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Are we just stirring the pot or do we have a point?

I bet you like it when politicians get upset with you, someone asked recently.

The question raised an interesting point about how some people view the newspaper and why newspapers write editorial opinions in the first place.

Somehow some people have the perception that people who write things in the newspaper must just love to stir things up and cause some trouble.

Those people believe that we take some strange pleasure out of being the occasional subject of a snide comment, a barb or good old fashioned shunning - that's when the politician plays the 5-year-old's game of "I don't see you."

Few editorial writers are purely masochistic. Most of them are just normal, average, run-of-the-mill folks who happen to work at newspapers.

These people do not enjoy the barbs and the insults. They don't enjoy publicity much at all.

So why do they write critical pieces that sometimes may infuriate politicians?

They do it for the greater good. When this newspaper says things questioning how Lawrence County spends taxpayer money, it isn't out of some kind of retribution to an officeholder or even a grudge against a county employee.

Anything we question or suggest is simply that: a question or a suggestion. The sole purpose is to improve the community or try to help it do the right thing.

Improving the community could be in suggesting that the next chief of the Ironton Police Department is selected more for what he or she brings to the table as a manager and a leader rather than which person scores the highest on a test.

Tests do a good job in determining how much information is absorbed, particularly in black and white kinds of fields such as mathematics.

Leadership, however, may be more difficult to judge in multiple choice.

In another example, we may suggest merging departments to save money as in the case of the county's 911 dispatchers and sheriff's office dispatchers.

When such duplications exist, eliminating the duplication of services and reducing the tax burden on county residents or increasing the services provided often can save money.

Does that make everyone happy? Absolutely not, particularly if you make your living as one of those "duplicates." And particularly not if you are an elected official who may be forced to actually make a tough decision.

But is merging the dispatching the right thing to do for the county given its tight budget? Probably so.

When managing editor Mike Caldwell and I sit down to write an editorial, we do so without trying to make everyone happy, but rather to help offer an opinion of what path we should take.

We certainly don't have all the answers and don't claim to. We simply express our opinions of what we think serves the greatest good.

The question remains: Do you like it when politicians are upset with you?

Obviously not, but we don't mind taking a few lumps for the team, or in the case, the community.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 12 or by e-mail to