Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Local Politics

Oh, the level of vitriol against a man who's just trying to look at some out-of-the-box options!  Not to enact them.  Just to ask if we should consider them.

I have been thankful for the leadership of our town chairman, Matt.  He doesn't want to play political games.  He's as fiscally conservative as I am.  He's got loads of common sense.  He's not a fool, to be taken advantage of.  He's good!  

The problem is that our township and the village within its borders have been fussing with each other for decades.  Town properties can be (and have been) annexed by other villages, depleting our tax base.  Our town doesn't have the authority to make plans for itself; we have to get approval from the neighboring villages and from the county.  We can protect ourselves and be more self-governing if we have village status.  Recently our township attempted to become incorporated into a village, but the village-within-our-borders thwarted the attempt (in violation of the current Border Agreement between the two entities). 

So now the question is: Shall we look into the possibility of a merger between the town and the village?  It would be a way to achieve village status.  It might be better than being "eaten up" slowly by neighboring villages because we'd go into the merger as equal partners.  But there would be some serious downsides too.  In a few weeks, we'll have an advisory referundum on whether we should even begin to look into this.  This is not a vote on whether to consolidate with the village.  It's merely a vote to determine whether we should explore the possibility.

Last night was the third town meeting on the subject.  It was the first non-Wednesday, and thus the first Gary and I were able to attend. Some of the folks from church made good points against looking into consoliation.  The county exec (who was speaking in favor of consolidation) made the strongest case to me to vote against consolidation.  (Bigger = better!  Progress!  Numbers!)   But the main things that I saw at last night's meeting:

a)  Grudges are powerful.  And long-lasting.  And they blind people.  There's a place for being cautious and wary when someone in the past has done dirt to you.  There's certainly a place for "trust but verify"!  But to say that we can never even talk about ending a feud?  Sad.

b)  I'm shocked at the anger against a man who's wanting to look at options for protecting the township he's in charge of.  I shouldn't be.  Gary said the same thing has happened to him.  When he would float ideas at his previous congregation for ways to reach out to the community, or point out repairs that needed to be made to the building, or suggest changes to the confirmation program, so often people refused to even consider it.  "We can't even discuss the pros and cons of what we have now and what I'm suggesting?"  Nope. 

I still don't know how I'll vote on the referendum.  Short of seeing into the future, there's no way to know what's the best course of action.  Both sides have really good arguments on how to save money, reduce government, ensure freedoms.  But we don't know what decisions will be made by neighboring villages, who will be sitting on town boards, and what kind of decisions will be made if/when we appeal the decision on last year's incorporation effort.

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