By Kathi Bliss
One of the most dangerous parts of elected service, I expect, is trying to integrate your own thoughts and ideas into processes and systems that you think aren’t working correctly. I can see that. As humans, we tend to resist change; we seem to like doing things “the way they have always been done.”
So naturally, it must be troubling for an elected official to run for office on the basis of helping the constituents and making changes to “the way things have always been done….”
Especially when elected servants think that “the way things have always been done” isn’t working.
There does come a point, however, where it seems less like trying to make positive changes, and more like micromanaging. That’s the cliff the Caldwell County Commissioners Court is teetering on, in trying to determine the appropriate procedure for asking for and confirming volunteer appointments to the numerous volunteer boards and commissions for which the Commissioners are asked to confirm members.
After a month or more of discussing the topic, I’m worried that the Commissioner are, in effect, complicating something that doesn’t need to be complicated. What’s more, some of the Commissioners appear to be overlooking the fact that most of volunteer organizations in our community have a difficult enough time finding volunteers to serve.
In no way will an exhaustive application and interview process make that search any easier. In fact, such a process will likely drive away the handful of volunteers that ARE willing to serve.
I do understand Commissioner Buchholtz’s point, that oftentimes people do not realize that appointments to certain boards or commissions will be available. Often, the Commissioners are asked to “rubber-stamp” appointments at the last moment. Both of those things are problems, I’ll agree with that.
However, the fix does not need to be a complex application procedure – a procedure that, at last reading, made it sound like it would be more difficult to gain Top Secret Security Clearance from the Pentagon than to get a seat in the Caldwell County Historical Commission.
So I’d like to make a suggestion to Commissioner Buchholtz and the rest of the Court. How about we just keep it simple.
Presently, the Court does not have a comprehensive list of the boards to which they appoint individuals, the names of the people appointed, and the dates those appointments expire. That would be a good place to start.
That way, at least the Commissioners would know what they are dealing with, and the public would know what commissions and boards are out there.
After that list is compiled, the Court should work with the organizations to determine one boilerplate application, which allows the volunteer to suggest which board they would like to serve. Keep a list of those applicants and their interests, and then distribute them to the appropriate organizations.
And then… when appointments come up, they would have a handy list of folk who might be interested in those appointments.
Simple. Streamlined. Done.
It’s not necessary to burden the organizations with a requirement to advertise a position six weeks before an appointment term, keep track of bulky application packets with up to five letters of reference, or do any of the other cumbersome things the Court has discussed. It’s simply not necessary.
And as someone who has served on a number of volunteer boards and commissions, I have to be honest and say that if I’m asked to fill out that much paperwork and jump through that many hoops to volunteer my time and labors to the betterment of this community… I’d rather not. There are other volunteer opportunities that are easy to be had.
I’d be surprised if many people thought much differently.
So please, Gentlemen… Just keep it simple. Don’t burden your volunteer base by asking for more information than you need, and don’t burden your organizations by asking them to wade through a mountain of paperwork in an effort to find someone to serve.
Please. Just keep it simple.