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Friday, May 01, 2009

Pretext for Bad Government & Easy Solution

Recent musings by certain elected officials would lead the uninformed to believe that if it were not for the coached comments from the "staff", committees, sub-committees and then sub-sub-committees – namely hired "consultants" – the governing body of the City could not function. It appears that in order to address the unwarranted municipalization tomfoolery, the shenanigans at Marco Walk, the sound or noise (depending on one's perspective) at the Esplanade, feuding restaurateurs, and on and on, delegating and relegating governing responsibility is the standard practice.

The logical next step to this abdication of governing responsibility by the City Council will be that the City is going to start formally naming Czars with their own committee. Consider:

  • Electric Municipalization Czar (already in place)
  • Jolley Bridge Czar (already in place)
  • STRP Czar (already in place)
  • Budget Czar
  • Noise/Sound Czar
  • Parking- Seat-to-Square Foot Czar
  • Forensic Audit Czar (already in place)
  • Parks & Recreation Czar (already in place)
  • Dog Park Czar (already in place)
  • Waterway Czar
  • Rental Property Czar
  • Hoteliers Czar
  • Restaurateur Czar
  • Veterans Park Development Czar
  • Tract K Czar
  • Disparage the Non-Syndicate People Czar (basically formalizing what already exists)
  • Cistern Czar
  • Environmental Crimes Restitution Czar (we can only be so lucky)
  • Marco Island High School Czar (unlikely, but we can only hope)

Here is a novel idea for the good folks that sought to be city councilors: stop relegating responsibility and take on these Czar-like roles yourselves! It's not like being a councilor for the City of Marco Island is akin to being the president of the United States.

This serial relegation of responsibility is nothing but bad government.

Bad government makes it easier to affix blame on others or to some inanimate thing such as a law as a means of justifying the unjustifiable, the incomprehensible or the outright illegal. American history is replete with the cowardly, those that are led by special interests, those that hide behind committees or immoral laws – the results of which were catastrophic.

However, American history is blessed with leaders that didn't blame laws for the inequities of the times, nor did they seek sub committees and Czars, but simply acted on moral convictions, virtues and ethics. These tenets are what drove the Founders and Framers of the Constitution to explicitly ensure inalienable rights as guaranteed by natural law. Namely, they sought and achieved the necessary improvements in government themselves by simply doing what was right on behalf of all the citizens.

Here on Marco Island it should be no different. The basis for many of the endemic problems on the island is predicated on abdication of responsibility to the vacuum that is invariably filled by the syndicate – to the disdain and chagrin of the majority – ergo the continual friction and impasses. Those that want to keep the citizenry in the dark love this renunciation approach to government for they will always have some queer interpretation laws, hide behind lawyers, rely on the biased "staff" and have greater opportunity to promulgate their special interests.

But with leaders of integrity, the solution to quickly resolve these seeming systemic issues is quite simple.

First, any problem, issue, or decision must and should be debated in the open. Backroom deals and private negotiations, a la the Tract K commercializing debacle, must be explicitly forbidden by city ordinance, and when violated, a stiff penalty must be levied.

Secondly, severely curtail the propagation of committees and sub-committees and "consultants". Explicitly forbid initiatives by the syndicate that bind the city – as in the solar panel scam on a public plot clearly deeded for a school site. City councilors should take direct control and direct charge – come on people, we are not NASA, so this is not rocket science. We don't need to pay $100,000 for a certified air analyzing team to detect lethal levels of gas when people by the hundreds are seeking medical attention.

Thirdly, city councilors must be personally familiar with the facts and never ever rely solely on "staff". Independent research is critical. The federal government has the independent, investigative General Accountability Office (GAO) – we can have the same here: to wit, there are scores of high school seniors and college students that would love to intern as researchers for sitting city councilors. Here is a novel suggestion: the City could forgo the wasting of $20,000 on some consultant to promulgate the electric municipalization white elephant, and instead use that money as an endowment to fund micro scholarships for high school seniors and college students that intern for sitting city councilors.

We the people are afforded on a daily basis the opportunity to seek out those councilors that will openly discuss the issues thereby encouraging citizen input. This process restores integrity to our democratically elected body.

However, practical considerations seem to make the exercising of our daily democratic obligation impractical, and that is why town hall chats with a city councilor is unfortunately infrequent albeit most welcomed. But so as to obviate the impractical nature of physical gatherings, that is why God invented the blog.

Hence, a simple call: the few independent councilors that have repeatedly proven to represent all of the residents and not just the special interest group should move to the 21st century and put forth their own blog. There, these councilors can exercise good, open and continual democratic leadership by posting their position and facilitating the input and exchange of ideas from the constituency. (The use of the newspapers' blog for this purpose is woefully inappropriate, and email blasts are woefully ineffectual).

With a constant virtual town hall, the objective councilors will find that the need for the serial committees vanishes, a layer of abstraction from the truth is removed, the influence of the special interest group is eliminated, and they can actually do what they are supposed to do – directly represent We The People.

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