Friday, November 02, 2012

4-3 Vote Is "Loud and Clear"?

The Omaha World-Herald said Douglas County sent a "loud and clear" message to the Nebraska Legislature that it opposes merger of Douglas County with the City of Omaha. It was a 1-vote margin with strong opposition.

If you want a comprehensive rundown of the issues, go to the search box in the upper left corner of this blog and type in "city county merger." You'll get a dozen or so posts on it, including a couple that address the objections raised by merger opponents.

Politicians tend to oppose merger for two reasons: 1) they are defenders of the status quo favored by unions, and 2) they represent areas on the periphery of Omaha that enjoy the standard of living Omaha offers without having to Omaha's property tax, while getting services from the county subsidized by Omaha taxpayers.

There was the usual whining about merger being too complicated and more expensive to taxpayers instead of less expensive. Cities and counties all over the country have merged and made local government more efficient and taxpayer-friendly. Are we too stupid to do it? No, we could do it, but Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle can't accomplish it alone. It will take the kind of bold leadership from local office holders that is lacking in city and county government.

Among the announced 2013 candidates for mayor of Omaha, Brad Ashford has made the most noise about merger. He could differentiate and strongly identify himself by aggressively and convincingly explaining this issue.

The one time merger was on the ballot locally, it was supported overwhelmingly. In the 1998 vote approving a state constitutional amendment authorizing city-county merger, the yes vote in Douglas County was 65%, with at least 50% voting yes in 348 of 361 precincts.

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