Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Opinion: Lexington fails test on village property use

We are very concerned that the Village of Lexington is taking so lightly the case of its police chief spending village money on non-village business.

While the circumstances Brett Pauley put himself in certainly are salacious, they illustrate the lack of any standard to protect the village from those who are willing to take advantage of village resources.

Mayor Gene Parkinson’s statement about the matter is very troubling.

“While we don’t like it, we didn’t find anything criminal,” Parkison said in response to findings from a News Journal investigation of Pauley’s relationship with a woman who worked for the village.

Cell phone and e-mail records dating to May 2005 show Pauley exchanged thousands of communiques while on duty. The relationship ended in October 2009.

Pauley used his computer and cell phone to carry on his conversations at taxpayer expense.

Granted, any employer expects his employees to use company equipment for some personal use once in a while. Kids call their dads at work, company cars are taken home on the weekend, etc.

But Pauley’s actions clearly crossed the line and the village seems reluctant to examine this situation and make changes to its policy.

Additionally, this isn’t a private company. It is a local government that is put in place by voters who expect a level of service and professionalism in return for the taxes they pay.

At the very least, the village should investigate its policy on the personal use of village equipment.

To the village’s credit, the situation does seem to have brought a raised level of consciousness.

“I’ve spent more sleepless nights with this (situation) than almost anything in the last 30 years,” Parkinson said. “I just don’t have a black-and-white issue here. What I have is very gray.”

Simply feeling bad is not enough. We urge the city to re-examine its personnel policies to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

We urge village leaders to step up, take responsibility, get in front of this issue and restore confidence to the residents of Lexington.