Newspaper Article Archive of
Bob Ray served as the governor of Iowa from 1969-83. Those were my formative years. In a way, he will always be my definition of a governor. By now you have read all the tributes – I will simply add that Bob Ray was a good man!
Interestingly, Gov. Ray’s wife, Billie, was my landlord for a couple of years in the early 1990s at the Broadway Condos in SE Iowa City. I wish I had some great story to tell, but I never met her. I was satisfied with her as a landlord, and she was satisfied with me as a tenant.
RIP, Gov. Ray. May your sense of fairness, compassion, wisdom, and progressive vision serve as an influence on those who seek to hold the office now and in the future!
Johnson County Fair
The Johnson County Fair is changing things this year! Unlike the typical Monday-Thursday schedule, the 2018 Fair runs from Sunday, July 22 through Wednesday, July 25. Regardless of the dates, this is a great opportunity for the whole family to take a step back toward our agricultural roots!
I love the way the Johnson County Ag Association manages the county fair. I am particularly fond of the fact that there is never an entry fee, and parking is free. In many counties, you would pay $10 to park and $5/head admission, if not more. That is $30 minimum for a family of four before you have even done anything!
Yes, it is typically hot out there, but that is why they sell ice cream! So, please stop out and enjoy the fair. You’ll be glad you did!
For the full daily lineup of events, go to: www.johnsoncofair.com/entertainment.html.
One of the most delicate balances for any elected official is the balance between following staff recommendations and following the wishes of individual members of the public.
On one hand, it is absolutely vital that elected officials trust their staff people. We hire people to be experts. If we are not willing to heed expert advice, why employ an expert?
On the flip side, we all have instances where we disagree. If elected officials blindly follow staff recommendations, things will not go well. Elected officials are charged with weighing staff expertise versus public opinion and other mitigating circumstances.
So, how does an elected official strike a healthy balance? In my mind, the most important factor is hiring good people. If elected officials have less than 99 percent confidence in key staff, there will be trouble. Second-guessing hurts everyone involved.
Part of the measure of a really good staff person is her ability to accept things when elected officials overrule or disagree with her. I always appreciate it when staff people turn things around on elected officials, and let them own the decision. For example:
“Here is the situation. Here are your adopted policies that may/may not be applicable. Here is my recommendation. Here is why I recommend it. If you choose to accept my recommendation, here are the possible ramifications. If you choose not to accept my recommendation, here are the possible ramifications. Let me know what you decide, and I’ll begin implementing it right away.”
We are very fortunate in Johnson County, as we have some extremely good staff people. Many run through the decision-making process just as I laid it out above. I follow their lead most of the time. When I do not follow their advice, we discuss the reasons why, and there are no hard feelings. (At least, I hope there are no hard feelings!) There are ways to disagree without throwing staff under the bus; as elected officials, we should act accordingly most of the time.
There is no magic number when it comes to following staff recommendations, but it probably shouldn’t be 100 percent. If so, one must question the ability of the elected official to think independently.