A photograph might be worth 1,000 words, but for the second time in two weeks, it was numerous words that surrounded if a decision on whether a photograph would be displayed at all.
You can read staff writer W. Curt Vincent’s story about the Bladen County commissioners’ meeting on Page 1 today for the details, but we will focus our lens on some specifics that came out of that discussion.
It’s necessary to note that a vote on June 5 approved $1,450 to reproduce, mat and frame photographs of the county commissioners for hanging in all county facilities. That vote was 5-4, and since then there has been some grumbling about the decision — including from us in an editorial that claimed the five commissioners had chosen egos over frugality.
On Monday, they did little to sway us from that thinking — though we give credit to Commissioner Russell Priest, who previously voted in favor of the photographs, for requesting a possible re-vote on the issue July 17.
Let’s zoom in on a few of the justifications given for spending $1,450 of taxpayer money:
— People ask all the time who their commissioner is, and the photographs will let them know. Really? A phone call to the county manager’s office would tell them; a Google search of Bladen County commissioners would tell them; a visit to a county commissioners’ meeting would tell them. And most of all … who did these people vote for?
— Other counties do it. Probably the worst reason in the world, so we will answer that with something our mothers once asked each of us … “if your friends jumped off a bridge, does that mean you have to?”
— Giving a little now might get us a lot later when we’re working on a million-dollar deal for the county. This one is pure politics. People are tired of the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” method of governing. First of all, if a deal spending taxpayers’ money is wasteful, the deal should be killed. Period. And too often, once the bad deal is done, the party of the first part rarely remembers to scratch the backs of the party of the second part. But honestly, if a county commissioner needs to have the approval to waste $1,450 in order to approve a million-dollar deal later, then they shouldn’t be an elected official.
— It’s good PR. How? A photograph in a county building isn’t going to tell anyone anything. All it does is appease those commissioners who think they need to have their positions validated and promoted. Nobody walks into a health department or jail or DSS to look at photographs.
— We’re saving $800 in labor cost. Great. While the donation of labor cost is a wonderful gesture, it’s still like going to the store with a $5 coupon, purchasing a $25 item that has no purpose and boasting about the savings of $5.
Now, we should wrap up this photo shooting with the fact that Commissioner Michael Cogdell, the instigator of the entire issue, claims he has someone who will fund the full cost so the county won’t need to pay. If that’s the case, which is what should have happened right from the start, then we are satisfied.
If not, we will emphasize our response to the question asked Monday about what the benefit of the photographs to the county will be. The answer is simple: None.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” (James W. Frick)