All relationships are built on the solid foundation of trust. Whether it be a friendship, a business partner, or even a marriage, where there is trust a relationship can flourish. So, too, is trust absolutely essential between elected officials and their constituents.
Trust thrives in transparency. Trust grows with communication. But when trust is violated, relationships are strained, difficult, and sometimes severed beyond reconciliation.
Our Ashtabula County Commissioners have broken that trust. Not once. Not twice. But three times and counting.
First, they never consulted local business owners about the Lodge. They never floated this idea in a public setting. They negotiated the agreement behind closed doors. No one knew. And for what purpose, one might ask? No doubt the shining jewel of Ashtabula County was sacrificed to ease indebtedness for the construction of a new jail.
Second, as to the jail, the location was kept a secret for months purportedly to keep speculation costs of acquiring adequate acreage from spiraling. When the location was announced, it was revealed that no professional appraisal was done. Who agrees to buy property without an appraisal? To complicate matters, the seller happens to be the mother of the Jefferson Village Administrator. Is this transparency? Is this open government? Does this build trust?
Third, the Commissioners have touted that six new officers would be added to the force if the levy is passed. Recently, however, the new sheriff made a request to add four more officers to his staff BEFORE the levy is voted upon. There is no doubt that such additions are needed, but where is the plan? Where is the transparency? Where is the trust?
No one can argue that a jail isn’t needed. But given their miserable track record of running roughshod over transparency, one must question the methodology of the Commissioners. Can they be trusted? Should they be trusted? It is, after all, a matter of trust.