• Last modified 500 days ago (Feb. 2, 2023)


is a dam shame

As any sports team in the county can attest, the line between winning and losing is thin — so thin, in fact, that you can do both at the same time.

Various adages that come to mind about winning while losing and losing while winning apply as much to editorial writers as they do to people who aren’t threatened with tar and feathers on a weekly basis.

This week, this editorial writer had poised his purportedly poison pen to compliment Marion crews on extending the 12 days of Christmas into a fourth month.

All week, he had noted like a dog salivating over the wares in a butcher shop window how Santa’s child-greeting house at Marion City Library and manger scene stable in Central Park remained on duty, poised to become Groundhog Day decorations as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s ones.

Alas, before being able to note for readers how citizens were getting three times as long to appreciate the decorations as they received to offer ideas about a city master plan — they’re due this week — city crews came along on the very morning an editorial was to be written and unceremoniously ended the extra-long holiday season.

It’s not as if your friendly neighborhood editorialist is without sin and can cast the first stone on such matter.

Years ago, living in suburban Milwaukee while working at the newspaper there, he kept up his Christmas tree — not an artificial one — so long that his son, coming back from college for spring break, began referring to it as an Easter tree.

What had been a fragrant and verdant bush at Friend Son’s last visit over Christmas break had turned into a fragile pile of brittle kindling ready to rain down needles faster that a supervisor in an Asian garment sweat shop.

Living alone at the time, I had no one nagging me about how clogged my carpet sweeper was likely to become when it came time to remove the tree and to tangle up all its box so they’d be in their familiar, frustrating disarray of tangles the following year.

When the cat’s away . . . .

Actually, the cat at the time seemed to prefer having the tree, which he’d occasionally bat at to see how many needles he could remove with a single paw swipe.

All of which should leave most fastidious people, like the taxpayers of our community, wondering just how much playing our government mice might be doing without a city administrator in the house to provide a bit of necessary nagging.

Even with all its positions filled, most governments have enough trouble staying on productive paths — doing more, for example, that just minimal work to the county lake’s dam and somehow expressing surprise when state authorities finally say that decades of ignoring warnings are enough.

Instead of continually buying buildings it isn’t sure what to do with, building overly costly transfer stations and ambulance quarters, and otherwise behaving like — well, county commissioners — we needed to be putting money into the upkeep of what we already had — things like the Bowron Building, which the county never would spend to restore, and the county lake, clearly the county’s single most valuable asset.

Piles of neglected pine needles can’t maintain community infrastructure, which always should be the No. 1 and most immediate priority for any governmental body even if every worker and official, like this writer, is prone to ignore tough tasks and grab for shiny new things instead of fixing old ones.

For the engines of government to run properly, they need someone to periodically insist on checking their oil, like state officials appear to be doing with the lake dam and city crews appear only somewhat to be doing in putting away Christmas decorations and never seeming to be able to have all holiday lights downtown actually working at the same time.

Patching potholes, darning dams, and intensively interviewing job candidates may be no more fun that carrying Christmas trees to the trash, and we all need to nag ourselves to do what’s necessary — when it’s necessary — instead of allowing minor faults to grow into gaping chasms.


Last modified Feb. 2, 2023