OUR VIEW: Drain office hiring a bad idea

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:06 am on Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sandy Raines was elected Montcalm County’s drain commissioner in November’s election, and we likely could not have elected a more competent and qualified person to that office. She served as deputy drain commissioner under the long-time commissioner, Don Cooper. As assistant to the highly respected Cooper, she undoubtedly played a strong role in her predecessor’s success.

On being elected to the leadership position, she began reorganizing the office, which certainly is her prerogative, drawing on her years of experience to write up a new slate of positions for the office by eliminating her former position and assuming, in her words, “a hands-on role with everything.”

The big “what if” is: If she should somehow not be able to fulfill her duties, who’ll be the one to do it? How did she learn the ropes of her new role?

The deputy commissioner position, the one that groomed her for her new duties, was cut because she couldn’t find anyone qualified to fill the position in her absence. The proposed new position of drain inspector also apparently did not attract any qualified applicants.

Second in command in the drain commissioner’s office will be Carrie Wills, who is the drain office specialist and a 16-year veteran in the department. Mike Abbot is the drain maintenance officer.

Commissioner Raines has proposed her husband, Veldra Raines, fill the new position of drain inspector. Veldra Raines is a respected 13-year veteran of Montcalm County’s excellent road commission. We don’t question his competency.

We do not question the integrity or ability of any of the people involved here. There is, however an automatic aversion in public sentiment toward elected officials hiring close relatives, especially in a four-person office. A long list of scenarios can be derived from the premise. Most of them are bad. We agree with Commissioner Tom Lindeman’s nonendorsement of this new arrangement.

Viewed as a public convenience or a public concern, we think it’s a bad idea for the Raines’, the office and for the people it serves.

 Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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