Just how much gets accomplished when the local elected officials work together?
Using the Modernization/Consolidation as one recent example. City Council voted yes on the resolution in April ’08. In July of that same year, some members of the city council felt they had been excluded (Did they not read it before voting?). So, they held a special meeting, rescinded the original resolution and appointed their own to the committee. One council person voted yes on his own nomination.
Then in November ’08 the ordinance was tabled. Nearly a year after the first ordinance was approved, the council finally said yes and the planning began. For another full year the reorganization committee met. The public and elected officials were invited.
Once the plan was completed and given to both city council members and county commissioners, it sat idle with no movement for almost 11 months until the governing bodies hired a firm for $70,000 to assess the financial aspect. Delaware County and Muncie City took nearly three years to come to a consensus. Compare to Yorktown and Mount Peasant’s one year of planning.
Or our neighbors on the southwest corner of the state where Vanderburgh County Commissioners , spent just five months meeting and discussing their consolidation with Evansville.
VANDERBURGH COMMISSIONERS VOTE FOR MERGER: Vanderburgh County Commissioners have taken one of the final steps needed to place a question on merging city and county governments before for the voters next year (Gootee, Evansville Courier & Press). During their meeting Tuesday night, Commissioners Marsha Abell and Lloyd Winnecke supported the resolution which enables a referendum in November 2012, while Commissioner Stephen Melcher voted against it. Now for the plan officials have spent the last five months discussing to get onto the ballot, the Evansville City Council must approve the exact same resolution as the commissioners. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Sept. 26. Melcher’s lone dissenting vote came as no surprise after his own proposal adding a so-called voter threshold died without a vote after neither Abell or Winnekce seconded it. Under a threshold, city voters and those who live outside city limits would have had to give separate majority approval for the two governments to merge. The proposal being considered requires a simple countywide majority from voters at the polls for the new government structure to take effect in January 2015.
The City of Evansville passed the ordinance on September 26, 2011.
The March 2011 Common Council meeting saw no discussion on the modernization. With the meeting about to adjourn after 15 minutes, a man approached the council. His question was valid. “What are your thoughts about the consolidation?” Silence, until the citizen prodded for an answer. Alison Quirk said we would hear the city council’s thoughts at the public meeting. Council woman, Linda Gregory, spoke to the issue. Marshall said he thought Gregory was on the reorganization committee. He can read a plan about a woman’s daycare idea, but knows nothing about the consolidation committee?
Here is an excerpt from a letter to the editor on that meeting:
“It made me wonder whether council members had seriously studied the proposal. Had council members actively engaged their constituents about the proposal? Were council members waiting to receive a script to follow or to be informed how to vote before they spoke?”
Linda Gregory had studied the issues and complexities of government reorganization. Linda Gregory had discussed reorganization with her constituents at her monthly meetings. Linda Gregory did not wait for the party leadership to tell her what to think or how vote or when to speak or not speak. And Linda Gregory shared her ideas with the audience.
Friends, words and deeds tell us much about ourselves and the candidates we elect. So does silence.” Muncie Star Press April 21, 2011.
After three years of voting it up, voting it down, public hearing, no discussion, not reading the finished plan, and paying $70,000 for a “fiscal study” only to come up with two changes. The 67% voting threshold, a political move designed to lessen your vote, and protecting the public defenders.
This is what happens when the elected officials currently in office “work together”. Nothing gets done and it ends up costing the citizens.
Folks, this is not good government. It is Muncie City Council government.