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Let's cut the baby in half

In a guest commentary elsewhere on this page, Commissioner Dan Holub tries playing King Solomon with the Marion County Economic Development Council.

We can’t help but wonder whether a literal interpretation of Solomon’s wisdom might be in order.

Two women each contended that a surviving baby was theirs. Solomon ordered the baby divided, with half given to each. When one mother objected, urging the king not to kill the child but instead to give it to the other mother, Solomon knew that the objector was the true mother. He gave her the baby.

Perhaps we should wait to see whether the county’s big towns or little towns are the first to come to the conclusion that economic development is more important than their individual vision of how the council should operate, then adopt the concept of the more conciliatory group.

As is, neither group is on the side of the angels. Both claim to be democratic (500 residents per vote vs. one vote per town). In truth, both disenfranchise 35 percent of the people paying the bills — county taxpayers who live in unincorporated areas, including some of the county’s most important development tracts, Marion County Lake and Eastshore.

We’re no Solomon, but we note that having a House and a Senate was how the Constitution solved a similar dilemma.

Perhaps we need two groups:

A coordinating council with the county economic development director as chair could include all professional economic development staff members and any interested town officials as members. Their task would be to forge consensus and cooperation among development efforts individual entities within the county seek to undertake.

Voting authority over financial matters would rest with a separate group, composed entirely of citizens — no elected or appointed officials. County commissioners, not mayors, would appoint members. Each commissioner would name an equal number, using whatever criteria he or she desired. The county director would serve as non-voting secretary and be required to present recommendations from the coordinating council before money could be allocated.

Then, perhaps, we could get back to developing the county’s economy rather than developing animosity among those charged with this vitally important task.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified July 30, 2009

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