There is another story in The Courier today (read it before it goes in the archive) about the ineptitude of city and county leaders. What?!?!? Yes, I am as shocked as you are (he wrote sarcastically).
The issue of how to merge the county and city health departments has been around for awhile now. I can remember back to the last mayoral election and how the idea was discussed then. For this to still be an issue almost two years later...I am not saying whether it is a good idea or bad, but seriously, waiting this long to make a decision and move forward on a project? It's not like we're asking for someone to settle the River Place issue (he wrote sarcastically).
If you don't want to read the article, here's what happened: since August 2007 (remember the flooding issues at the time) the city and county were being reimbursed by FEMA for the cost of renting a temporary location for the health departments (around $38k annually for each). Fast forward two years...since neither the city nor county health departments have a plan in place to move to a permanent home, FEMA said "that's enough" and the payments stopped May 31.
Yes, I know that the money they were getting was from the taxpayers (so it was really a wash for us - at least some of it was coming back into the area in the form of rent). However, we're still paying taxes to the federal government, and now we're on the hook to fund the housing of two health departments. Before, we weren't directly on the hook for the cost. Well, I guess the city and county are doing well enough financially that this shouldn't be a big issue (he wrote sarcastically).
SERIOUSLY!!! - doesn't someone know that this was going to happen? We constantly hear how the city/county are facing a crisis of finances, yet no one can take some simple (or should be simple) actions to find some permanent office space? They passed on the old Washington school (I guess anything North of the Blanchard River is verboten)...they have passed on the numerous empty buildings that dot the Main Street landscape...they have passed on their duties to be responsible!!
It will be
interesting disheartening to see how this is going to be spun by Ed Ingold/Pete Sehnert/Bruce Hardy, but that doesn't change the facts. On the surface it may seem like a minor issue, but lack of action just shines a big ol' spotlight on the larger problem: the inability of our elected officials to plan and lead effectively.
The possibility of developing a charter for the city seems to be gaining support, and when events like this happen, it is very enticing. Even though we could not change how the county commissioners act, creating a charter for the city gives us an opportunity to construct the virtual shell of a local government that is more responsive to the needs of the citizens and gives our electees the power to act accordingly.
I am confident that the only thing our elected officials needs is the right framework and our support to take action and be successful. With both those things, we will give them the right environment to lead, and I am sure they will shine brightly and not let us down again (he wrote sarcastically).