Thoughts on the Consensus Report

The rush to a county-city merger without a plan raises suspicion.

January 27, 2016

Some thoughts on the Consensus report.

The point I fully agree with right from the start is "we can do better".

The indicated $20 million in projected savings from consolidation is only roughly 1% of local government spending, hardly a justification for such a complex undertaking.

Consolidation should include operating more services in-house to save money and provide more flexible, complete, timely, and accountable service, rather than contracting out which is subject to politics and corruption.

Most of the recommendations don't actually depend on county-city merger.

Rather than countywide consolidation, the report considers only merging the city into the county. Towns and villages decide independently to opt-in to the merger. Notice that the whole county gets to vote on the county-city merger, but the city doesn't get to vote on village and town mergers.

There is a lack of theory of what constitutes "good governance", and a lack of specific recommended changes in government structure to achieve it.

The decision to leave out public school unification seems absurd, and fosters the continuation of "separate but equal"---where equal never is.

These shortcomings suggest that ConsensusCNY is focused primarily on getting county and city legally merged, rather than on pursuing an inspired vision of better and more cost efficient government.

All in all, I'm struck by and find it amusing how this initiative is in keeping with a slick strategy for a republican takeover of a democratic city.

I'm for government consolidation. I agree there are far too many jurisdictions in the county---and across the US overall. But the direction of this report does not inspire confidence as a path to desirable outcomes.

Government consolidation should be preceded by a well-thought out community-involved plan of action that covers both theory of good governance and structure, as well as the specific implementations to achieve it. Only then should a referendum to consolidate (i.e., specifically implement that plan) be presented to the public.

In the meantime, as a warmup and a way to see if the collective will and ability to consolidate exists, the community should take up the challenge of creating a countywide school district.