Perhaps the endless fight between Linn County supervisors and county Auditor Joel Miller has driven you to drink. If so, don’t expect the county to pay for it.
The latest tempest started last week as a blog post by Miller and then a Twitter skirmish between the auditor and Supervisor Ben Rogers. Rogers used a county credit card to purchase a $100 ticket to the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s formal gala the night before its grand opening in August. “Eat. Drink. Dance. Explore.” the invitation implored.
Miller’s problem is with the “drink” part. Complimentary beer and wine were provided, so Miller insisted that Rogers had broken a policy barring county employees from reimbursement for booze. That $100 ticket, Miller argued, included the cost of libations. So Rogers should refund a portion.
The Rod Pierson “Not So” Big Band played at the gala, but the county has no rule against jazz.
After some brief wrangling, Rogers cut the county a $10 check. More than enough to buy himself and the auditor a round of grudge-itinis. Uh, you drink yours first.
I like Miller when he’s an actual watchdog. But in this case, he seems more like one of those dogs that barks incessantly for no good reason. Drives you nuts. I should know, I have one.
It’s one thing to speak truth to power when it counts. It’s another to be a petty, picky dance chaperone. Do I smell beer on your breath? The auditor needs to pick his battles.
Still, why does a supervisor who just got a big raise feel a need for the county to pay his way to the ball?
Rogers says there is money in the county budget for supervisors to use on travel, conferences and events. “I bought a ticket to an event as an elected official supporting an organization that we fund. I did not purchase appetizers or drinks as Joel has alleged,” Rogers said in an email. The county, he says, supports the library to the tune of more than $80,000 annually.
Sure. But if the county gives at the office, why fork over another $100? If Rogers had paid for his own ticket, he could have deducted $70 from his taxes and drank hearty toasts to the auditor with no worries. Seems like that would have been better.
It’s just a wafer-thin C-note, I know. But after taking a $20,000-plus pay raise, and all the resulting public lumps, the supervisors should be more careful. If events have a clear public purpose or benefit for taxpayers, the county can pay. Eat, drink, dance and explore on your own dime.