There comes a time that no matter how much I want to avoid an issue, I have a job to do as a newspaper editor. And so, since the primary job of a newspaper is to serve as the watchdog for its community, the time has come to let you know about some issues with city government in Hillsboro.
There are many things I could say, many details I could delve in to — because I have more than enough documentation. But, at least for now, this is what I feel the community’s residents need to know.
There are questions about purchases the city administration has made, one fairly large one in particular. The purchase was most definitely unethical, and some believe it may have been illegal.
I have even been told by the city’s legal council that he advised the city administration to steer clear of such purchases.
Then, there is a resolution that was passed by city council last year, but it does not exist. At least it did not exist for several months, and did not exist when I checked recently.
There appears to be a city council member or two, who no matter how well-meaning they might be, are a little confused about exactly what their role as a city council member should be. On the other hand, it is understandable that they wonder why they have not been informed about things they would like to be informed about.
There have been some questionable appointments to city committees, questionable enough that some within the city government say they violate the city’s own codes.
And there seems to be a mighty big lack of communication between certain city entities and others, because all the topics above have been brought to me by various factions of the city’s government, or someone within that same government that I talked to seeking further information.
I could go on. I could name names. I could give more details. But, for the time being at least, I will not, for a number of reasons.
I believe jealously could be behind some of the accusations that are being tossed around. I am of the opinion that most of the apparent mistakes were not made purposely. I believe there could be valid reasons for a missing document.
But even if all of that is the case, it does not look good. It does not look good when a city council member has to ask a member of the city administration three straight times in an open council meeting before they get a somewhat straight answer about who a certain purchase was made from.
No doubt like some reading this column, it did not make me happy when I saw a communication from the council clerk sent to many others involved in the city’s dealings, saying that yours truly “has struggled with accurate journalism.” It seemed an unusual comment, but hey, what do I know, maybe that is part of the clerk’s job, too.
Now, that is not to say that I have not made a mistake here and there. Goodness knows I have made many in my lifetime.
But when I do, particularly when it comes to this newspaper, I will readily admit the mistake, and do my best to fix it. And therein lies the solution to this whole mess. Because whatever the problems are, they can be fixed easily and quickly if others admit that mistakes have been made. No one likes to make mistakes, especially ones exposed to the public. But if you do, admit it, fix it and move on.
Again, there is much more that could be said. But maybe what I’m trying to say was best said in a recent email I received from a city council member: “As council and administration, we all need to follow procedure, talk things over in public, and do the best for the community. It’s as simple as that.”
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-40202522.