Arrow-right Camera


Some Officials Do Work For Public

Thu., July 6, 1995

A Rathdrum woman discovered public service is alive after she penned a biting list last December, cataloguing what she wanted from her 12 days of Christmas. Marilyn Roberge’s wish list included:

“Eleven fewer bureaucrats basking in the Bahamas on my tax dollars.”

“Eight fewer potholes on Highway 41, north of Rathdrum, seven of which I seem to hit every time.”

“And a congressman who truly gives a damn.”

Tom Baker, Idaho Transportation Department regional director, couldn’t do anything about basking bureaucrats or caring congressmen. But potholes are his specialty.

His crews quickly covered the problem, causing an appreciative Roberge to write to The Spokesman-Review recently: “I’d never seen such serious filling of the potholes on that heavily used and abused stretch of highway.”

Baker typifies the term “public servant,” which almost has been abandoned in these uncivil times of government bashing. He’s a person dedicated to working for the public, not against it. He’s not alone either.

Less than a year after becoming Kootenai County planning director, Cheri Howell has slashed expenses, cut staffing nearly 25 percent and reduced her annual budget by $161,765 - while maintaining high office morale.

Howell learned to treat all money as her own while working for a family-owned clothing store in Spokane. Now, she’s taken that maxim into the public sector, hoping to convince residents “one person at a time” that government is working for them.

Howell could serve as the poster child for the new Kootenai County Board of Commissioners, which emphasizes such old-fashion business concepts as customer service, cost consciousness and communication.

Howell and Baker believed in serving the public - even before November’s upheaval changed the way American government did business. They and public servants like them deserve respect and appreciation.

In her letter of appreciation, Rathdrum’s Roberge noted that Baker didn’t stop after his crews filled the highway potholes. Later, he responded to her complaint about a dangerous intersection, north of Twin Lakes, and now is seeking money to fix it.

Wrote Rathdrum’s Roberge: “We’re all so quick to criticize and blame our bureaucrats. We should be equally enthusiastic about giving them a pat on the back when it’s deserved.”

Now, about that congressman who gives a damn …

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

Click here to comment on this story »