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Just a Thought - Taxpayers looking at buying phones

Warren County commissioners are currently discussing the “need” to provide judicial commissioners with free smartphones, courtesy of county taxpayers.

First, need might be a strong word. By definition, a need is goods or services that are required such as food, clothing, shelter and health care. A need is a necessity. I don’t think that word fits in this situation. 

Why would all seven judicial commissioners – full and part time – need individual work-related cell-phones when only one person works at a time? That makes very little sense to me and sounds like a waste of taxpayer money. 

Warren County EMS supervisors use one work-related cellphone, because only one supervisor works at a time. If a supervisor is needed, everyone knows to call that number and the phone should be in the possession of the supervisor on duty at that time. Why can’t judicial commissioners do the same?

The only judicial commissioner that might need a work-related cellphone is David Williams. He’s the supervisor and in that department I’m sure he receives a lot of work-related calls on his personal cellphone on a regular basis, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 

Williams initially requested a $30-a-month stipend for his commissioners because they use their personal cellphones for work. I took that to mean all of them have cellphones. That completely eliminates the need. 

Some commissioners have turned that request into providing all judicial commissioners with smartphones, when I think they could share one phone. Whomever is on duty should pick it up at the jail and drop it off prior to their shift ending. That might be an extra couple trips to the jail that they’ll have to make. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. 

I used my personal cell for work for approximately 10 years, so I understand the desire for some sort of financial reimbursement. However, being a newspaper reporter, I’m also pretty much on call 24/7. I now have a work-related cellphone, but no personal phone. Half, if not more, of my calls and messages are work-related.

Having the city and county government beat, I receive calls and texts from elected officials at any hour of the day or night – weekdays and weekends. It’s part of the territory. Most officials do make an attempt to contact me at decent hours. However, I did receive a text at 2 a.m. once. I did reply my displeasure about the hour, given it wasn’t an emergency.

Just an FYI, I’m OK with anything between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week. That’s a 15-hour window for business. However, that window is extended for emergency situations that I need to be out covering. 

In a nutshell, if you have a career where they must be able to get hold of you anytime day or night, you need a work-related cellphone. People who work a set number of hours and they’re done until their next shift begins probably do not. 

Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.