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Rush to judgement has bad smell to it

POSTED: May 17, 2013 12:07 a.m.

Often, sometimes too often, we like to paint the picture of the sides to an issue as good guys vs. bad guys. It helps us identify which side to support in an argument or a contest or a confrontation.

We know this much — David Crawley is a good guy. We also know this — Patrice Crawley is a good woman.

Because of that, we also believe that what is happening to them, their reputations and essentially their livelihoods, is reprehensible, and it smacks of vindictiveness.

David and Patrice have been steadfast servants of the county. Their dedication to their jobs and to their community has been forthright.

There has been no indication that either David or Patrice Crawley had any control or took any money from an account that was receiving county money.

It’s also interesting how some commissioners received a look at the unfinished — albeit several months late — and unsubmitted audit before the rest of the board and before any issues that might be raised in there had a chance to be addressed.

Not too long ago, we opined that the county commission was dysfunctional. Some commissioners took to social media outlets to broadcast that it wasn’t so in a vehement fashion, even if those posts did not get to the heart of the matter, that the board was operating in a splintered and fractious capacity. Frankly, it helped prove our point and the attempts to deride our opinions were risible themselves.

To play devil’s advocate, if it wasn’t dysfunctional before — and it was — then what is it now? If this naked power play by commissioners doesn’t put a bad face on the county, then what does?

The Crawleys are getting painted by certain commissioners with allegations not yet presented to them. They haven’t been given a chance to defend themselves against these claims.

We’ve heard our own set of rumors and allegations, too, such as a commissioner said to have "stormed out" of executive session meetings, even declaring "I quit" before other board members attempted to talk said commissioner into staying. Will that be in the audit?

When the Crawleys were married, we asked a county commissioner if there was a problem with that. It raised our eyebrows, but it was explained that David answers to the commissioners and Patrice answers to the commissioners. He didn’t hire her and he is not her direct supervisor. It might be parsing the issue, but they are separate if not equal employees, both answerable to the commissioners.

Even Crawley himself chastised commissioners recently, telling them he provides information during executive sessions but not all commissioners are paying attention, with some of them involved in their own side conversations.

He also has cajoled and urged commissioners to address several long-standing issues, especially with subdivisions whose developers have since been shuttered. Those matters, which were present when the current commissioners took office, remain waiting. Mr. Crawley has been a staunch advocate of the county’s position in some difficult and complex negotiations, particularly the service delivery agreements that eventually ironed out and more recently, how to divide the local sales option tax, or LOST, receipts.

But the recent actions have, as county commission Chairman Wendall Kessler said last week, made potential business investors anxious about either locating or expanding in Effingham County. The mantra of making Effingham business-friendly seems to have been turned on itself in this instance.

And what if the Crawleys, either separately or together, are absolved of wrongdoing? What happens to those who painted them with such a picture of malfeasance in office? Does anything happen to their reputations?

We hope and trust that two good people and two good servants of the county eventually will be vindicated and their reputations will be restored. If there is compelling and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the Crawleys, either together or individually, have been negligent in their duties and their responsibilities, we will condone efforts made to correct the situations.

But we also believe they deserve a chance to be heard and confront the accusations.

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