Diary

Clark County (WA) Votes on Home Rule Charter

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MISSING THE TARGET

In November 2013, Clark County (WA) voters elected five county residents from each of the three Clark County Commissioner districts to serve as a Board of Freeholders. In May 2014, the board approved a drafted home rule charter, specifying a form of government for the county, to be placed on the ballot for the November 4th general election. By law, the Board of Freeholders dissolved when the proposed charter was completed. According to one of the (now former) Freeholders, the aim of the proposed charter is “to give taxpayers better representation, more local control and needed protections against abuse of power and wasteful government.” In my view, if this was the aim of the Board of Freeholders, they missed their target altogether. In fact, I believe the proposed charter would produce results that are fully opposite of the board’s stated objectives. The following summarizes my perspective on this:

A SIMPLE CHOICE

If you’re in favor of self-government, you should vote “No!” on the proposed Clark County Home Rule Charter. If you’re in favor of handing over your authority to a small group of career politicians, their special interest friends and the wasteful bureaucracy they aim to build up, you should vote “Yes”. It’s that simple.

THE POWER OF THE BALLOT

Presently, Clark County government is headed up by three full-time elected Commissioners. This means you have ultimate control by choosing to vote a Commissioner in or out at the end of their respective four-year term.

EMPOWERING THE POLITICAL ELITE

The proposed Charter would replace the three full-time Commissioners with five part-time Councilors whose authority would be placed in an appointed County Executive – i.e. an unelected bureaucrat. This would mean the complete removal of the ultimate control you presently have over Clark County government.

WHAT WILL YOU DO, WHAT WILL YOU DO?!

For clarity on this last point, think about the current County Commissioner you are most interested in removing from office. Now, think about that person resigning and successfully seeking to be appointed as the new County Executive (with his or her resume, it would be hard to fault their qualifications). Now what are you going to do?!

Board of Clark County Commissioners
Board of Clark County Commissioners

IT ALL ADDS UP TO “VOTE NO!”

The pro-Charter elitists have added a petition and initiative process to their proposal, as a seeming enticement to vote “Yes”. Since it cannot be used to eliminate or reduce taxes or fees, or change a county policy, or stop or amend a county project, or add or get rid of a program, or reverse a budget decision, or amend the charter or repeal the charter, or … , it is pretty much impotent.

Although the aspect of the proposed Charter that takes authority out of the hands of Clark County voters provides more than enough reason for a “NO!” vote, it has many other negative features. These include: The marginalization of rural interests through redistricting and a planned four-year transition that is likely to bring chaos to a presently stable county government, where the costs of governing have been seeing dramatic reductions, contributing to the overall thriving of the county itself.

As the British say, the proof of the pudding is in its eating. There are 133 counties on the West Coast. Only 28 are Charter Counties. Only 5 of them have County Executives. Zero (0) of them have County Executives with the autonomy Clark County’s would have. This makes it abundantly clear that the right thing to do is to …

Vote NO Charter!