Paid trip to conference not within means

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Many times in my career, I’ve had the chance to see hypocrisy in human form and often times it rolls around in the political arena. It’s not that hypocrisy is rampant in politics, but it is often times politicians and elected officials set themselves up for such hypocritical mistakes.

One such case is when those at the national level speak about such legislation as that intended to defend the definition of marriage only to be found and later admit to have been in an extramarital affair. Or when an elected official makes public remarks about the scourge of pork barrel spending only to request millions of dollars be funneled to his state or district for such things as underwater pebble picking farms.

Another such case happened at the local level this week when county commissioner Joe Headly spoke out about the need to further cut spending at the county level. He commented that he would have a hard time supporting any proposed tax initiatives to help the county’s struggling finances if spending wasn’t further controlled.

I not only applaud Mr. Headly’s comments but also commend him for doing so and stating the truth that passing any new tax initiatives, even ones he said he would support, will be difficult to pass.

But the problem comes in this. Mr. Headley and fellow commissioner Greg Moore have asked the county to pay for their trips to a county commission conference at the beautiful Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach. Not only will the county cover all registration costs, but mileage, meals and other related expenses will be covered.

Moore, Headley and commissioner Allen Caton are scheduled to attend the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s annual convention in August.

Each has completed a number of hours of training and is scheduled to receive a training certificate.

But unlike Moore and Headly, Caton, who is still undecided if he will actually make the trip, said he would cover all of his expenses “100 percent.”

I will be the first to admit that I do not envy the jobs our elected officials hold. Not only do they face problems only a few of us can ever comprehend, but they must battle those problems in the view of the public.

There is no doubt the training was warranted and will make each of these men even more qualified commissioners.

Many times our commissioners have talked of a tight budget and living within our means. It would just seem this time, paying for trips to Orange Beach are not within our means.