Our local government theft cases are truly disheartening. Though it is absolutely necessary, it brings no pleasure at all to type an ugly headline on the computer screen above the mugshot of someone I’ve known for quite some time, like I did this week for Michelle Dills.
We frequently called upon her for information about the city for the newspaper. And like most clerks, she was the person who knew the in’s and out’s of daily government business. She was always very kind and helpful to us in that regard.
So, it is personally a gutwrenching thing to see someone fall from public grace, like I did this week. There was a clear sadness in that Danielsville meeting room Monday night after that awful news.
Nevertheless, outrage is the understandable and appropriate emotion from the public when those entrusted with taxpayer money choose to pocket it. That’s a primary price of such an action, that awful, ugly reaction.
And many Madison County folks are wondering these days: what’s with all the government theft?
We have a former probate office employee, Cana Chambers, awaiting trial for allegedly staging a break-in at the office to cover up her theft of funds.
We had a former BOC deputy clerk, Melinda Spence, arrested in April for allegedly stealing money found in the office of the late Eloise McCurley. We ran a story this week about Spence’s subsequent approval for unemployment benefits. County commissioners appealed those benefits and they were ultimately overturned.
Now, we’re waiting for the foot to drop on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into at least $80,000 in missing funds in the county commissioners’ office.
Whose name will surface in this?
Whose mug will we publish this time?
We also have a county deputy and Colbert council member, Jeff Roberts, charged with sending sexually explicit emails to a minor.
It’s hard to write, hard to watch, hard to hear such things. Presenting bad news is a very unpleasant job.
And there seems to be a storm of bad news on all fronts. We feel a darkness descending, see those strange clouds on the horizon with ominous hues.
We wait now for some word out of Washington to put our minds at ease. We tiptoe around the “Great Depression,” trying not to rouse it from its 70-year slumber.
Locally, we see the foreclosures, gas shortages, the crime, the loss of jobs.
As times get tougher, there will be more and more pressure on people to take questionable paths. I hope anyone in local government considering theft will see the futility in it, see that they will not find reward, but terrible suffering.
And as our economic worries grow more intense, I hope people will recognize that we are all being issued a challenge right now to look at ourselves.
This is truly a time to recognize the darker nature that exists in each of us — and to fight it. We all have the makings of real ugliness.
The most difficult days will be endured with the better part of our nature, the part that helps pull others up.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.