In proud Prince George’s, Horribly Bad For County Government charter amendment questions beg for a NO vote. The ancient Romans had a saying: Timeo Danaos et donna ferentes. Beware of politicians bearing gifts is my translation. Today we are given the gift of altering our form of government, Beware! Beware!
Recent conversation in print suggests that it is a simple matter for ten people to consider and reach agreement and therefore the charter changes are a small price to pay for perfect government. “The information given to the county executive to examine before making decisions can simply be duplicated for the County Council. Surely, a body of nine, who usually vote in a unified manner, can handle analyzing the decisions of one. Thorough reviews would be processed seamlessly; questionable decisions deserve to be kept in limbo until answers are made clear” (Gazette.com)
This is the classic statement of elites, fearing democracy, which proffer the argument that 1) if everyone in a group has interests in common, then they will act collectively to achieve them; and 2) in a democracy, the greatest concern is that the majority will tyrannize and exploit the minority. Mancur Olson, Jr. . Indeed, the proponents claim that, if in fact, these amendments are meant to control the chief executive; then their very nature is unarguably in the best interest of their readers.
The need to create vertical, shifting coalitions of influence to achieve a working majority will assure that the common good is held captive to individual (political) gain. The complexity that will occur under these proposed changes, and the difficulty of navigating the new political reality will mean that citizens and business will have to hire professionals skilled at forging these new coalitions of power. In addition, trying to hold the new collective executive accountable, will give rise, rather, to finger pointing blurring the abilities of the voters to discern the cause of the delay, inaction or governmental misstep.
There is in the public discourse the idea that these ballot questions, if approved, would somehow remove politics from government, by adding more government. But actually the fear is about the exercise of raw, absolute, political power. Of course, because of the many commissions and, for example, term limits, a chief executive already is limited. So this is an attempt to constrain him or her even more. And to what end? To prevent him or her from actually dynamically using the power of the office to reach out and respond to his or her constituents who placed the person in the office in the first place. We are faced here with a power sharing grab.
The resources at the hand of a strong chief executive can react to the needs of the people who placed him in office quickly and decisively. This power to send men and money to a particular area in the county can be seen as punitive when one section benefits and not another. But if that is true, then imagine nine parochial interest groups continuously vying to control a portion of the public funds in order to satisfy the needs of their sub section of the county. What you will have is on going deal making in order to spread resources everywhere and a reluctance to fix and solve challenges in a specific place and time. The county executive is the only person elected by the entire county and therefore the only person accountable to all the electorate. The voters should expect and should hold accountable that this person elected by the majority will have the best interests of the majority in mind as an end goal of his or her government.
But no matter the reasons, the amendments are still is BAD FOR COUNTY GOVERNMENT! Just vote NO!
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].