Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blaming the children

I just love it how Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale tries to deflect attention from the issue at hand when it relates to him with something totally unrelated to what is being discussed. Yesterday, we learned that the reckless spending in the Knox County Mayor's Office didn't occur because Mike Ragsdale allowed it to go on. No-it happened because the Mayor was minding more important matters-he was reading to schoolchildren.

“I suspect that instead of going to read with school kids, I could have spent more time in the office making financial decisions,” said Ragsdale, who was moved to tears at the end of his speech.

“Our record keeping wasn’t good, but our results were great.”

Since my wife is a former employee of Knox County Schools, I have had the opportunity to see the Read With Me program in action. It is a great program, and I do think it is wonderful that the Mayor set it up-but it also doesn't require a penny of taxpayer dollars and it depends on community volunteers to make it work. Mayor Ragsdale is just one of these volunteers, and it may shock him to learn that there are now programs like Read With Me all over the country. Surely Read With Me has enough volunteers that if this were what was keeping Mayor Ragsdale from doing right by the taxpayers of Knox County, someone could fill in for him.

Give us all a break, Mr. Mayor. Everyone or everything else is responsible for the wrongdoing in your office except you. It was all Tyler Harber's doing when he hacked into the e-mails of your intra-Party rivals to dig up dirt (he was a "troubled young man"), then it was Requitta Bone's fault that she overused her county purchasing card wining and dining while you do the same. It was former Finance Director John Werner's fault for engaging in practices that were so commonplace in the executive branch that he saw no problem with them. Then it was Margie Loyd's fault for those lobster lunches at Regas you approved. Those defending Community Services Director Cynthia Finch after Ragsdale likened her to Christ last week had better not hold their breath. If Mikey thinks it will save his hide, he will gladly play the role of Judas to her Jesus.

Since everyone else but the Mayor is responsible for the Mayor's troubles, including accountant Lewis Cosby, who the Mayor allegedly called a "showboat" under his breath at yesterday's Commission meeting, it should come as no surprise that in the Ragsdale blame game, we can throw the children of Knox County somewhere in that mix. After all, they are very nearly the only ones who haven't had a finger pointed at them.

That all changed yesterday, when Ragsdale said that the pattern of abuse of taxpayer money in his office occurred because he was off reading to the county's children. Give the kids a rest-they don't deserve to be brought into this mess.



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