HARBESON: Why the silence on Wilder?
By DEBBIE HARBESON Local Columnist
> SOUTHERN INDIANA — What’s wrong with Jeffersonville government officials? Oh, wait, I guess that’s a mind-boggling question with loads of answers, so let me pare it down a bit.
Why is no one in Jeffersonville government calling for Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Wilder’s immediate resignation? Are they afraid of taking a clear stand for some reason? Are they all just waiting for someone else to go first? Are they just protecting their own?
Of course it’s positively shameful that Ms. Wilder, who has finally been charged in relation to allegedly using city credit cards for personal transactions, has not already resigned. But from all we’ve seen from her since this first came out, that’s no real surprise.
Which means someone else in Jeffersonville’s government needs to step up. Why isn’t that happening?
Maybe it’s because she’s charged with conversion, which is exerting unauthorized use or control of someone else’s property. That definition does sound darn close to describing what they all do as government employees, so it could be kind of embarrassing to call for her resignation, I suppose.
Or maybe it has something to do with all the strange connections inside local government. For example, when the details of this case were sent to Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart, some wondered how he would proceed since Ms. Wilder is the ex-wife of Larry Wilder, who works as a litigator for the city and gave $1,000 to Stewart’s 2005 campaign while they were married.
Stewart took about six months to think this over — while the statute of limitations kept ticking — and finally figured out he should hand the case to someone more neutral, less connected. You know, like a prosecutor in a neighboring county who worked for Stewart a few years ago.
Mayor Tom Galligan and the city council say they have no authority to do anything about her position since she’s an elected official. What a convenient excuse to avoid taking a stand.
They pretend that they’re helpless because they can’t take any “authorized” action and voters will just have to wait until her term ends at the end of 2011. But this is one instance where they could actually use their positions to help their constituents without using the government gun. I guess that’s hard for them to comprehend, though, since they never work that way otherwise. Could that be why we are not seeing them speak out?
They have no problem speaking out and taking a stand about how tall your grass is, or how many used car businesses can be on 10th street, or whether you can allow smoking in your privately owned businesses, or store a gun in your car while at work, or whether other city employees get drug tested, etc. But when the city’s financial department head is shown to be inept and unethical in handling finances, well that’s just personal and they’re staying out of it.
We all know they could put on the heat and get her out of there if they really wanted to do so.
Now, to be fair, city residents could also be speaking out. They could write to the newspaper, mail flyers and stage protests near her office to call for her resignation. That takes time they don’t have, though, because they are working to pay for fancy canal projects and shiny new sidewalk benches.
Besides, shouldn’t citizens expect that those who claim they only want to “serve the people” actually do some serving and speak up when it really matters?
I guess someone has to get this going so let me say very clearly: Peggy Wilder should resign. Now, come on mayor and council, stop spending money for a minute and speak out on this.
Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson is trying to stop asking mind-boggling questions about government officials but they just seem to keep coming.