Thursday, July 07, 2011

Citizens Review Committee makes my argument for me

I just listened to the interview WSPD's Fred Lefebvre did with Olivia Summons and Thomas Killam, members of the Lucas County Citizen Review committee, which has recommended that we change our county government structure. You can listen to the interview here.

I have great respect for their dedication and interest as well as their emphasis on keeping the study objective and non-partisan. But even in this interview, they've confirmed what I've said all along: changing the structure will not give us different people, different philosophies or different decisions; we have to change the people (their philosophy and approach to governance) if we're going to have the future we'd like.

Throughout the interview, they emphasized that they didn't want to exceed their scope of looking at county government. They said they didn't look at other Ohio counties that are successful (like Wood County); they only looked to see if there were structural issues that could make our government more efficient. They said they didn't look at the politics of the governments - just the structure.

In the end, though, Killam said (paraphrased because I was trying to type as fast as he spoke): 'you can devise the greatest government ever conceived and it will still depend upon who is in office.'

They also stated, as they do in the study itself, that the committee believes a single person (in the role of the county executive) can "transcend local politics and unite the area."

But if their recommendation relies upon such a person, we're back to the individual in office.

And that has nothing to do with the structure.

Their argument today in favor of changing the structure came down to the fact that it is a person who is needed, regardless of structure. This is what I've said all along.

Certainly, there are ways county government can be more efficient and we should never stop the efforts of providing the most cost-effective government for the citizens served while keeping within the legal mandates/restrictions of county government.

But based upon the comments made by Ms. Summons and Mr. Killam, the structure isn't anywhere near as important as the people we elect.

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