Go, Brits. Maybe some of that spirit will rub off in Minnesota.
The three biggest complaints that the residents of the United Kingdom (U.K.) had of the European Union (E.U.) was that they did not have the power by voting: 1) to remove representatives from office who do not act in their interest, 2) to rescind operational laws and or oversight control enacted by others, and 3) to place the burden of government back on their elected representatives. The actual complaint relative to the latter was that the local elected representatives were collecting their pay while engaged in frivolous issues. In former times before the E.U. bureaucracy and the “laws of the collective,” the national elected representatives had almost all of the responsibility of government and the services provided for their constituents.
There are 28 countries in the collective E.U. (27 once the United Kingdom is out) that have operational and oversight rules-making control. According to the complaints, the bureaucratic control keeps growing, as all government does when the ruling elites can’t hold a day job.
In Minnesota, we have 87 counties. The people of 87 counties vote for a governor, who then appoints 15 members to operate the 4,000-employee Metropolitan Council. The Met Council is the most powerful government entity in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. We residents of the seven counties do not elect the members, and we share the responsibility with 80 other counties in deciding who should be governor. The Brits had the option of pulling out of the E.U. by voting, and they took it. The residents of the seven Twin Cities counties cannot vote their way out — they can only move out of those counties. This situation is the most undemocratic form of government in the U.S.
Local regional government acting, more or less, as an adviser and a coordinator is a recognized function by federal government. Wisconsin has several regional coordinating governments. Its southeast seven-county unit has only 69 full-time employees. The counties, cities and villages still have most of the operation and oversight control. That is, the people they elected make the rules and spend the money to provide service, and if those people don’t do the job, they kick them out. That is the way it should be.
The Met Council started out as a coordinating unit to facilitate water runoff as the water drains from higher elevation to lower elevation, passing through different jurisdictions. It was simple, common-sense coordination — have the smallest ditch and/or sewer at the highest elevation and the biggest ditch and/or sewer last before the water dumps into a river. But now the Met Council is into everything from land usage (overriding duly elected local governments) to public transportation that is paid for by the majority and used by few. The Met Council members are appointed by the governor, and although they may not be in lockstep politically with the governor, they are not opposed to the governor’s ideology — he is their boss. The next governor’s ideology may be different, and therefore the land usage could be different. The cities, counties and school districts have in some cases learned to jump one way for one set of Met Council members and a different way for members under a different governor. Spending money on infrastructure and schools to satisfy one vision and reversing it for another is ridiculous.
Recently, articles have been written on how to fix this quasi state-within-a-state, but these proposals are Band-Aids on symptoms. The real fix is to return the operation of service to the cities and counties and reduce the Met Council to 25 to 50 advisory or coordinating employees, with the Met Council members getting simple per-diem expenses. Make it advisory — we don’t need another layer of career bureaucrats or political appointees. Additionally, this would give elected city and county officials more of a real purpose by handling all of the services and coordination. Many would like it, but, of course, a few wouldn’t who want the job to make money and lots of noise without being responsible for all of the messy services.
Once again, go Brits. You have gloriously started to take back government.
Bob Svacina lives in Plymouth.