This is an adage we're all familiar with; a saying we all have heard since childhood.
It's so universally accepted because it sets forth a general truth and has gained credit through long use.
It's too bad that the core lesson of this maxim seems to be beyond the comprehension of Vermillion City Alderman Roger Jeck.
At the last meeting of the Vermillion City Council, he made a feeble attempt to apologize for his conduct two weeks earlier, at the Nov. 19 council meeting.
Near the conclusion of that meeting, he attempted to block a routine city payment to the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company.
"Without a little more conversation from the city council, I'd like to table the payment to the chamber and the development company," he said near the end of the Nov. 19 meeting. "I'm not entirely comfortable with sending that amount of money. I understand that they need the money … but I think everyone on the council should hear a little bit more from the board (of the VCDC)."
Presently, it is no doubt safe to say that the VCDC office staff and its board are feeling a great deal of stress. In early November, financial discrepancies were discovered. The VCDC's office manager resigned.
The organization's board has enlisted the assistance of law enforcement and intends to hire an accountant to do a thorough review of all accounting records.
Jeck, in his capacity as a city alderman, also serves on the VCDC board. That's why it's particularly strange that he wanted to table a routine payment from the city to the organization.
Mysterious, too, is what he hoped to accomplish by withholding the funds. Does he somehow believe our community would best be served if we just boarded up the doors to the VCDC office?
Let's make one thing clear. The money we're talking about – the payment to the VCDC from the city that Jeck attempted to table – was approved by the city council last fall.
During the annual budgeting process that concluded in September 2006, the city council agreed to allocate $170,000 to the VCDC in 2007.
The city makes these payments on a quarterly basis. The VCDC had already received three fourths of this allocation. The remaining amount due to the organization for the final quarter of this year was $42,500.
Alderman Nathan Adams, noting that the payment is already budgeted, made a motion for its approval. The motion was seconded by Alderman Ray Hofman.
"I think the Chamber has a handle on what is going on," Alderman Jere Chapman said. "I think the board is very actively involved in making sure that things are being done right. We can't punish everybody for what maybe has happened."
"We don't know all of the details," he added. "I think it would be an unfair financial burden (to the VCDC), and therefore I think we should support the motion."
"From my position of being on the board, I'd like the city council to know a little bit more about what's going on," Jeck said two weeks ago, "and I don't know technically how that will work, but I'm comfortable that the money will be well spent. I'd feel more comfortable if city council members knew more," he said.
When discussion ended, Jeck was the only alderman to cast a negative vote on the issue.
Earlier this week, at the beginning of the city council's regular meeting, Jeck, looking about as comfortable as a hostage being videotaped by his captors, tried to aw-shucks his way out of the situation.
And, he almost, repeat almost, seemed to blame others for the effect of his actions.
"It was unfortunate that my comments from the last meeting were sort of, I don't know, spun into a different meaning," Jeck said Monday night. "I didn't mean to imply that I didn't have support for the Chamber and that I didn't want to send the money out there for that payment."
There was no spin. The Plain Talk accurately reported Jeck's actions from two weeks ago. And anybody attending the meeting, or watching the proceedings on cable television, could determine for themselves that Jeck wanted the payment tabled. Why else did he vote against a motion to approve the allocation?
"I'm sorry if it came out that way," he said.
It's a nice sentiment – one he shouldn't have had to make in the first place.
It looks like we all need to pay close attention to Jeck from now, especially as officials work to correct the internal problems in the Chamber office.
Jeck's actions from two weeks ago, you see, speak louder than his words.