Op-Ed

Agency hit by ‘guilty until proven innocent’ view

Herald-Leader

The greatest irony in the July 6 editorial, “Blowing up the ADD aging without a plan” is that regional councils of governments were created primarily for that one function — to plan.

No one at the Bluegrass Area Development District went to school to major in journalism, public relations, law, business or politics. Perhaps it would have been better if they did, but unfortunately the top management was selected with backgrounds in regional infrastructure planning and public administration.

The regional elected officials have chartered the most transparent operation potentially ever seen in government. Complete financial transactions are provided on a monthly basis with enough detail to balance a checkbook.

Not only are minutes from meetings provided, but even the audio of meetings is posted so that every minute of every meeting can be reviewed. Closed sessions are rarely used, even when discussing legal matters. The state of transparency is so antiseptic that it is perhaps bewildering to state government.

It appears that transparency has been confused with defensiveness.

Clouds of suspicion consume the public’s attention making its eye not only wary, but also weary. But yet the evidence is not forthcoming. When did we move away from a society of innocent until proven guilty to a society of guilty until proven innocent?

Now the unfortunate collateral damage from the “blowing-up” of this program is the abrupt and unavoidable disruption of services to 5,500 people. The regional elected officials voted to preserve order through this chaos by supporting with local funds the staff necessary to run these programs through July. That leaves 20 days to put in place the necessary plan to ensure a transition — if there is one — is conducted in a smooth, thoughtful and compassionate manner.

If unsubstantiated claims were paid without the supporting evidence would the new Bluegrass ADD really be that different than the old Bluegrass ADD? Lack of evidence and lack of due process unfortunately necessitate the use of legal tools. No one is happy about it, but until someone stands up and shouts, “Someone please stop the carnival!” What other choice is there?

Regional elected officials have continued to submit request after request to meet with state officials for the purpose of planning. Great differences can be resolved, and great things can be accomplished when great minds agree to work together.

But nothing great happens when things get blown up and unilateral changes are dictated to happen in a week’s time.

Until we take the politics and the lawyers out of the equation and put the planners back at the table, the carnival will continue to spin.

David Duttlinger is executive director of the Bluegrass Area Development District.

At issue: June 29 Herald-Leader article, “Regional group calls state’s attempts to pull funding ‘political’” and July 6 Herald-Leader editorial, “Blowing up ADD aging without a plan”

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