When I read the November 17 article regarding the $748,000 in outdated drain assessments, I immediately contacted our former Deputy Drain Commissioner and asked her to comment. She informed me that the article was misleading; only a small part of that figure could be considered outdated. She also detailed the incident with the incorrect assessment map for Youngs Intercounty Drain, and explained how long-term drain assessments work. In 30 minutes, I had information that it took the Argus Press most of a week to figure out.
Since that article was published, our former drain staff has endured speculation about their competence and integrity. One manifestation of this was the November 20 editorial by Tony Hornus, in which he stated, “the accounting chores rest solely on the shoulders of the drain office staff – and primarily the deputy drain commissioner.” Of everyone mentioned in the editorial, our former Deputy Drain Commissioner was the only person who was not either on record at a public hearing, or contacted by the paper for comment.
Several weeks ago, our former Deputy Drain Commissioner wrote an article titled “Can We Clear The Air?” This article explained the problem with the Youngs Intercounty Drain, and it gave examples of other problems between the Drain Office and the Spicer Group. The article was published in print and on several websites, and it was submitted to the Argus Press for publication as well. Someone on the Argus staff must have remembered reading this article. There is just no excuse for the way the paper has handled this matter.
Our former drain officials were responsible for several million dollars during their time in office. Of that, only $132,000 is now considered outdated. Included in that figure are long term drain assessments, and assessments that former Drain Commissioner Bernie Butcher refused to levy until the Spicer Group corrected their assessment maps. Our former drain staff did a good job.
This has been irresponsible and harmful reporting by The Argus Press. Tony Hornus and the rest of the staff should apologize.