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KATIE ZERR: ‘Kicking the can down the road’ causes problems

There are several ways of thinking when it comes to taking actions.
We can plod along, ignoring a problem, hoping things will get better if we don’t shake things up. We can put up with unsatisfactory behavior only to end up working harder and longer to make up for that behavior.
Or we “kick the can down the road” until something bad happens and we are forced to make a decision to resolve the problem. When we are forced by some problem to deal with the issue, we sometimes make rash decisions that can have a negative impact.
We have seen this happen time and time again on the federal level, the state level and on the local level.
Mobridge is suffering now because of our legislature’s lack of action on the health care provider reimbursement issue. For years they listened to the national leaders and did nothing to help local care providers with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. They refused to accept that what they were hearing from the national politicians was not what was really happening. They “kicked the can down the road” for years until communities, families and friends were torn apart by the closing of facilities such as the Mobridge care center.
When the reality of this lack of action by the legislature hit the state, some in our government looked to Washington to help. What we got in return was a dismissive attitude of “that is a state problem.” We are now without a place in which our elders had a home and the care they required.
Walworth County is embroiled in an issue that has been simmering for years but now have boiled over and must be dealt with.
The county jail has been a problem for many years. We thought a solution had been found when the new addition was built in 1999. But true to our fiscally conservative form, shortcuts were taken and the resulting building was subpar from nearly the beginning. There was not much thought to the future and we are stuck with a building that presents problems for nearly all of the proposed plans to renovate or rebuild.
We have “kicked this can down the road” for years and now our backs are against the wall. We are forced to deal with an issue that is causing immediate problems that could really harm our county.
On the local level, not dealing with a sticky situation that has caused the city council much heartburn in the last four years, is now causing problems that are on the verge of creating a situation from which it will be difficult to recover.
For several years, leadership in the Mobridge Fire Department thumbed its nose at the requests by the city for reports, financial disclosures and acknowledgement of policy changes. When the pot finally boiled over, leadership changes had been made at the department. But the council and city administration had been dealing with the issue for a long time and had become fed up.
Miscommunications, perceived notions and bitter feelings now control the relationship between the city and fire department. The actions of new leadership are under close scrutiny and the council is not letting out any leash line when it comes to getting what they request.
They are treating this leadership like they should have treated the leadership that caused the problems.
One can’t blame the city for losing patience, but it is baffling that they were too patient for four years but can’t wait but a couple months of the new leadership before making drastic moves that cause even more distrust and bad feelings between the two groups.
Tuesday’s council meeting was a perfect example. The council has every right to take an action they thought could solve a problem, but making this move would widen the gap between the city and the fire department and was not their brightest hour.
As the meeting went on and the push for hiring a full-time city employee that would act as the fire chief and ordinance and nuisance officer began to look as though it would pass, dread seeped in.
Our council was making this move without any input from firefighters. They did not talk to the men who are on the front lines, who know what it takes to put their lives on the line for the safety of our residents and our community. Instead, the city came up with an idea that they thought would ease the problem only to make it worse.
If the feeling in the room from residents and fire fighters was any indication, this was a bad move by the city and one that needed a little more research before moving forward.
Thankfully cooler heads on the council tabled any action until after a Wednesday meeting with the fire department.
Citizens in Mobridge are fortunate that they are provided with the opportunity to view video of these meetings. That is not always the case in other communities and counties. The video of this meeting and all other council meeting can be viewed through the Tribune website at by clicking on the video tab at the top right hand of the page.
– Katie Zerr –