Balancing act in Belleville

October 10, 2013 

One of the greatest benefits of political diversity is that it helps keep the other side honest. The finger-pointing over politicking at Belleville City Hall is a wonderful example of that.

Prior to the recent Belleville Township special election, a city worker sent out an e-mail to some coworkers urging them to attend the meeting at which the vote would be held. That prompted a public complaint, and City Clerk Dallas Cook called for an investigation.

The city attorney is checking to see whether the email violated state law. Whether it was or wasn't legal, it clearly wasn't appropriate. Taxpayers pay workers' salaries so they can conduct city business, not electioneer.

Because the Good Government Party has ruled as long as it has in Belleville, the lines are blurred about what is and isn't appropriate on work time. That probably explains the worker's poor judgment, but we're not sure how to explain Cook's, who is an independent.

He recently spoke at a political demonstration outside the St. Clair County building on a work day, prompting a counter complaint by a Belleville resident.

Cook doesn't see a problem with his participation, and as an elected official it's his choice. Still, if he is going to criticize similar behavior and wants to be seen as credible, he needs to make sure he stays above reproach.

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