(Editor's note: The tone of this editorial is direct, but it is not meant to be disrespectful. The allegations contained herein are supported by the facts.)
May 25, 2012
What are they afraid of?
You can almost smell the fear.
First, the city managers of both Douglas and Saugatuck provide all sorts of "cooperative" assistance and behind-the-scenes support to a citizens group that's opposing government consolidation.
(Wait... are government officials supposed to attempt to influence civic debate by subterfuge?)
Then, in what appears a coordinated fashion, these same folks all complain that there wasn't proper advance notice of the state Boundary Commission's May 16th citizen hearing in Saugatuck on the Consolidated Government Committee's consolidation petition. They demand the date be pushed back.
(Okay... the date gets pushed back to June 20th.)
And now, three weeks after the new hearing date was announced, both Douglas and Saugatuck city councils--in all likelihood at the urging of the two city managers--suddenly write letters to the Boundary Commission saying the new date is 11 days outside the specified 220-day time period for the petition.
And guess what. Our erstwhile public servants now want the Boundary Commission to dismiss the consolidation petition.
To what desperate extremes will some of these paid-by-the-taxpayer government bureaucrats go to keep government consolidation from ever reaching the voters?
Well, the Douglas city manager was desperate enough to actually tell a citizen attorney who sought to arrange a cooperative meeting between the CGC and its opposing group aiming to agree on a joint approach to government cost-savings analysis, "Unless the CGC is willing to withdraw their petition from the SBC (State Boundary Commission), I have absolutely no desire to meet with them."
(Wait... should citizens be asked to give up their First Amendment rights, in exchange for a meeting with their city manager?)
Desperate is, as desperate does.
By now, it should be as clear as the radar dome atop Mount Baldhead that way too many of our local government folks are dead-set against allowing voters to express their wishes on government consolidation. These bureaucrats don't want consolidated government, and they don't mind pushing the ethical limits to deny the voters their rightful say. Maybe they're worried about losing their jobs (or their new pay raises). Maybe they feel their personal power is threatened. Maybe they just haven't read the First Amendment lately.
Regardless, this behavior by our local officials is unseemly at best, and conceivably downright illegal at worst. (Ironically enough, it actually amounts to yet another pretty good argument for consolidation.)
The fact is, we all deserve better.
The Consolidated Government Committee
May 25, 2012
(Editor's note: This editorial was also published as an open letter to the community in the June 1, 2012 issue of The Observer.)