Originally created 09/30/03

Let's follow the rules

Ken Kraemer might still be Augusta Regional Airport director if one of the aviation board members who voted to fire him last month had properly followed a City Commission ordinance.

Joe Scott, who aided in the 5-4 tally to oust Kraemer, appears to be serving in violation of a rule, established after the city and county consolidated in 1996, that no one may serve on two or more boards at the same time. Scott is on the Coliseum Authority as well as the aviation commission.

Despite that, City Attorney Jim Wall says Scott's vote against Kraemer still stands. Maybe so, but it will certainly give Kraemer more ammunition in his lawsuit against the city protesting his dismissal.

Obviously, it would have been better if Scott had followed the rule which calls for prospective appointees to let the Augusta Commission know if they are serving on another board.

Scott apparently did not do that - perhaps because he and others around him weren't aware of the ordinance. But ignorance of the law is no excuse. If they are going to accept positions of responsibility, appointees to area boards must make it their jobs to know what's required of them.

The honorable thing for anyone in that position is to offer to resign from one of his or her posts, thus forcing the city commission to deal with its own rule. The rule should either be enforced, or repealed if both appointees and commissioners continue to ignore it.

But first they ought to remember why it was approved in the first place.

Under the former city and county governments, too many of the same old faces kept showing up on the quasi-government panels, such as the Coliseum Authority and aviation board. It smacked too much of the good-'ol-boy system.

So with the advent of the new consolidated government came calls to encourage a wider participation in public affairs - new blood, and more democratic ways of doing things.

Limiting appointees to one board at a time was one of the reforms to come out of this, and it's as good a reform today as it was when it was adopted six years ago. Desires for new people in government, and to expand democratic practices, are as imperative as ever.

There is another issue the city commission should deal with regarding board appointments. Some board members stay on seemingly forever after their term expires. Ridiculous. It leaves the appointee and the board in a never-never land.

When a term expires, the appointee should be reappointed immediately or exit the post, leaving the panel short-handed. This would force the commission to deal with the matter instead of just ignoring it.

It's been ignored long enough.


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