This letter ran last week and was cut off at the end. Here it is again in its entirety. Our apologies for the confusion.

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:44

    Representatives not doing their job The situation in Washington is most distressing to all citizens-for a variety of reasons. We might agree that we are suffering from a lack of confidence in our system due to persistence of personal or political agendas, incompetence, leadership failure, and perhaps most of all, the inability to discuss effectively and eventually agree on a reasonably common set of facts that can then drive the optimal decisions. One wonders whether we can any longer have confidence in those who represent us. Perhaps we can apply some of these observations to our local situation. Having served on the Sparta Township Council for ten years, I understand clearly how difficult it can be to govern on the lowest tier of Democracy-where your constituents are your neighbors and there are no mountains of staff support, nor geographic shields from confronting your constituents and their views. As we are all human, those opinions range from pure self-interest, to thoughtful, fact-based views directed towards the community’s best interests as a whole. Elected representatives must deal with the entire range and must rely on the work and opinions of hired professionals. The Boards that are elected have the leadership mantle and must do their best to press the professionals to be forthcoming, diligent and thorough. This is not easy, and can benefit from every day citizens’ viewpoints as well as professional experience where management and leadership qualities are required for success. I came to the most recent School Board meeting with one line from the Superintendent’s job description: The Superintendent shall “Establish sufficient controls to ensure that District funds are expended wisely and efficiently.” It is clear to me that this person is charged with establishing a system and procedures that ensures the elected persons have all facts required to make informed decisions. I cannot judge whether that responsibility has been appropriately exercised in the current instance, though the experience of recent years brings considerable doubt. It is good that an independent audit has been requested. I ask the Board to press for a comprehensive and transparent audit, and to take any appropriate steps that the conclusions dictate. We often hear that 'iron-clad’ contracts promise that personnel actions against high salaried individuals would be a lengthy, costly legal process. That may be. However, the alternative, which appears to be years of additional dysfunction and lack of mutual respect, and likely rejected budgets and more ill-informed decisions that have real every day negative impact on our residents and their children seems to be a far less appealing alternative. My view is that national spending is threatening our United States at its core, and that reasonable means to correct it with reasonable impacts on all citizens are available if the country’s interests are placed in paramount position. We desperately need a renaissance in Washington and leadership that will press for the facts and make decisions accordingly. I think Sparta is in a very similar position and I urge our school board to step up and take decisive action. Michael Devine Sparta