Saturday, December 31, 2005

How did smaller county boards become the standard conservative position?

I remember it was an issue in Milwaukee, following the pension scandal and the Ament resignation - Scott Walker ran (in small part) on the issue of a smaller board. Was it before then, too?

Now it's resurfacing in Waukesha County, where Dan Vrakas is being urged to give it a go. James has the latest volley over at Wigderson Library & Pub. I'd tell you to go read his post, but considering his traffic numbers, you probably already have.

Conservatives should ask themselves three basic questions, I think:

1. Will it save money? Well, yes, but only so far as payroll is reduced, and even that may not apply in (to pick a random example) Sauk County, where supervisors draw a couple hundred dollars a month, at most.

2. Will it improve oversight of the government? No, it won't. Fewer people can't do the same job as more people. Fewer brains working and eyes reading means fewer questions thought of and asked.

Less oversight means more power for the bureaucracy. Is that our goal?

Granted, there are plenty of county supervisors who are just filling a chair. We're not getting good oversight from them as it is. But making the board smaller won't change that.

3. Does it improve the voters' access to and control of government? No, it doesn't. Each vote will mean marginally less, when districts are made larger.

One more: will it be harder for members of a smaller board to stay "relatively anonymous" (as James puts it)?

I dunno, but: how many members of your local town board, city council, and school board can you name? How many of your neighbors know who their state and federal representatives are?

Seems to me this issue is becoming a conservative foil - a wedge issue for a good conservative to use against a go-along-to-get-along Board that's grown fat spending the taxpayers' money.

But I think success on this issue has more potential to run counter to conservative ideals.

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