It is with disappointment and regret to find that the Rock County Board unanimously approved changing a democratically elected county administrative office into a political appointment. I suppose the majority of the board thought they were doing the "peoples" work after getting the results on a referendum from this past November.
Referendum QuestionThe results of that non-binding referendum was Yes 25,441 - No 19,775. Those voters counted. The incumbent coroner, Jenifer Keach, received 34,642 votes. It does seem like the voter's wishes for the coroner have been discounted.
Question: Should the County of Rock exercise its authority under Article VI, Section 4 (2) of the Wisconsin Constitution to replace the existing elected Office of Coroner with a County appointed medical examiner system, effective January 2015?
To be sure, county board members in the past have gone on the record saying that a change to an appointed medical examiner was nothing personal, nor was it a reflection on the job performance of the current coroner. Hmmph. That's interesting.
Here were the three commonly held reasons promoted through the local media encouraging the public to vote "yes" on the referendum:
1. Janesville Gazette REMOVE THE PARTISANSHIP
"...it makes no sense that the coroner's office is partisan. Partisanship creates a political scrum every four years. It makes no difference whether the person who certifies a death is a Democrat or Republican."
2. League Of Women Voters ACCOUNTABILITY AND EFFICIENCY
...administrators within government should be held accountable only to government, not the voters...it's more efficient that way."
3. County Board President BOARD SUPERVISION AND CONTROL
...the board needs to gain control of the office. "We have no supervision over the ...office"
If those are the indiscriminate reasons why voters chose to change a democratically elected county office into an appointed position - so be it. The voters have spoken. I'm good with that. But then what about the other six county offices that share the same political scrum as the coroner's office? Where's the same concern about accountability, efficiency, control, supervision or partisanship for the other offices? Why should Rock County residents settle for anything less in those offices? Remember, the folks targeting one office for reform claimed it was nothing personal.
Unless of course there's a fourth reason why some voters may have chosen to discriminately dismantle the office...
4. Rock Netroots POLITICAL REVENGE AND HATE
In what first began with politically motivated complaints to discredit the coroner, the campaign of false accusations by a handful of misguided and misinformed political pawns has grown into a full-blown personal vendetta misinformation media circus conspiracy designed to defraud county voters out of their right to elect their own coroner...
So this is easy. I'm making a request of my readers to help me persuade the voters of Rock County to contact county board members and their local newspapers and let them know the reasons why they voted "yes" in the coroner/ME referendum. If the reasons are numbers one, two or three, then county residents must not be cheated out from applying those standards in all administrative county offices. We deserve no less. All county administrative offices must then be dismantled and reformed with newly appointed officials and by-laws. But if the reason is number four and I suspect it is, then the county board will likely ignore those indiscriminate wishes supported by the referendum results and allow the lack of oversight and accountability to remain festering in the other offices.
You might not agree, but the public trust and perception in our county government is at a crossroads. The only way to prove that discriminately applied political revenge and personal hate had nothing to do with the media campaign to wrest the office away from voters, is to prove the moral prudence of efficiency, control, supervision and accountability have everything to do with it indiscriminately across all county offices.
Of course the bottom line is, is democracy and the public trust has been beaten into a pulp in Rock County on nearly every front.