Sunday, June 13, 2010
Well, it's Sunday, so the paper has another story about what a great idea a county council form of government is. They also published another editorial berating just about everyone who hasn't joined in the rush to follow their instructions.
If my count is correct, they're up to 21 such articles and editorials (not counting their actual 'news' coverage of the public hearing on the idea) in a two-month time frame. They really want us to change our form of government.
Why? Well, I'm not going to speculate on their obsession with this, though nothing they've pushed in last 15 years or so has actually worked out to be 'good' for the area. They pushed the Marina District, the redevelopment of Southwyck and the renovation of the steam plant - all projects that have failed primarily because of a lack of private interest, though the politicians did jump all over themselves, as they usually do, to carry out the paper's wishes.
And look at some of the debt costs our governments are paying for other non-governmental basics like the Lasalle apartments and some of the other office buildings downtown. The city backed bonds for these efforts and is paying huge amounts of interest because they're not profitable ventures - diverting precious public dollars away from essential city services like road repair. Those were also pushed by the Blade.
Look at the paper's push to 'revitalize' downtown with a new arena. Every study done on government-backed arenas proves that they don't increase economic development, but only redirect the spending of existing disposable income. The paper and the politicians tout the 'new' businesses springing up around such ventures, but never stop to count the loss of other businesses in the area.
The Blade pushed for a strong-mayor form of government for the city of Toledo - and then we got Carty Finkbeiner who was known for his penchant to micromanage - poorly. And one of the major issues the editors had with Carty was his failure to hire someone who could actually do the day-to-day management of the city. They repeatedly said Carty needed to have a chief of staff who he'd let actually do such a job.
Of course, they also said a strong mayor would be better at economic development. And that's worked out soooo well for us, hasn't it? (sarcasm)
The paper, the publisher and the editorial board have been behind the biggest boondoggles in our community. What makes us think this latest fad of theirs - an actual change in our county government structure - will work out any better?
Ask yourself this: if the paper were actually reporting 'news' don't you think there would be at least a little bit of balance in the reporting? Where are the comments from detractors of this form of government? Where are the profiles of areas that chose NOT to change their government? And what about all the communities that are successfully meeting constituent expectations with a three-commissioner form of government?
So far, they've picked a couple of areas that have changed and quoted the new elected officials about how great it is. Funny, but the current elected officials in Lucas County are only trying to prevent the elimination of their jobs if they object to The Blade's plan - at least, that's what the editorials say. But those elected officials in county councils aren't doing the exact same thing by saying what a great form of government they serve in?
How typically hypocritical.
They also continue to demonize the very people whose help they say is needed: the business community and other community leaders. They accuse them of not exhibiting 'leadership' on the issue because they haven't followed the paper's lead and rushed to join the publisher's agenda. Again, how typically hypocritical to accuse people of not leading because they're not following.
But let's look at Ohio. We have 88 counties and in the last 40 years, only one (Summit) chose the county-council form of government. Cleveland, because of the huge amounts of corruption inherent in their system, is in the process of making the change. That means that 86 Ohio counties believe the three-board commission works just fine.
Across the nation, most counties have similar structures to Ohio, primarily because the counties are designed to be the arm of state government, implementing state laws and services on a local basis. Especially in Ohio, they are not designed to be law-making entities - only administrative offices tasked with oversight and funding of such duties as welfare, child support enforcement, zoning and building regs in unincorporated areas of the county, etc...
There really isn't a *need* for them to be anything more. The 'logic' that they can somehow magically be better at economic development if they only expand their members and their costs to the public fails at every level.
As I've repeatedly said - it's not our form of government, it's the people we elect and the philosophies they bring to the office. The Blade consistently pushes individuals whose concept is one of 'government as the solution' versus those who believe in a 'limited government' concept.
And to see the impact of that advocacy, all you have to do is look around Toledo and you'll see exactly where 40 years of such an attitude has gotten us: declining population, declining numbers of businesses, declining property values, increasing costs of government, increasing taxes and fees to support those increasing costs, increased size of government, and a growing class of people completely dependent upon government for just about everything from basic needs to forcing personal preferences of a few upon all.
Throughout it all, we've been told that if we only do what the paper advocates, everything will be better. The problem is that they're advocating policies that history shows us repeatedly to have failed. And they push politicians who haven't yet learned those historical lessons - and who have little, if any, experience actually doing the economic development everyone says they want.
So why should we believe them now when their track record is so ... wanting?
Their agenda is clear: they want us to change our form of government. And the manipulation of the 'news' to support their agenda is just as blatantly obvious as they inundate us with articles about other areas that have already done what they want.
But for each of their few examples, there are hundreds of others that didn't change their government and are certainly more successful, especially considering the huge deficits so many of their examples currently have.
Changing our form of government is not going to change the philosophy of those who are elected. Only the voters can do that. This area is like a drug addict going back to the ballot box at every opportunity for their 'fix.' Only when the voters hit rock bottom and realize that they must change will we get a different philosophy in our elected officials - and a chance at being successful once again.
Related posts on the issue:
Asking the wrong questions about a county charter form of government for Lucas County
The Blade is wrong about charter county government
Konop forces failed ideas into his county charter proposal
Public Meeting on changing Lucas County's government