A valuable reminder

Government employees often don’t get the credit they deserve

There was a bright moment in the otherwise dismal budget meeting of the Butte County Board of Supervisors Monday (May 18), thanks to a woman named Penny Louton, who lives in Gridley.

Louton had sat through three hours of discussion of the county’s proposed 2009-10 budget in order to speak to the supervisors on behalf of the county library. Like the many other library supporters in the audience, recognizable by the red shirts they wore, she had waited patiently as county staff had explained what had gone into crafting the budget.

She had also listened as, one by one, county department heads stepped to the lectern to explain the impacts budget cuts would have on their departments. She’d heard them talk of working with fewer employees, despite growing workloads and increased state mandates. She heard them mention old and outdated equipment that made their work more difficult, and of the dedication of their staffs when it came to serving the public.

And she heard each one of them promise that, regardless of the cuts being made to their departments, they and their staffers were determined to do the best job possible. The people of Butte County could count on them, they said.

When Louton finally got to the lectern, other pro-library speakers had already spoken for her. So instead she gave her observation, as someone who until then had been largely unfamiliar with county government, on what she had heard that day. She was impressed, she said, by the “thoughtfulness and compassion” of the department heads, by their dedication to their jobs, their employees and the county, in spite of the difficult times. She said they made her proud to live in Butte County.

Government employees often don’t get the credit they deserve. “Good enough for government work,” as the saying goes. What Louton learned, and eloquently expressed, is that our county employees are as hard-working and dedicated as the rest of us. And they too are feeling the effects of the recession. They’re working harder under more difficult circumstances and even, in some cases, losing their jobs. Our thanks to Penny Louton for reminding us of that.