Recommended changes to Barnstable County government
By Andrew Putnam
Often times we find ourselves looking at our local governments and wondering if there is any room for improvement. When we do find room, someone usually forms a committee to explore options and come up with new ideas. Now let’s imagine this committee is made up of current and former politicians. What would you say to a committee of bureaucrats controlling the future structure of your government?
Two hundred years ago, a group of men got together with one goal in mind; to change how their government worked. These same individuals ended up creating a new government (which was not their initial intent). These men were not part of Parliament or Kings or Governors, yet they created the greatest democracy of modern times (if you didn’t get it yet, I am talking about the Founding Fathers). From the efforts of farmers, doctors, generals, blacksmiths, scientists, and lawyers came a country that no one had thought could possibly exist on its own.
It seems to me that the problem with the government is not its structure, but instead the people in government.
Let’s get back to the issue at hand though; why put bureaucrats in charge of shaping a government? You wouldn’t knowingly make the criminal the sheriff and call it a day. It seems to me that the problem with the government is not its structure, but instead the people in government.
Months ago the League of Women Voters on Cape Cod called for a commission on county governance in order to review the current structure and make recommendations on how we could improve County Government. So our County Commissioners said yes and tasked former State Senators Robert O'Leary and Henry Rauschenbach to put together the commission. Who did they hand pick to be on the commission? Former State Senators/Representatives, former County Commissioners, and current Delegates from the County Assembly all sat down to decide the “fate” of the Cape’s future.
The end result of this was a recommendation to eliminate the Assembly (the legislature that represents each of the 15 towns on Cape) and merge it with the Commissioners to have a stronger seven member executive body. They also recommended paying this new body twice as much as we pay our current representatives and creating the change without the approval of the residents of Cape Cod. If I have this right, this means we will have no direct representation, more pay for the elected officials, and no balance of powers?
So I want to ask the question one last time; why put bureaucrats in charge of fixing our local government? The solution isn’t an overhaul of the current government as they would say, but instead the replacement of the bureaucrats with fresh new faces.
Andrew Putnam, a resident of East Falmouth, is a Precinct 9 Town Meeting Member and the Affirmative Action Committee Chairman.