In April 2 IssueBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
So, I thought about it…
Thought a lot about it, actually.
What in the world is it going to take to give this county a good "kick start," to get some things going, to move forward?
Which made me think about something I wrote a couple of weeks ago.
While ranting about the county's proposed, occupational tax increase, I mentioned something about our Deputy County Judge, Chris Ramsey, being laid off due to budget cuts.
That's unfortunate, because I hypothesized we hadn't seen his full potential.
Being the Libra I am, I just wanted to know...
With over 20 years in the media, and I have certainly learned a few things about politics.
When speaking with someone involved with politics, you expect hyperbole, grandiose ideas, promises, posturing, and such.
Knowing Mr. Ramsey had just been laid off, I expected he may be a little angry.
Instead, he was calm, cool, collected, cordial, and most importantly…CANDID.
He wished not to focus on his situation, but was concerned about the county.
"Sure, we're facing some problems," he said. "Everybody is aware of that…there's no need to sugarcoat it."
At present, the county has a deficit of nearly $200,000.
If a "balanced" budget is not in place by June 1, the state could theoretically come in and "take over" the county government. (You don't want that.)
To address the issue, both Ramsey, and most of the county road crew, were laid off recently, and the Russell County Fiscal Court tried (and is still trying) to up the county's occupational fee from .25 to a full, one percent.
"Sure, it would be easier to raise the occupational fee a little bit," Ramsey said, "but it just wouldn't be enough…and we would have to come back and keep raising it."
How did the county find itself "in the hole."
"Well, it didn't happen overnight," Ramsey said. "It's up to the current administration to address the problem and not only try to fix it, but think about the future.'
Amen to that, I say, because that's progressive thinking.
Sure, one can maybe come up with a "quick fix," but that doesn't always solve the problem.
"I honestly believe people understand times are tough and it's affecting everybody-from households to government," he said. "We're all feeling it.
"That's why now, more than ever, we need transparency in government," he said. "People have a right to know how their money is being spent, what's its being spent for, what challenges lie ahead, and how they're going to be dealt with."
Could it be that someone truly has our best interests at heart, and wants to see this county succeed?
But wait…he's no longer Deputy judge.
At this point and time in our history, it is crucial for Russell County to have proactive, positive, and professional leadership.
Did you ever think you'd see our county government on Facebook and Twitter?
Did you ever think you'd see minutes from county government meetings posted on-line for all to see?
Did you ever think you'd ever actually be asked to participate in polls, or share your opinions, ideas, concerns?
Chris Ramsey's influence is all over those achievements.
He has sought to literally bring the government to the people-to help them feel involved.
Don't you think would could benefit from his knowledge and ability?
You want to get real? (Think about that before you answer…)
Russell County has historically suffered from a problem called NEPOTISM.
We all know people have been given some pretty sweet jobs because of who they were, who they knew, etc.-whether they were qualified or not.
That has NOT helped this county one bit.
It's hurt it.
Let's step on some more toes while we're on a roll…
I heard someone say, "Well, that deputy judge isn't from here." (Somerset, actually. Holy cow, like that's on the other side of the earth!)
"Yeah, I've run into that," Ramsey said. "I hope people know I chose to live here and raise a family here. I love it here. This is my home and want to make a difference if I can."
As far as I'm concerned, if someone is qualified for the job, and does it well, I don't give a hoot where they're from.
Dog-gonnit, people sometimes we need a different perspective on things, and some "outside help" isn't necessarily a bad thing.
When did we get to be so ethnocentric? (College word)
There has also been some discussion over the need for a "deputy judge."
(Insert chuckle here)
As I have said before, many or most counties have a county judge, assistant county judge, assistant to the county judge, deputy county judge, judge pro-tem, administrative assistant…well, you get you idea.
It's not uncommon and it is NOT the reason the county is facing a revenue shortfall.
Still not convinced?
The county judge cannot be everywhere at once.
When he's unavailable, it's actually good business to have someone capable and competent holding down the fort.
How important is a "deputy judge" or someone in that capacity?
If you think back to the prosperous years under the Terril Flanagan administration, you will remember Bob Bernard was an essential part of our county government. Whenever Judge Flanagan was in Frankfort rallying for our county, Mr. Bernard kept things running smoothly.
Can we afford a deputy county judge?
I dunno, can we afford not to have one?
And how much exactly would it cost us to have Mr. Ramsey as a deputy judge?
(Drum roll, please...)
Approximately $15,600 with no insurance (which the deputy judge was eligible for, but waived).
His pay is based on 25-30 per weeks, which, in reality, ends up being closer to 50-60 hours a week.
If you speak with Mr. Ramsey, you may be amazed at his ability to quote facts and figures, about how our county compares with others across the state.
He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of state laws, rules, regulations, and the inner-workings of all levels of government.
Even better than that, he has exciting and encouraging plans for the future.
He's THE REAL DEAL, and that's what we need right now.
Hey, Gary Robertson was wise to have Mr. Ramsey as his campaign manager.
If Mr. Ramsey can help someone win a hotly-contested election (with a clean campaign) for the top job in the county, don't you think he can help Russell County move forward?
So, I'm sure some of you are wondering, "Is he going to get his job back?"
"I honestly don't know," Ramsey said.
"Luckily, I'm blessed to have opportunities, but I was really excited about working for, and with, the people of Russell County."
Chris Ramsey is not a "good ol' boy," not an "insider," not a "yes person."'
But he is the right man for the job of Deputy Judge.