Commission#039;s action reeks of pure politics

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 19, 2003

Tribune Staff

The Lawrence County Commission's decision to suddenly shift gears at the county's Emergency Management Agency is puzzling.

On Thursday, the commission voted 2-1 to combine the county's 911 and Emergency Management Agency offices; then re-hired former EMA/911 director Don Mootz to head both agencies.

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In July 2001, the commissioners split the county's EMA and 911 and fired Mootz, citing philosophical differences in management. The board then appointed Mike Boster to head the EMA, and contracted with Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Service to provide management services for the 911 Dispatching Center.

So what has changed in 18 months?

It's simple -- the majority party.

Mootz's termination -- which was called questionable by many people -- occurred when Republicans controlled the board. Now, Democrats hold a majority. Both decisions were made by a 2-1 vote -- along party lines.

Commission President George Patterson said this action was taken "to right a wrong." But do two wrongs make a right? We think not.

All three commissioners said Boster has done a good job leading the EMA. In addition, the Western West Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross recently sent a letter to the commission, praising Boster's leadership.

So how do you reward someone for doing a good job? Replace him, say the majority members of the commission.

This move reeks of politics -- a majority muscle-flex.

We wonder what the voters think? And, we wonder why the commissioners chose to make the decision with little public input. The decision was, as best we could tell, all but made prior to the meeting.

Politics can easily blur what should be a clear distinction between what is best for the entire county and what is best for a select, majority few.

On Thursday, that line of distinction was blurred beyond recognition. And that is a shame.