Going rogue in Rowan
Oh, dear. Do we have a county commissioner who’s “going rogue” and not following the niceties of protocol, a la former VP candidate Sarah Palin and her outspoken refusal to kowtow to the chain of command during the presidential race?
Apparently so ó and the Board of Commissioners found the idea so ominous it voted 3-2 to pass what in essence was a public rebuke of Raymond Coltrain for going off the reservation and “free-lancing” his services without first informing his colleagues.
Obviously, the board wouldn’t have spent its valuable time on this matter unless something outrageous had occurred. So what was the misstep that drew this response? Coltrain sat in on a meeting of area mayors ó in fact, may have even gone so far as to “run” the meeting ó and did not inform his colleagues beforehand. He “left us completely out of the loop,” according to Commissioner Tina Hall.
Although Coltrain said he notified the mayors that he was acting “as an individual,” clearly this sort of things can’t be tolerated. Who knows what sinister ideas might be spread if a commissioner is allowed to exercise his right to freedom of association and goes about “free-lancing” himself to local groups? If a commissioner acts independently, it could lead to all manner of mischief ó like a stronger county role in farmland preservation or, horror of horrors, advocacy for public greenways. Even worse, what if a “free-lancing” commissioner were to secretly associate with some radical group ó like the Centralina Council of Governments? (We’re not suggesting Mr. Coltrain supports any of those things, mind you; we’re just emphasizing the potential pitfalls.)
Of course, some who don’t see the grave threat lurking in Coltrain’s actions have suggested that the board’s crackdown bears more than a whiff of politics. The vote was 3-2, with three Republicans (Chairman Carl Ford, Chad Mitchell and new GOP convert Hall) siding against Coltrain, now the board’s lone Democrat, and Jon Barber. However, ascribing political motivations ignores the clear and present danger that could result when a public official goes rogue.
In such instances, our duly elected boards can’t afford to stand idly by and have their collective authority undermined. No sir. To quote that great statesman Barney Fife, you’ve got to “nip it ó nip it in the bud.”