Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Clark County Commissioner John Perkins' Political Posturing

HARBESON: The trite thing to do

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Up to now, I have not used this space to comment about the tornado that hit the area, mostly because I knew that much of what I could say would probably sound trite. Plus, the message I proclaim here often — that the real power in a society is through individual action and voluntary association — has been communicated so beautifully and clearly by the community itself, there was nothing more to say.

But then Clark County Commissioner John Perkins opened his mouth.

At the March 13 commissioners meeting, Perkins read a statement that, in part, was nothing but political trash, attacking the motives and actions of other individuals.

The statement doesn’t start out that way. The first paragraph isn’t so bad. Sure, it’s full of blatant political pandering, as Perkins pontificates on how proud he and the other two commissioners are of the efforts of “numerous organizations and individuals who have stepped forward to assist in the tornado relief effort.”

That sounds OK, although I’m not sure anyone who helped the victims really cares what John Perkins thinks of their efforts. Those who acted in various ways did so because they saw people (and animals) who needed help. I doubt anyone was looking for a pat on the head by a politician.

But still, if Perkins would have stopped there, it might have been a nice gesture to everyone who played any part in helping, whether in person or by donations. The first paragraph is no more or less trite than what a newspaper columnist might say.

The problem is he didn’t stop there. Perkins managed to use this disaster to create a rift between the commissioners and individuals inside another government entity, the county council.

Reading the statement, it seems important for Perkins to let everyone know how hard he’s been working because he talks about the number of meetings and briefings he’s attended. Then he complains that he has “not received one phone call from any Clark County councilperson asking what they may do to help during this emergency.”

I’m not quite clear why he thinks the individuals on the council were supposed to call him. I’m sure the councilpersons are just as able as any other caring individual living in the county, and had no problem finding appropriate ways to take action and help those in need. Why would they need to call and get permission from King, I mean, Commissioner Perkins?

Perkins is also upset that the council is attempting to move forward carefully, making sure they collect all the necessary information and official advice on any possible ramifications before they make any decision in funding the cleanup.

In other words, Commissioner Perkins disagrees with the council about how best to spend taxpayer funds. He thinks the council is not working on this issue the “right” way, which is the way he wants to do it. This of course is a constant problem when spending other people’s money that’s been collected by force rather than by donations.

Now, to be fair, we all know that petty jealousies and political one-ups-man-ship can also arise within voluntary organizations. But if this happens, and you determine that you want no further involvement, you are free to simply roll your eyes at the immaturity and take your money and your time elsewhere. You can end any relationship to that organization and they will respect your individual freedom to do so and leave you alone.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of Perkins’ behavior in starting this ruckus is that he has broken one of the main goals he claims he wanted to achieve as part of holding this political office — “encouraging a more open and cordial dialogue between county officials.”

One has to wonder — did he really mean it when he announced that goal? Or was it just the typical trite tripe that seems to be the first language of longtime politicians?

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson thinks government is trite and is looking for fresh and creative alternatives.

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