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  • Last modified 25 days ago (Oct. 24, 2018)

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County's new math

The more the county talks about adding two more commissioners, the sillier the idea seems. Rather than solve the seriously fractured nature of the current commission, adding two more voices would seem unlikely to resolve the cacophony of discord that prevents commissioners from meaningfully governing.

Historically, the best county commissioners have been the ones who look out for county interests as a whole rather than pursue agendas that further their individual districts.

Yet, listening to debate over the proposal to expand the commission, all one hears are questions about how districts would be drawn to ensure representation of parochial interests of urban vs. distant rural areas.

Clearly, what we’re doing isn’t about finding commissioners who can unite the county. It’s about finding commissioners who will further divide it.

What the county really needs, although state law might make this difficult, is a single, elected executive instead of three regional commissioners and an array of elected functionaries.

One leader, answerable to voters, could actually control the largely unsupervised mob of county employees. That’s what the county administrator position should have been, but it needed to be an elected position, not one answerable to commissioners. We still would need commissioners, and maybe even more of them, but with a different role — not as bosses but as legislators.

Basically, we need a president and a congress, not a congress that thinks it’s president. And the president needs to have a cabinet, not a bunch of other elected officials to butt heads with.

Clearly, something is wrong with county government. But the real solution is not patching the old system by packing the commission with more members of the same ilk. Nor is it hiring yet another administrator to sit at their table with them.

Difficult situations require imaginative solutions. And the current proposal offers only more unimaginable discord. If having three commissioners is bad, the solution isn’t adding two more just like them.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Oct. 24, 2018

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