Merger Plan: blueprint First, Then Vote

It would be an example of poor governance to do otherwise.
Post-Standard Letter (published February 9, 2016)

February 9, 2016

To the Editor:

I strongly disagree with Jim Walsh (and the Consensus report) that a referendum on a Syracuse-Onondaga County merger be held before a detailed plan is developed and vetted by the public. To grant a vote on the idea of change rather than on a specific set of changes is fake democracy. It is like writing a blank check. It is a way for politicians to change the form of government without the true and required approval by the public.

The public cannot cast an informed vote without knowing the details of a proposed merger. Obviously, local government does not require a public referendum to develop a detailed merger plan.

The Consensus report fails to meaningfully inform the reader on the merits of a city-county merger. It consists mostly of general and intuitive assumptions (without corroborating evidence), plus recommendations that do not require a city-county merger. It lacks any theory of "good governance" or specific recommended changes to achieve it. And it defers to the future the thorny political issues of a county-wide school district and the inclusion of villages and towns in the merger.

The content and tenor of the report suggests that Consensus is focused primarily on getting county and city legally merged rather than on pursuing an inspired vision of better and more efficient government.

All in all, I'm struck by and amused by how this initiative is in keeping with a strategy for a Republican takeover of a Democratic city.

For good governance, let's create a detailed merger plan first, then vote.

Carlo Moneti