County proposal warrants fair lookWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo Free Press has a mixed record when it comes to backing the ideas and proposals of Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop. Some of his arts and social ideas have attracted criticism, but were in line with his campaign platform, and we have generally supported them. Some of his economic and development proposals have been less deserving of blanket approval.
Konop’s latest and most far-reaching plan is to adopt a charter similar to that of Cuyahoga County. The changes would eliminate the three-commissioner system in favor of a county executive, 11 geographical representatives and several elected positions being converted to appointed ones.
Because Konop and The Blade are so feverishly supportive of the change, it is understandable that many local citizens, blog commenters and WSPD pundits are instinctively apprehensive about the plan. But if one can separate the messengers from the message, there is a serious discussion warranted beyond the hype.
Lucas County is wounded and no one seems to be able to staunch the bleeding. A hard look at how county government is organized could result in money-saving and opportunity-developing ideas.
But there are also reasons to be wary. For one, what’s the rush? Why does this have to be rammed before voters while Konop is still in office? If the idea has merit, it should find support and life beyond one politician. The examination should proceed, but with caution and prudence.
As it continues, there are a few things that should be front and center in the discussion. First — and I am sure this will need to be repeated until the Maumee River runs dry — government does not create jobs. Konop seems to think that is one of this plan’s benefits, but it is private enterprise that creates jobs. Government can facilitate an atmosphere that is conducive to development, but mainly by staying out of the way.
I am also leery of any system that takes decision-making out of voters’ hands and gives it to a few people for appointments. Voters may not always get it right, but it is much more difficult to corrupt the voting process than it is to unduly influence a few individuals.
In a city where far too many individuals allow themselves to be directed by fear or appeasement, it is dangerous to take decisions away from the voting public, no matter how small or apathetic that public may sometimes appear.
So, yes, we support Konop in opening the conversation. But we urge a slower approach that plays out with thought and an eye on the long run, not one dictated by the heat of emotion and the urgency of isolated media concerns. As former Lucas County Administrator Mike Beazley points out in this week’s cover story, we have lived with the current form of government for 100 years. So why the full-speed ahead rush to abandon it now?
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.