Saturday, September 30, 2023

EDITORIAL: Fay's way a blueprint for trustee integrity

| August 30, 2023 1:00 AM

In 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president.

An invention called Post-it Notes hit the market.

The space shuttle Columbia made its maiden voyage.

And Fay Sweeney joined the Coeur d’Alene Library’s board of trustees.

In case you missed Bill Buley’s excellent story about Fay on Sunday’s front page, Sweeney will walk away, head held high, from 42 years on the library board on Sept. 30. This Friday is the deadline for applicants who would like to try on Fay’s gigantic shoes.

But prospective applicants should heed something Fay told Buley — the most essential element of the job description for library board trustee.

That single statement is either completely misunderstood or flagrantly ignored by the trustee majorities on both the North Idaho College and Community Library Network boards.

“Our role is to set policy, not to meddle in the management of the library,” Fay said.

There are differences between the organizations, clearly. Coeur d'Alene Library is part of the city's operations and budget, not a taxing entity like CLN or NIC. Coeur d'Alene's library trustees are appointed, not elected.

But the policy-setting edict, coupled with the concept of leaving management to the people on the payroll, heads the job description of all three. And it's ignored by two of them.

NIC's and CLN's board majorities are masters of the art of meddling, exercising levels of authority that simply don’t belong to them. All six of those trustees have agendas, and the agendas have little to do with wisely overseeing the public institutions voters have entrusted to them.

Keep this in mind, please, with other nonpartisan elections heading your way this fall, including city council and school board races.

The deadline for candidates to file for the Nov. 7 elections is next Friday, Sept. 8, at 5 p.m., and already, the political machine responsible for crowning unqualified people for the NIC and CLN boards has assembled a cast of similarly ill-equipped, agenda-driven prospects.

So what’s the solution? Quite simply, it’s to support people like Fay Sweeney: those who are intelligent, considerate and diligent in executing the duties of a particular public service through setting policy; not pandering to political interests or promoting personal beliefs in the pursuit of power they were never intended to wield.

The Press joins the chorus of praise that Fay Sweeney has earned over the years, and hopes there are more like her ready to strengthen our vital institutions rather than tear them down.

Recent Headlines