During the grass-roots effort to place the $18.8 million jail bond issue on the March ballot, on Nov. 4 KMOV quoted Alan Dunstan, the Madison County Board chairman: "Sometimes when you're in county government or any political office you have to make a decision for the people because you know more about the project than they know about the project." Dunstan went on to say, "Bonds on Ballots has every right to collect signatures, but the reason the board voted on the project is it would have failed."
One wonders if Dunstan's comments reveal a paternalistic attitude toward the public. Does Dunstan mean he needed to make a project decision for the voters because they know so little, or because they would have voted against his project? If it is because voters know too little, then thanks to Bonds on Ballots, Dunstan will have a chance to explain his idea to the public. This was Dunstan's responsibility in the first place; if voters didn't know enough, whose fault was that?
However, if Dunstan really knows the project will fail, then how does he know this? Doesn't he trust the public to make the right decision or is Dunstan unsure of his ability to explain his jail renovation project adequately? Maybe he has a crystal ball or visited a psychic.
I think voters are capable of making the right decision. All bond issues must appear on the ballot in Missouri and that state appears to function just fine.
Philip W. Chapman