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Editorial: Commissioners should take care in what they say

Hubbard County commissioners are among the hardest working, lowest paid officials in the state.

Their dedication is unparalleled. They sit on numerous committees and protect a wide variety of interests - senior citizens, the regional library and healthcare systems, environmental issues, the fair and Extension Services.

They take calls 24/7 and e-mails constantly from constituents. They are responsive to them.

So it was disappointing when the commissioners acted like good old boys at the July 7 Hubbard County Board of Commissioners bi-monthly meeting.

The meeting deteriorated when Assistant County Attorney Erika Randall announced she would be taking maternity leave in November.

That prompted guffaws of mock disbelief at the obviously pregnant woman: "How'd that happen?"

"They say you get pregnant when you use your spouse's toothbrush," said one commissioner who should have known better.

"Have you used his toothbrush?"

"No comment," Randall replied, obviously trying to keep her cool.

"Is this gonna happen often?" queried the county coordinator.

It went on and on.

Citizens should request a copy of the tape recording to hear the rest. It doesn't bear repeating here.

Suffice it to say, the board sometimes engages in tasteless jokes and bad humor. But this went much farther.

This is the kind of behavior that can get a workplace sued. And guys, the county boardroom is your workplace, in case you've forgotten.

You would not tolerate one of the employees you supervise exhibiting this kind of behavior, so you should lead by example.

Randall, to her credit, exhibited class when faced with this barrage of lowbrow comments.

She tried to steer the conversation back to where it started - the necessity for the county to hire a third full-time prosecutor.

Every commissioner shares in the blame, whether he voiced a comment or not. Not a single man stepped in to say, "knock it off" or to stop the laughter.

It's conversations like this that undermine the good works the board does and give it a reputation it may not deserve.

So next time an ill-conceived bit of humor spontaneously arises, zip it.

Because good old boys can get counties in trouble when they make thoughtless remarks.