Good governance should be at the heart of municipal consolidation
Syracuse Post-Standard letter
April 9, 2017
To the Editor:
In your March 30th editorial ("Let voters decide if they want municipal consolidation"), you note that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was accused of being heavy-handed in pushing municipalities toward referenda on government consolidation (seeking new unilateral powers for County Executives, offering $715 million in aid). You excuse his actions, arguing they wouldn't be necessary if "government officials were open to accepting the carrots he offered before."
You then trivialize resistance to consolidation by suggesting that local officials "don't want to put themselves or their friends out of government jobs." However, Consensus has already stated that consolidation will likely bring only a 1 percent savings in total local government and school spending. Few, if any, jobs would be lost.
What is evident here is a lack of good governance, perfectly illustrated by the Consensus Commission and Cuomo's "heavy-handedness" in trying to obtain public approval for major government restructuring without first developing a detailed restructuring plan that has been publicly reviewed, revised and debated, with consensus in evidence, thus making an informed public vote possible. Locally, the resistance is to the current Consensus plan, not the idea of government restructuring, per se.
A truly worthwhile justification for local government mergers (i.e., creating a county-wide city) is the opportunity for fundamental government reform and electoral reform. This is the only level at which we can meaningfully address and even resolve the many economic, social, and institutional problems of our community.
Good governance. The systems are known. We need only to learn and adopt them.
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