PD’s Frolik: Only One Question Voters Need to Ask Mayor, City Council Candidates: What Collaboration, Consolidation, Mergers Will You Pursue If Elected

Plain Dealer editorial writer, Joe Frolik, is one of my most favorite PD people. I got to know him a bit in 2007 when I regularly participated in WCPN’s weekly regional roundtable.

I loved his Sunday editorial, “Consolidation question should be uppermost of voters’ minds.” It was front and center on the Forum page. His gist: In recognition of this year being a municipal election year, when mayors and city council members run for election, retention or re-election, Joe suggests the following litmus test (and I do not mean that in a negative way but rather as the one question that he suggests voters should ask):

…let me suggest a question — one that my colleagues on the editorial board and I will certainly pose when we interview candidates seeking The Plain Dealer’s endorsement this fall:

“What collaborations, consolidations or mergers of city services will you pursue if elected?”

If the answer is something along the lines of “None that I can think of,” or “No, we’re good,” end the conversation right there.

Anyone who can’t see the need for local government to get dramatically more efficient isn’t worth your time — or your vote.

While I think voters can make that decision for themselves re: is the candidate worth your time, there’s no question that collaboration, consolidation and mergers fevers are in the air.

Dave Lange, the editor of the Chagrin Valley Times, minced no words about this topic in his most recent commentary, “Regionalism vs Duplication” which you can read below:

Regionalism vs. Duplication (Chagrin Valley Times 6/16/11)(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

And Governor Kasich this week made statements that push in the same direction but even more so, almost sending the message, if you don’t do it, we’ll do it for you.

I’ve made my position clear over the last two regular Council meetings: Pepper Pike should aggressively engage in the process that directly involves the evolution of the Chagrin Valley District Council.  Now is the time when we get our questions answered and can learn what we can and cannot get from the arrangement. Now is the time when we can raise points not only about what we need from the arrangement, but also regarding what we can contribute.

And now is the time to plan for how we would preserve the services which may not be compatible with the CVDC but which we decide we can afford to preserve, believe residents want to have preserved and actually support preserving on behalf of the City.

Here are links to three dispatch services studies I’ve received since sworn in in January 2010 regarding dispatch:

1. Baldwin Wallace study (received in the first quarter of 2010)
2. Tom Lekan study (received in late Spring 2010)
3. Study headed by Councilman Svetlik, Fall 2010 (note in particular pages 33-40, 41-45, 51-52, 63-70)

I’d also suggest people read this article from last week’s Chagrin Valley Times which indicates that Bainbridge Township, a community that is 25 square miles with over 11,000 residents, spends $300,000 to run its dispatch center. (For comparison, Pepper Pike’s Dispatch center is budgeted at $411,000 for 2011, the city is 7 square miles and we have just under 6,000 residents).  While they have no plans to join any regional efforts, they also don’t have the financial pressure to seek such alliances.

Please, regardless of your preference – and perhaps you feel you don’t know enough to have a preference (I certainly felt that way for many months), call us up and contribute your comments, concerns and questions.

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