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“The essential difference between EMOTION and REASON is that emotion leads to action and reason leads to conclusions.” Donald Calne
When the ballots were tallied in November, 2012, the outcome showed the six Shepherdsville residents that had been trusted by their peers to represent them in making decisions regarding local legislation on their behalf. The three of us were fortunate enough to be among those six.
Some of the decisions we are trusted to make are trivial in the grand scope of life, while others bear a much greater weight.
On February 20, 2014 with less than adequate information, we were called on to make a hasty decision that carried a great deal of weight. Before her complete absence during the month of January while on a trip broad, Councilwoman Dana Bischoff James requested the Police Department prepare a cost analysis of hiring two or more School Resource Officers (SRO’s) during the December 9, 2013 council meeting. As requested a cost analysis along with a quasi-cover letter sales-pitch dated January 6, 2014, was provided.
The cost analysis showed adding two SRO’s as of February 1, 2014 to be $127,801.13 for the remainder of this fiscal year (five months) and another $96,379.65 for next fiscal year. That meant the total expenditure for hiring two SRO’s for the next seventeen months would be a staggering $224,180.78. A very brief mention that cost analysis had been provided was made at the following council meeting with the suggestion that further discussion be delayed until Councilwoman Dana Bischoff James returned from her extended hiatus.
The written Agenda for the February 10, 2014 council meeting listed under the New Business, was a single sentence regarding SRO’s. The sentence read “Councilwoman Dana Bischoff James to have a video presentation on School Resource Officers.” No mention of a discussion of the matter or a vote to decide on hiring SRO’s. Before the video presentation was made, Councilwoman made a motion to approve the whole package.” The motion was immediately seconded by Councilman Jose Cubero. The video was then presented. Great concerns were expressed about where the necessary funding would come from. An explanation of how the funding could be derived by adjusting the line items within the Police Department budget was attempted to be made. Several council members wanted a written explanation of the adjustments and asked that discussion be resumed at the next council meeting after a written amended budget line items had been prepared. To the dismay of several council members, a copy of a two month old financial statement reviewing the Police Department monthly and annual expenses covered with a myriad of red colored scratches, figures, lines, and circles was then provided and the matter pushed to a vote within minutes.
Faced with a dilemma of having to make an impromptu decision regarding how a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer unbudgeted money would be used to best benefit our community over the next year with little more than illegible red colored figures scribbled on an outdated financial statement that we had a scant five minutes of time to review while being distracted by the heated debate raging in the room, we voted against the expenditure. We believe if the same incoherent procedure had been about spending money for roads, buildings, equipment, vehicles of any other non-emotional evoking issue, the majority most likely would have voted no as well. However, emotional pleas by Councilwoman Dana Bischoff James and Councilman Jose Cubero resonated the meeting hall calling for an urgent vote that every evening.
In no way do we disagree with the part of an ad recently published in The Pioneer News touting the importance of our youth and our innate desire to protect them. However, a qualified leader will not let emotion rule their mind when making a decision for the good of the entire community. We have little doubt that if it would not come with a price tag that simply is out of reach for our city, that the community and council would support any conceivable security measure to protect the children of our community. The simple fact is that the council was not presented with a reasonable situation to make a sound conclusion about the validity of the funding sources for hiring additional SRO’s and fully equipped police cars. It is our sincere hope future considerations of such significant expenditures be much better communicated, better planned, more orderly, and far more professionally executed. If any readers have any questions or comments, feel free to call us.
Shepherdsville City Council Members
Clinton Kline, Faith Portman & Bernard “Bernie" Brown