The term civil servant needs enforcement by the voters in the community. Sometimes elected individuals view elections as receiving a royal title, but it is a job. In addition, frequently government workers desire autonomy.
Citizens must watch the actions of elected officials. Many times the elected official rubber-stamps the desires of employees. This occurs through consent agenda. A consent agenda is a list of items listed together and the board or commission takes one vote to pass the entire list. Usually a majority of the elected board can removes an item from the list so the item receives discussion and separate vote.
In the Franklin County Washington a low-income health care service, LaClinica operated for years in a questionable manner. The organization removed the C.E.O. because he had lied on his resume about his education level. This year the funds were track by the Regional Service Network and required that La Clinical replace funds within months. The next week the consent agenda had a renewal of contract for this organization. One Commissioner and another ratified that the commissioners needed to discuss whether safeguards were in place. During the previous week’s meeting, the Human Service Department had stated, the department had solved how and why the problem occurred. Many in the community did not accept the employees’ assurances, wrote letters, and communicated with Commissioners.
In the two years that the funds were in the general fund and not providing mental health services, many needed care. There were even suicides during the period and maybe if more services had been available prevention could have happened.
Communities need to require advisory boards as a gatekeeper between employees and elected officials. A major conflict of interest exists if a single employee can decide who receive contracts. If there is a process in which a contract goes through an advisory board of citizens who are not providers, it prevents favoritism between providers. In addition, the process keeps providers accountable to the consumers of services. The elected officials must select the board members. Employees’ hand selecting the advisory board provides the opportunity to stack the board.
Consumers who have services modified to serve the providers rather than the consumers might need to cope with change the condition makes difficult. The suffering of change on these individual can be intense. The employees may not hear of the suffering because of a feeling of indifference from the employees. An advisory board keeps everyone accountable and a feeling that a thorough evaluation occurred in selection of providers may assure the consumers that the best services available for the funds available.
Consumers, citizens and voters need to ensure the elected officials and employees do the jobs as paid through payroll or election. It means checking agendas and minutes, attending meetings of elected officials and advisory boards and writing to officials. Consumers live with the consequences.