator is employed by, and beholden, to the very Board of Supervisors who have been so ineffective in managing contracts, addressing poor performance and questionable conduct by department heads and mired in childish and unproductive political wrangling. To suggest that appointing an administrator with little power and no real autonomy will somehow magically restore good governance to a dysfunctional board is an expression of naive wishful thinking.
Mr. Sanders says we should be grateful that the Board passed something. Something is not the same as something meaningful. Mr. Sanders seems upset that I would be critical of the Boards actions because they have taken positive action on some issues in the past. Mr. Sanders mistakes political loyalty for good citizenship. It is not a citizen’s responsibility to remain silent when public officials make poor judgments out of loyalty to those officials; rather it is the officials’ responsibility to be loyal to needs and concerns of the citizens they represent. In the case of Schoharie County, the citizens want the Board of Supervisors to take decisive action to fix the mess they have created. They have not done that and having done some good things in the past (something I have publically acknowledged, despite Mr. Sanders insistence to the contrary) is not like getting your “sandwich club” card punched at the deli. There are no free sandwiches.
Mr. Sanders insists my criticism was an “insult” and accuses me of stabbing my “supposed ally” in the back. I can only assume that Mr. Sanders is speaking as a surrogate from one politician or another who was offended by my comments but unwilling to speak for themselves. I remind Mr. Sanders that public service is not a little league game in which the young players need to be comforted when they strike out. Those serving on the Board of Supervisors are grown men and women receiving a salary from the taxpayers of Schoharie County. They are responsible for a multi-million dollar budget and the well-being of thousands of county residents. When those supervisors swing and miss like they so clearly did by appointing a puppet administrator, they need to step back up to the plate and take a better swing. To quote Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own “there is no crying in baseball.” There is also no crying in public service. The Board of Supervisors needs to do a better job and have a thicker skin in the process. Mr. Sanders should encourage more scrutiny of the Board of Supervisors not less. He should also care less about how the Board feels and more about how they perform.