Public office isn’t a private club

There are two displeasing issues involving the Wood County Commission meeting in which commissioners voted to name a new county clerk upon the resignation of Clerk Jamie Six – and both are violations of state code, which isn’t anything new for the county commission.

The first issue involved the commission president attempting to take a secret, written vote on who to name to replace Six.

Commission President Wayne Dunn foolishly stated about having a secret, written ballot, “We thought this was pretty nifty.” Actually it would be “pretty nifty” if Dunn and the other unnamed commissioner involved in the secret ballot plan would just follow state code instead.

State code specifically bars the commission from taking secret, written ballots, which Dunn should know considering the amount of time he’s been on commission and his being the designated president for nearly a year.

Then there’s Dunn’s inadvertent admission that he and another commissioner, presumably Steve Gainer since Commissioner Blair Couch said he was not involved, held a secret meeting to discuss having a secret, written ballot for Six’s replacement.

Such a secret meeting to discuss public business also is a direct violation of state law, which both commissioners should know. They certainly have been told often enough that public business, by law, must be conducted in public.

When it comes to following open meeting law, Gainer and Dunn both are disappointments.

When will they learn? How many more times must they be told the commission is not a private club?

If they wish to meet in secret to conduct business, they need to do so in their private businesses, not in their public office.

It’s gotten to the sad point of not knowing which public body violates open meeting law more often, the Wood County Board of Education or the Wood County Commission.

* * *

Will the Department of Justice file federal charges against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting death, even though an earlier FBI investigation reportedly found no basis for hate crime charges?

A Democrat attorney friend does not believe the president nor the attorney general has the courage to file charges, especially since they are both black and their action could be construed as playing to the community outrage surrounding the acquittal of Zimmerman in the jury trial in Florida.

Of course, my friend also believes neither the president nor the attorney general has the courage of their convictions on anything, let alone the Zimmerman case.

My friend, though, believes a civil case against Zimmerman would lead to his being found negligent in the shooting death because of his disobeying a police order to stay in his car and not follow the person he reported as being suspicious, which was Martin. The attorney contends Zimmerman following Martin after being told not to puts Zimmerman in civil jeopardy.

While I’m not an attorney, logic would side with my Democrat attorney friend.