In the great grand scheme of things, a couple thousand dollars out of a city budget is “chump change.”

But in the recent case of “Volunteer-Gate” at the Government Center, it’s a matter of who, or whom, the “chump” is being made out to be.

Of course, I’m referring to the recent revelation that the city of Corsicana honored some folks for what it called “volunteer work” doing some much-needed weed eating and such at a city cemetery, when in fact the folks who did the work were paid.

This has nothing to do with paying the folks who did the work. They did it, and deserve to be paid. Should be the end of the story.

What happened at the council meeting Sept. 4 changed all that.

Explanations forthcoming to date have raised more questions than they have provided answers to what shouldn’t be a big deal. But, “no comment,” “we didn’t know,” and “passing the buck” have raised more than a couple of eyebrows in the matter. And, rightfully should.

It boils down to this — what did the city know, who knew it, and when did they know it.

I doubt that a check for a couple thousand dollars gets written unless at least a few people knew. And, I doubt that unless someone at the city knew what was happening, and what it would cost, there wouldn’t have been any work done to receive the aforementioned dollars, and the special recognition awards for volunteers presented Sept. 4. And, if we knew who was to be awarded the volunteer certificates, far enough in advance of the Sept. 4 meeting to get the certificates prepared — how, when and from whom at the city did we get that information?

The “official” word on the incident — “an honest mistake.”

I believe that statement is “half” right. It was a mistake.

I’m not saying it was a “dishonest” mistake.

I am saying we don’t have the whole story.

Until we do, we’re being asked to believe that it is OK for the city to make mistakes when spending our tax dollars. At least, that is the official explanation to this point.

And I don’t think any of us want to believe that.

Just lay it on the line, people. Tell us what really happened.

In public.

On the record.

Backed up with the paperwork involved.

Or, was there no paperwork, just a verbal “cut a check” order?

Don’t think so.

I believe someone at the city knew what was going on far enough in advance to have put a stop to the ceremony on Sept. 4 — making this whole issue non-existent.

Or, was that the “honest mistake?”

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Bob Belcher is Assistant Editor of the Daily Sun. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at belcher@corsicanadailysun.com.

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