Politics and People

This week in the news we read about Rudy Guiliani saying President Obama doesn’t love his country, a local official apparently didn’t pay his taxes on time and accusations leveled against me.

So what is fair game?  I have come to grips with the fact that I’m legally considered a public figure.  I guess that means that things I do are of more interest to people.  That makes sense, I guess, because the taxpayers pay my salary.

It’s part of the job, what I signed up for.  Same is true for the other guys I mentioned.

I think it’s only fair though, that the criticisms be true, they be related to the job the person holds and they are not attacks on the official’s family.

Believe it or not, people elected or appointed to public office are still people.  We have families and friends who love and care about us and who are often hurt more than we are when the attacks fly.

When it comes to the attacks on me, the problem is they are not true. I have never used one dollar of taxpayer funds to get anything personal for myself or any of my staff. The expenditures that have been listed are all things that I paid personally.

Just as importantly, the accusations are not coming from the people who monitor my budget and credit card usage, they are coming from outside critics.

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to fiscal responsibility, I have saved the county more than $50,000 in the two years that I have been in office compared to my predecessor.   This is without considering all of the lawsuits and grievances that the county had to pay to defend and settle during those years.

I believe that by working smart and reorganizing,  we have accomplished more with less.

I am the first to say that I had a lot to learn coming into this office having not worked in County government before. I am grateful to the other department heads, the commissioners and our coordinator for their patience and help.

I can honestly say that I have worked my hardest every day to be fair and just, to protect victims in our county and to hold offenders accountable and also to be fair with the people who work with me.

My staff and police officers who work with me know that I have an open door policy and that I am always ready to explain any decision that I or any of my assistants have made.  

I have tried very hard to treat everyone fairly and to be open and honest even with those who may disagree with me.

Some people would prefer that I not be the prosecutor and I understand that.  I did not get 100% of the votes in 2012 and do not expect to get 100% in 2016.

For those who demand a perfect person in this position, you will need to look elsewhere. I have honestly tried my best every day, knowing that I and my staff make mistakes.

The challenge is try not to repeat the same mistakes and acknowledge our shortcomings.

Like I tell my baseball team, we want to keep improving so that we are playing our best baseball at the end of the season. Similarly I am a better prosecutor than I was two years ago today.

Do I need to keep improving? Of course. But have I been dishonest or deceitful or made decisions out of malice or for the wrong reasons?  No.

So if hear a complaint about me or my office I ask that you make sure the facts are accurate.  My door is always open and I spend much of my time meeting with citizens talking about cases that have happened in our county.  If you have a question about a case all you need to do is call me.  Obviously I cannot disclose confidential information but in most cases I can address the concern.  Sometimes these conversations enlightened me because I am not aware of every case that goes through my office since we have over 1,200 per year.

In my experience public officials are good people who are trying to do the right thing but they are not perfect or infallible.  They get in trouble when they start to think that they are always right.

Factual, job related critiques are needed.  They hold us accountable.  Baseless or personal attacks do nothing but keep good people from running for or staying in public office.

About Allen Telgenhof

Allen Telgenhof is the Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney; he has been an attorney since 1989 and a high school baseball coach since 2005. Graduated from Clio High School, Michigan State University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Proud father of Ty, Ally, Will and Lou and husband to Erin.
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