Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Didn't We Already Cover This?

From Brian Hornback, Knox GOP Chair:
The Brian's Blog team will be doing some research to determine what if any advantage there is for Knox County having a Charter. A review of pros and cons. County Commissioner Mike Hammond of Friday remarked in an interview. "I'm not sure we need a Charter."

Didn't the citizens of Knox County fairly decisively determine they wanted a charter back in 1988? Have there been any significant calls for revocation or amendment to the charter in the intervening years (save the metro government initiative a few years back)?

These sentiments have been shared by public officials and citizens to Brian throughout the weekend and week. Keep in mind that before Friday only 2 out of 95 counties in the state had a Charter form of government. There has been a decline throughout the country in local governments having a Charter form of government.
Keep in mind, Brian and others, that the opinions you gather over a weekend will tend to be those closest to your own views and mindsets. The folks you associate over a typical weekend will likely be folks at your church, friends in the neighborhood, political allies, etc. Therefore any "concensus" you might glean from a weekend's worth of "fact-finding" are likely to be very similar to your own views and each others. You're more likely to be exposed to dissenting opinions during the workweek and out in the public at large.
A proper first step would be to have a refrendum with a simple question of Shall, Knox County have a Charter form of Government? If it passes then pursue a Charter Commission, if it fails than begin prepartion to revert to the normal structure.
Again, we had a referendum 18 years ago that voted in the charter. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. It seems fairly obvious to me that some people in the County would be glad to keep term-limits from being re-imposed, and are siezing an ideal opportunity to "revisit" the idea of a charter's existence.
It is possible that the Charter could be an instrument or fad, who's time has come and gone. Similar to the schools that were built with open style classrooms that were designed in California in the 1970's, they were then bulldozed and replaced while Knox County is still living with at least 3 of these schools, today.
I'd like to think political parties could be declared a fad as well, but not much luck in that.

But simply bringing up the possibility can plant seeds of "are we out-dated? are we behind the times?" in the public mind without it being true. Case in point, the schools example here. I don't have any idea the validity of the argument that "open classrooms" are good, bad or indifferent. All that's stated here is California used to have them and we have three of them still. Maybe they're great schools? Could be. But this comment implies that because they came from California in the 70's (considered a kitschy decade to most people) they must be bad. Like they still had plaid furniture with suede wallpaper and lava lamps in the classroom...

Hey, maybe these three schools are lousy. It doesn't matter. I could just as easily the idea of charters to a fabulously successful venture that began in the 70's and give you a completely different perception. Like, oh, let's say this - there was a computer networking adventure that began in earnest in the late 60's, early 70's. Maybe you heard of it: "ARPANET". That network eventually evolved into a little venture they call today the Internet. Maybe you've heard of it.

Knox County voters opted to govern themselves with a charter in 1988. That's it. Work to fix the charter, like Mayor Ragsdale is doing. Don't pretend there's a groundswell of sentiment from the citizenry to abolish it.

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