Issue of fairness
We've been wrestling with the notion that those seeking to retain their seats on the planning commission should have to appear before the county commissioners for a new interview, as Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson wants.
We can't quite put our finger on what bothers us about this, but it feels too much like being called to the principal's office.
Of course, Hutchinson and the other commissioners have the right to interview whoever they want. But why make the members of one board jump through hoops to keep their seats, but not members of other boards?
We understand planning commission president Jack Soronen's fear that members may see it as political pressure if they are questioned about their votes or asked to justify their actions. How could they not? Political intimidation can come from the progressive side just as readily as from the conservative side.
That's not to say the commissioners shouldn't talk to a board member if they believe he or she is not doing a good job or seems to be acting out of self-interest rather than in the public interest. But at least be straight out about it. And apply it to all volunteer boards equally.
The planning commission is not the only county-appointed group, after all. Such boards and committees oversee the hospital, local parks and recreation programs, the health department, county economic development efforts, farmland preservation spending, use of the county fire fee and other concerns.
Perhaps the commissioners should meet with each board at least once a year to discuss how things are going and let people get a feeling for each other's thinking. At that time, either side of the table could bring up problems and expectations — and, yes, even talk about who's up for reappointment in the year ahead.
It's the cherry picking of questioning only a few planning commission members that nags at us. There has to be some fairness in this process.