In this column every week, I have the honor and privilege of recognizing valuable volunteers and their dedicated service to our community. However, I must admit, I am deeply concerned about the chilling effect recent developments might have on our beloved volunteer corp as highly qualified individuals decide if community service is actually worth it. When elected members of our City Council launch personal attacks on individuals serving Carmel and intensify the intended damage by dragging the employee’s employer into the mud as well, someone must say enough is enough. In their zeal to prove a point or disagree with decisions already made, a line protecting personal integrity must not be crossed. By any standard, this unacceptable behavior should not be allowed to continue and we are obligated to speak out vigorously against it.
Politics can be a dirty game and those who seek public office ought to be aware of that fact. But, I argue, unpaid and unelected men and women giving countless hours of their spare time to serve on the 20 plus Boards and Commissions, would not expect their own public, elected officials to launch personal attacks questioning their intelligence, integrity or motivation.
Not too long ago the volunteer Park Board came under fire from some on the City Council who were questioning the Board Member’s ability to lead the Monon Center to financial viability. And although the premature judgment of those City Councilors was improperly vetted in the media, the Board stuck to its plan and our Monon Center is now a model for other communities throughout the United States to follow. During and after this needless exercise, it seemed apparent that the only reason certain Council members posed these questions was to stir political controversy.
The pattern we are seeing as exemplified in the current controversy regarding the CRC is what is most disturbing. I would agree that public discussion of varied opinions results in a better community. However, we need to put an end to the direct personal attacks maligning the integrity of our trusted volunteers. These highly successful professionals who serve on our boards and commissions bring a wealth of knowledge with them as they seek the best path forward for our community. They live here, pay taxes and want what is best for their families just like anyone else. We should not tolerate the bullying tactics meant to sway public opinion against them and instead, graciously appreciate their enthusiasm and contribution to our community.