Thursday, September 27, 2007

Foust Plan

I think City leaders have to be crapping their pants over this recent proposal by Erie County Councilman Kyle Foust to give the city some $23 million basically for control of the aiport, EMTA, the Zoo, and Erie Golf Course. Clearly, Erie needs the money, but they would be asked to give up control of some of their biggest assets. It would quite a transition of power, but one, in my opinion that needs to get done.

We've been discussing the benefits of a regional government for some years now, and I don't see anything bad about pooling more resources, the region, toward one common goal of a healhy economic community. More people and more resources simply get more things done when working together, than several splinter groups.

Yeah, the city has held a position of power for many years, but (as Dylan says) "Times, they are achangin'." The tax base is moving out to the County, so the County needs to seize control. I know it will be painful for people on City Council (and probably the mayor's office too) to deal with, giving up some of the power they've worked so hard to obtain (you can see some of this in Jenkins' quote in the artcle), but like Nietzsche says, the most honorable thing you can do is give yourself up for the Overman and the greater good, and it's time for the City to capitulate to the County.

I'm not saying Foust is offering the perfect deal, as with all deals there is probably some negotiating that needs to be done to get the City a bigger piece of the pie than what is now on the table. But Foust's concept is sound. Didn't I say yesterday we need to focus on the Airport and Golf Course is we want to attract tourists? EMTA and the Zoo also follow under the same categorey (I think EMTA does at least).

I say we need to move forward with Foust's plan as a step toward a regional government. Let's see what happens.




DrD said...

Pittsburgh offers a good model for Erie: Most regional assets are operated by the county. It saves time and money...and, really, they had little choice.

Pittsburgh is very provincial, much like Erie. By provincial, I mean that Pittsburgh has all kinds of little boros, like North Side and South Side, and Oakland...on and on. This is even more true outside the city: White Oak, Oakmont, Verona, Penn Hills, Gree Tree, etc. The list goes on and on.

Erie has the same thing. I still can't believe it when I look at a map of Erie County and see the name of another little boro that I've never heard of. And it's crazy that Millcreek residents--for a long time--didn't contribute to the Erie Zoo as a regional asset (although I think that has recently changed).

The problem in Pittsburgh was that all of these little fiefdoms had separate services: trash collection, police, etc. When the 'Burgh began losing population in the 80s and 90s, they had no choice but to begin combining services, and the only way to do that is at the county level.

That's when they went "metro" and implemented a county-wide governance structure that would ensure that regional assets would truly be "regional" without one entity paying far more (or less) than its fair share.

In conclusion, I believe it is inevitable that Erie County follows suit. The days of unlimited economic growth are a thing of the past. It's time to begin managing for long-term sustainability.


KitKat said...

I agree with Regionalization. Save money and time and kick the beuraucracy out on its' keister.

Ralph said...

Yes, the only drawback seems to be that it potentially concentrates a lot of power in the hands of few people, County Council I guess in this case. And seeing how I based part of theory on Nietzschean philosophy, you definitely want to be careful about this. (For worst case scenario, see Germany, 1930s.)



Zarathustra said...

Life is a fountain of delight; but where the rabble also drinks all wells are poisoned.

Ralph said...

Wow. Thanks Nietzsche.