A much-needed fix
Published 9:03 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It’s a common phrase, but it was one man who popularized the saying that is now used for a broad array of situations. That man was Bert Lance, director of the Office of Management and Budget under Jimmy Carter in 1977. Lance used it to describe what was wrong with government, and how he could save the country billions of dollars each year by refraining from fixing things that are not broken.
Technically, the phrase means that if something is working well, leave it alone.
It only makes sense — that is, unless something works on the surface, but invisible to the naked eye there lies a problem that, unless addressed, will only result in a larger, even worse, problem. It’s why preventative measures are taken: cars are taken in for inspections and tune ups; people go to their doctors for physicals; airplanes are given routine maintenance. That’s only to catch a problem before it turns deadly.
Lately, the people who work in the Beaufort County Courthouse — judges, attorneys, county employees — have met with county officials to discuss the security issue at the courthouse. Beaufort County is one of very few courthouses in the state that does not have a manned, single portal entry. That means just about every courthouse in the state — including Gates County, population 12,000, about ¼ of Beaufort County’s — funnels all courthouse visitors through one entrance, most often under the watchful eyes of law enforcement officers. This is a proactive approach to security, rather than reactive.
In a recent committee meeting, one county commissioner said security is fine at the courthouse. There’s no need to change anything, much less spend money correcting the problems with courthouse security. A refusal to acknowledge a problem does not mean that problem doesn’t exist.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply when it comes to the safety of county residents. Just outside the crosswalk of East Third Street, at the intersection of Market Street, there’s an uncovered foot-deep hole in the road. It’s a broken ankle waiting to happen. It hasn’t happened yet, but if left unfixed, it will.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to the Beaufort County Courthouse. The people who work there every day are very much aware of the uncovered foot-deep hole that represents courthouse security. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. It hasn’t happened yet, but if left unaddressed, it will.
Being proactive saves lives. It’s important that county officials recognize this and make decisions accordingly. It’s not just important; it’s their job.
In the case of courthouse security, there’s a steep price to be paid for adhering to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.