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Opening Arguments

Thrown out at the plate

A good example from South Bend of the anger that's been building in the public over politicians at all levels. The Tribune newspaper there did a story pointing out that County Council member Heath Weaver had attended only two meetings so far this year and only five in the last 10 months, racking up by far the worst attendance record of any council member. The reporter talked to the councilman, who said he would not resign because he would not "miss any more meetings." He then offered the usual excuse:

I have too many other things on my plate that are a priority right now," he said, explaining he teaches summer school at both Riley High School and Bendix School, is faculty adviser for the Adams Mock Trial Team, and coaches his two 6-year-old daughters in soccer.

He added that one of his daughters is adopted from India and that acclimating her to her new home and culture has taken "a tremendous amount of time."

That "plate too full" line really brought out the "cry me a river" sarcasm in the comments. This one is typical: "Hey Heath, are you reading all of these comments on the big story about your dereliction of duty? Guess what...those who elected you don't care about your 'plate.' We all have full plates." There were also plenty of calls for Weaver to resign and pay back the salary he didn't earn. As a part-time council member, he gets only $12,600, so the anger seems to come more from the principle of the thing rather than the amount.

Weaver must have understood the anger or changed his mind about being able to attend all the meetings, because he did resign after all. The story represents both a good public service by a newspaper and the kind of investigative reporting a blogger could easily do, so throw it into the new/old media debate, too.