Elected officials work for us
I don’t live in Harrison County anymore, but I still call it home. I visit family and friends multiple days per week, and I also still read the weekly headlines. Lately, I have become quite dismayed by the way elected officials (some whom I have voted for) seem to be a bit out of touch with the voters who placed them in office. I think they need to be reminded of why they are here.
For instance, the public isn’t getting sufficient answers from the Harrison County Board of Commissioners or Harrison County Council regarding the current situation with Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick. Criminal charges are still pending a grand jury hearing and not all questions can be answered. However, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent, regardless if there is any fault or truth to the lawsuits.
In most realms, any other person would be asked to step down pending the outcome of those charges and that person would have to comply. That hasn’t happened here. Per Indiana statute, county sheriffs can only be removed if they are convicted of a felony while in office; charge and collect illegal fees for services; refuse or neglect their official duties; or are voluntarily or habitually intoxicated while on duty.
I simply cannot fathom this. Public officials should always be able to be held accountable by the public. They are hired, so to speak, by the public and there should be provisions for us to suspend or fire them, if necessary. I think this should go for any elected office, not just the sheriff. The commissioners and council need to work with our state representative and senator to try and change this piece of legislation as it definitely needs to be brought into the 21st century. They need to be proactive to ensure that Harrison County doesn’t have to endure this again. All three commissioners are Democrats, as are five of seven council members and the sheriff. I hope they act on the voters’ behalf and not for their own party here. This can’t be swept under the rug, forgotten, and thousands of dollars cannot just continue to be spent without any action. The council and commissioners need to step up to the plate.
Another public official who needs to step up or step away is Congressman Baron Hill. His egotism displayed at a recent town hall meeting in Bloomington on Sept. 2 has no place in any political office. During this town hall meeting, he told an IU college student that she could not videotape the meeting. When the student questioned his refusal to allow her to tape, his response was, ‘This is my town hall meeting for you. And you’re not going to tell me how to run my congressional office. Now, the reason why I don’t allow filming is because usually the films that are done end up on YouTube in a compromising position.’
While Congressman Hill can say whatever he wants, I think he needs to remember the people for whom he works. The student sitting in the audience was one of those people. I see a lot of me, my and I in his comment and it shouldn’t be that way. That is our congressional office, and we should be able to tell him how to run it. Tax dollars contributed to the cost of those town hall meetings and, therefore, should be videotaped by the public or recorded. Congressman Hill may be filling the office for two years, but he doesn’t own it and needs to remember it.
We cannot just stand idle and watch things happen. More people need to get involved and make sure elected officials do their jobs in the best interest of the public. Attend meetings and make your voice heard; call your congressman, commissioner and councilman; post comments; write letters and constantly remind those in office of why they are here and for whom they work. Because, trust me, it is obvious that sometimes they need that reminder.