Stop Excusing Massive Waste

As the Marshall County Board of Education continues to hear complaints about the new Cameron High School, many taxpayers probably wonder whether anyone will ever be held accountable.

Too often when taxpayers’ money is being misspent, such questions are answered in the negative. Why is it that no one ever seems to be at fault?

In Cameron, the new school came in around $500,000 over budget and about a year later than the completion date initially set. Problems continue to plague the building, though school system officials seem to be working steadily to get them resolved.

One reason why officials seem reluctant to talk much about the situation is the tangle of lawsuits involving the school district and various contractors on the project. Once those are settled, perhaps some answers will be forthcoming – and someone will be held accountable.

Unfortunately, that often does not happen in such situations. Lawsuits are settled quietly and with nondisclosure agreements that keep important information from the public.

Marshall County Board of Education members should not allow that to happen this time. Once the legal wrangling is over, a full report on who was to blame and what was done about it should be released.

At least Marshall County school officials are doing something. That cannot be said for state government.

Remember the Interstate 70 tunnel project? Originally meant to be a $5.5 million renovation, the project ballooned to $14.4 million and involved years of delays. No one in government was held accountable.

More recently, the state wasted millions of dollars on Internet network routers far too complex for the public facilities where they were to be installed. State officials termed that a learning experience.

Even worse is the $38 million project to upgrade emergency communications towers throughout West Virginia. State Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato and Office of Emergency Medical Services communications director Joe Gonzalez refused to follow state bidding procedures for part of the project. “Things obviously weren’t done legally,” Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said.

Yet Gianato and Gonzalez remain in their jobs.

Sometimes it seems that in government, no one ever makes a mistake or intentionally breaks the rules. No one ever loses their job.

In the end, the only people who lose are taxpayers. That is wrong – and West Virginians should stop putting up with it.