Do We Need County Government
Bob of Bob's Brainstorms has an interesting post today suggesting we replace the current model of county government with regional administrative positions appointed by the state government. The amount of corruption found in county government (particularly in Cuyahoga County lately) is obviously the impetus for his suggestion. However, Bob also addresses the redundancy of functions between the different levels of government which may be a better reason to effect permanent change.
Before we address his suggestion, we need to figure out what county government does that isn't/can't be done at a higher or lower level. Ask most people about county government and all we think of is the county sheriffs and the auditors who put stickers on gas pumps. The weights and measures certification programs that fall under the county auditors would seem like a function that could easily be shifted to a regional administrative oversight. Okay, then what about the sheriffs? What laws are enforced by county sheriffs instead of by city police or state troopers? What else does county government do and how much of it is specific to that particular county? My guess is very little only applies to one county.
It sounds like an interesting idea that should be fully considered. However, all change is difficult. To enact change one must understand who will be opposed to the change and why. In this case it is obvious that there would be redundant positions in the 88 counties that would be merged or eliminated. Those are called jobs. Also, politicians of all stripes derive power through the current system. Power is never relinquished willingly. Is the ongoing corruption in Cuyahoga County enough of a catalyst to overcome the opposition? I don't think so. This may be an idea to advance in the "eating an elephant" manner. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. In that mindset, the way to advance this idea is to identify the functions that would most obviously benefit from a regional structure and work through the legislative process to remove those tasks from the county.
Labels: County Government