Game playing, cronyism have become status quo

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Tomahawk Leader
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Game playing, cronyism have become status quo

Postby Tomahawk Leader » Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:02 pm

Won't seek re-election to Fourth Ward, Merrill

From Melissa Schroeder
Lincoln County Board Supervisor

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Melissa Schroeder, and I have been serving as a County Board Supervisor since 1990 and the majority of my time on the board has been wonderful and rewarding. However, since 2002 a hostile environment has permeated within this County Board and it begins and ends with the total disrespect for any supervisor who dares to question the established power structure.

This letter may or may not surprise some people and it could prompt at least one "Letter to the Editor" regarding how misguided I am. It is time to set the record straight concerning what has really been going on with this board and why it is so dysfunctional. I have not been able to accomplish as much as I had wanted to in the past three and a half years because I am not willing to keep my mouth shut. We are all entitled to our opinions and I have mine. Frankly, I am sick and tired of being demonized for asking questions or having a difference of opinion.

I have served under four other County Board chairs and during the most adversarial of times, we always treated each other with decency and respect. The board didn't agree on every issue, but at the end of the day, we walked out of our meetings as friends, who happened to have a difference of opinion on the issues. Unfortunately, now an effective "blame game" is being waged against those of us who question the majority's motives and tactics. The only way tensions have subsided is when the current regime has silenced us by intimidation or if we are willing to join the "gang." Game playing and cronyism in the name of "good government" has become status quo. Name calling is promoted and tolerated, especially when the name calling is done by friends and supporters of the chair and directed at the perceived "troublemakers." The ego trip that the County Board leadership is on has led to nothing but monetary damages and a public relations nightmare for Lincoln County and its residents.

The latest initiative is "Let's create a County Administrator." Lincoln County taxpayers are expected to believe that the only way Lincoln County government will run smoothly is if we have a county administrator and the only reason everything went haywire over the last few years is because the county didn't have one.

A resolution authored by Supervisor Alber appeared on the September County Board agenda even though it had been referred to an "independent committee" by the Administrative and Legislative Committee. His resolution had no factual data concerning which counties have administrators, the population of those counties or the potential long-term effects concerning an increase in staff or wages attached to it. With no concrete information to warrant a change, we were expected to take a "leap of faith" along with Supervisor Alber (his words, not mine) and vote yes on his resolution. Thankfully, the resolution lost by one vote.

The "independent committee" has since been named and they are instructed to investigate the need for an administrator along with other possible changes to the administrative structure of Lincoln County. For your information, the committee members have already demonstrated their support for a county administrator because every member on this committee voted for the resolution authored by Supervisor Alber. My question to the chair is: Why didn't you at least make some attempt to hide your bias and appoint one person to the committee who might have questioned the need for an administrator?

After much soul searching, I have decided not to seek re-election in 2006. There are many reasons why I came to this decision: 1.) Disrespect, mistrust, animosity and intimidation will continue until whoever is elected chair is willing to extend a hand of friendship and respect to all supervisors so that this board can be functional again; 2.) I don't think enough supervisors appreciate the fact that we serve at your pleasure. You pay the bills with your tax dollars and we need to do a better job of handling your money; and 3.) I think it is time for me to step aside and allow someone with a new perspective to serve the citizens of the Fourth Ward. My only hope is that the person who replaces me will be unbiased, have the "where for all" to think and speak for themselves and not cave in to the pressures that go along with the job.

To the citizens of Merrill's fourth ward, thank you, I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as your County Board supervisor. To my wonderful family and friends, thank you for your support and understanding since this journey began. Finally, to my friends who continue to serve on the Lincoln County Board and in county government, let me quote Edward R. Murrow, "Good Night and Good Luck."

Melissa Schroeder

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