Members of Columbia Countys Chairmanship/CEO Task Force tonight will continue studying the future of the countys government. Theyre wasting their time.
Local legislators are making it increasingly clear that the Task Force, a group of appointed volunteers who spent enormous numbers of hours studying county government, is useful only as a posterior cover.
Actually, the task of protecting the legislators hindquarters mostly falls to a non-binding ballot cast last November. In that straw poll, Columbia County voters said they favored a switch to an elected County Commission chairman instead of the current form in which one of five district-elected commissioners is chosen as chairman from among his peers.
Voters also ambivalently favored cutting back from five commissioners to four. But legislators now act as if that straw vote were as deeply carved in stone as the Ten Commandments. I believe in the people of Columbia County, and I believe they voted the way they wanted, postures state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling. I think the big question is how this task force implements what the people voted for.
Never mind that Brush himself was among the local elected officials who appointed a member to the task force. Far from a bunch of elitists, as some ill-informed people suggest, the task force is nothing more than a group of citizen volunteers who took their job seriously. After considerable study, the task force said future county commissions should be composed of five district commissioners, with the addition of a countywide elected chairman.
So what, say lawmakers. The people have spoken. The commission will be cut to four, with the elected chairman on top. Sure, the electorate will be confused because the districts wont match the five school board districts. And commissioners will become less responsive as their numbers of constituents greatly increase. The people have spoken.
What convenient baloney.
I dont see why you would empower a task force like this and then totally disregard it, says a frustrated Tom Beazley, voicing the concern of many of the panels members.
Legislators arent required, of course, to follow the guidance of the task force. But neither are they bound by a straw poll of voters, many of whom were informed only because members of the task force donated their own money to buy advertising before last years ballot.
Thats right. Lawmakers put the task force together, but neglected to include a method of informing voters of the investigative groups findings. Why should they? The legislators had already written the straw poll questions before the task force even met!
Legislators can cover their rear ends with the results of a poll if they choose. They hold the power to go to Atlanta and willy-nilly change Columbia Countys government.
But theyd better be careful. If they screw it up, no amount of blather about the will of the people can save their political hides from the wrath of those same people who will demand to know why something that wasnt broken got fixed in the first place.
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