A few words on a non-story that has become a story

I have been out of town this week on business and was not able to make the budget hearings. Now that I’ve returned, I want to write a few words on this.

Longtime Councilwoman Elaine Lucas was not there and has protested the scheduling of the review during a time she is at work as a deliberate attempt to exclude her. Lucas, a graduation coach at Hutchings Career Center, has threatened to resign her committee post. She said Wednesday she has not done so yet and is waiting to see if the council’s leadership will resolve the situation.

In the past, when Elaine and Henry Ficklin lorded over Appropriations, the committee typically blocked out two days after the school year ended and did the budget from sun up to sun down. It was exhausting and many members of Council with full time jobs couldn’t adequately participate.

So now the tables are turned and Elaine is crying foul.

Here’s the thing. We’re all part time city councilmen with full time jobs. If Elaine misses a day at work, she is an employee with vacation time and sick time. She can take it and not miss a pay check.

When Mike Cranford misses a day of work, he’s the boss. He makes no money. He takes a hit.

Likewise, with the other members of Council who work, it is much more convenient to spread this process out over several half days than to try to cram it all in in just two or three days.

The process works better like this and the process should work like this. Again, we’re part time employees.

If Elaine does not want to use a half day of vacation to deal with the budget, that’s her choice.

This is not about Elaine being intentionally excluded or about the schedule not meeting her needs at all. This is about a committee, for the first time in four years, actually being considerate of all the members who have full time jobs and don’t get the whole summer off.

And by all accounts save one, this year’s budget hearing process is much less tiresome and over all better and more informative.

I’m sorry Elaine can’t or does not want to take days off work for this. But that’s no one’s problem but hers.

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Erick Erickson

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