City and County

Anderson County Commissioner David Bolling has resumed blogging, with timely posts on a couple of issues that people have been talking about for weeks (or longer): the county’s payment to an insurance broker (who is also a close friend and political contributor to the County Mayor), as well as full disclosure on the issue of moving the Juvenile Court — specifically, discussion about whether to move the Juvenile Court to the Jolley Building, or to move the Clerk and Trustee’s offices across the street and put the Juvenile Court upstairs.

The last paragraph of the most recent post is the one that gives me hope:

**As a disclaimer, I know that the more I talk about this the more I will be accused of petty politics because I may or may not consider running for County Mayor in 2010. To that, I would say that for the next three years at least, I have the responsibility of being a County Commissioner, and the obligation to do what is right by the people who elected me. I hope that doesn’t ever come across as petty.

David is a good guy — no, better than a good guy: he’s the kind of person I would respect and trust as my County Mayor.

When City Council appointed a Charter Review Committee in July, I had some concerns based simply on the makeup of the committee.  It’s not that Council chose poorly, but the pool of applicants was rather limited — not at all the kinds of community leaders who had run for and served on the Charter Commission a couple of years ago.

The Charter Commission implemented the charter review committee, to eliminate the months of effort required of them to update and bring the Charter into compliance with state law.  Their intent, clearly stated, was that the charter review committee would not undertake major policy revisions, but simply a periodic housekeeping function.

Early on — perhaps at the very first meeting — some on the committee began talking about major renovations rather than housekeeping.  Fortunately, they were redirected to their mission.  Now, however, these issues have surfaced yet again.

Oak Ridge resident Virginia Jones has asked a city committee to consider recommending that City Council members be elected from districts.

The city’s seven Council members are currently elected to citywide at-large seats.

To his credit, Chairman Tom Normand said that the committee will remain focused on their primary mission of updating the charter before any other issues are discussed.  However, I am disappointed that the option to consider revisions outside the scope of the committee’s purpose may be considered later, when the housekeeping is finished.  I’m further disappointed in other committee members who indicated an interest in "keeping it on the table."

District representation in a city the size of Oak Ridge is a bad idea for two reasons:  one, it artificially limits the talent pool available to the citizens for choosing those who will represent them on City Council and the School Board, and two, that it introduces a much greater potential for bargaining — things like "I’ll vote for an expensive neighborhood revitalization in your district, but only if you vote for an equally expensive new greenway in mine."  Pork-barrel spending, made intensely local.

With the School Board, the problems could be similar.  We are extremely fortunate (and unusual) to have a school system where resources are allocated based upon need, not greed, and in a balanced fashion.  I would like for it to stay that way — we all should, as it is for the overall health and well-being of our city.

Charter Review Committee: please stick to your designated mission.  If you want to make major policy changes, run for the Charter Commission next time so that the voters will have an opportunity to select you (or NOT) based upon your positions.

4 Responses to “City and County”

  1. on 09 Oct 2007 at 4:49 pm girlfriend

    Great post. Good luck to Mr. Bolling. It is nice having someone in the county keeping the citizens informed. I hope he makes the decision to run. He is honest, ethical and can help the county move forward. Heard he is doing a bang up job in Oliver Springs.

  2. on 09 Oct 2007 at 9:21 pm latenitenurse

    Whoa, neighbor. Before your “disappointment
    makes things awkward, again, take into consideration the Oak Ridger tends to leave out entire paragraphs and quotes just what it likes. As we all know, it is never wise to base an assumption on what the Oak Ridger prints.
    And as to the applicants, did you look over the list? I believe there were 13 applying and 7 chosen..and the “one” you refer to was appointed with 6 out of 7 council votes.Care to guess the negative voter? He also was appointed as vice-chair. Let’s try to remain civil, we have a common goal on other matters at hand.

  3. on 17 Oct 2007 at 3:33 pm Harry Pruit

    So district representation would “limit the talent pool.” Come on now, what you are really saying is that Highland View, Woodland and Scarboro do not have enough intelligent citizens to be represented in city elections. I resectfully disagree.

    And speaking of the school board, it is high time that we have people other than retired teachers and political gadflies serving. That speaks volumes about voter apathy in Oak Ridge as pertains to the school board.

  4. on 17 Oct 2007 at 4:31 pm Netmom

    C’mon Harry… surely you do realize that the last THREE mayors have been Woodland residents? And City Hall precinct (what you call Scarboro) has been represented on Council for as long as I can remember.

    I don’t have a problem with that. But, they were fairly elected by ALL of Oak Ridge.

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