The efforts to fix county governance are much like attempting to treat an illness without examining the patient. The county’s “conversations” are similarly detached from reality. One of the hardest tasks we face is recognizing reality and facing the consequences of the choices available to us. Rules that limit our options and expose our motives are the toughest to make and the most desirable to have. Rules we recognize or make on ourselves for open fair choices are often referred to as ethics. Are we trying to improve governance or only working for a leg up?
If improving governance is the option, island citizens should be able to know what the county is currently obligated to do: by the state constitution, under state laws, due to federal laws and regulations, OSHA, EPA, Clean Water Act, etc. and what the county has imposed upon island residents. What is the county’s current debt load? What assets back these obligations? How much is due annually? What does operating the county cost annually? How does it break down by program and objects?
What are options that might be considered? Should there be both a plan and a reserve fund established to deal with economic downturns? Should such economic downturn plan be a part of all employment and labor contracts? How often are programs evaluated for effectiveness and alternative approaches?
Should there be created a review system for seeking better options for accomplishing agreed upon goals? What would be reasonable rules for proposed new legislation? Should a source of new funding be required for any new legislation? Should any new legislation requiring new funding be an automatic referendum to establish that funding? Should new legislation have a required sunset/review date?
These seem to me to be a start for talking about the type of government San Juan citizens should expect from an open, above the board county government. I will join with Robert and Vivian Burt in voting for and recommending to others: Brian McClerren, Bob Jarman, and Rick Hughes for county council, to see if things can get moving in this direction.
James Alfred Smith,
Former Lopez School Superintendent, Board member & current Fisherman Bay Sewer District Commissioner