Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Commenting on AZ immigration law is NOT county business

I don't know why it is that so many politicians think they have to take a public stand on issues that don't impact them or their constituents. Perhaps it's because so many 'special interest groups' insist upon it? But whatever the reason, it doesn't surprise me that the Lucas County Commissioners decided to pass a resolution condemning Arizona's new immigration law.

As a commissioner, I vigorously opposed such actions. I repeatedly told my fellow commissioners that if they wanted to express their opinion on such matters, they were certainly welcome to hold a press conference and share with the public their personal views on anything, including actions by other jurisdictions.

I insisted that the role of the Commissioners was the governing of the county and passing such resolutions was not something the 'Board' should be concerned with - especially when you considered all the other statutory obligations we had.

I also pointed out that, absent a poll or some other survey of all residents in the county, it would be highly presumptuous of us to *assume* that our opinions were the same as the rest of the county. And even if we found general agreement on certain issues, it was a given that there would be significant portions of our constituents who objected either in whole or in part, so we could not properly 'represent' all of them by taking a position. Besides, it still all came back to the fact that a formal action by the board on such matters was completely outside our role as Commissioners.

These were pretty successful arguments as the number of these types of resolutions certainly declined during my term on the board.

But with three politicians, who all happen to be Democrats, too eager to cater to small special interests, these types of resolutions seem to permeate our county and Toledo governments.

And that's something else, we need to pay attention to. How many other cities, villages, and townships in Lucas County decided to stick their noses into the business of other jurisdictions? This type of action is rarely seen in the other jurisdictions in the county, so we should ask ourselves 'why?'

Is it because those other jurisdictions are focused on their statutory responsibilities? Is it because they realize that it's a pointless act, other than to cater to a very small special interest? Is it because they're too busy with taking care of their roads and keeping their governmental costs down?

These are all good questions, I know.

On Monday, Comm. Ben Konop addressed a Rotary Club to promote his idea of changing to a county charter government. (You can review my prior articles on this subject here, here, here, and here.)

In his speech, he highlighted the problems of Lucas County - problems that have existed here for a number of years:

Mr. Konop's presentation showed Lucas County ranks high in rates of unemployment, poverty, bankruptcy, and migration out of the state and has lower median income than the state overall.

"There is really no shortage of disturbing economic trends to report on for Lucas County," Mr. Konop said.

Lucas County's jobless rate was the highest of Ohio's six largest counties for each of the 12 months ending in April, the most recent period available, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Now, he didn't explain how changing the form of government will give us different decisions about how to address these things, but that's beside the point.

With these types of concerns, issues, problems, etc... why in the world are the commissioners spending any time whatsoever addressing something in a city over 1,600 miles away???

They shouldn't. But they did. And this is just another reason why switching our form of government won't change anything in this county. We'll just get more of the same type of philosophy exhibited by these three commissioners: that taking a position on an Arizona law is something the county government should do, instead of what it's mandated to do.

But won't all those small special interests be happy and keep electing them to office?

In the meantime, the problems in the county will continue ... 'fiddling while Rome burns' comes to mind.

5 comments:

skeeter1107 said...

Maggie,

Sure it's not county business, but it's so much easier spending time on the irrelevant than to do the hard work the County desperately needs.

James said...

It is typical political grandstanding, much like Columbus' mayor doing the same thing. Nothing but noise.

navyvet said...

Stuck O S is alive and well in Toledo/Lucas Cnty/NW Ohio.....

Stephanie said...

wondering if you'd have the same opinion if it were gays, gypsies or Jews being discriminated against like in Germany before the war?

Maggie Thurber said...

Stephanie - first of all, no one is being discriminated against. I've read the Arizona law and compared it to federal law. There is very little difference between the two and I found no discrimination in either law.

But to the more pertinent part of your question, NO, the subject matter of the issue does not change the role of the board of county commissioners. My position would still be that the individual commissioner would have the ability to express their own view on the matter through any means they choose (like a letter to the editor, an op-ed piece in any media outlet or a press conference).

Unlike too many people today, my perspective on the proper role of government doesn't change based upon the emotion of an issue - or even upon the multiple types of issues.

As an individual, I have an obligation to speak out against things I believe are wrong - and I have done so both as an elected official and as an 'ordinary' citizen.

But unless the matter or issue is one under the statutory responsibilities of a governmental body, that body has no business acting or addressing it.

You must learn to separate personal obligations from governmental ones and never expect that a governmental body should act instead of the individual.

And I believe you've asked me this type of question before. What I hope you're learning about me is that I believe individual issues should never change core philosophy. In this particular case, the core philosophy is the proper role of the BCC. That will not change just because you offer up other issues that might have a higher 'moral' standing among some people.

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