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Uncomfortable steps necessary to regionalization

There was always going to be that moment after years of talking and planning when rubber would finally meet the road in the process of developing a regional fire district. That moment was always going to be uncomfortable for someone.

Here we are, and our shoes are no sooner than tied with the intent of getting onto the road than we now have objections to the way we plan to run.

Bay Village’s Charter Review Commission unanimously approved a proposed charter amendment to appear on the November ballot that, if approved, would take the fire and police chiefs out of the civil service system. Also approved for appearance in November is a charter amendment that would give the city the ability to merge its law and finance departments with other governmental entities.

Change can be unpredictable and scary, even if you can be sure of what’s coming. Bay police and fire officials, skeptical of the moves, are well within their right to express concern.

Said Anne Jindra-Smith, head of the Bay Village police union, “… the review commission has gotten rid of some very important checks and balances on City Council’s power …

“She added her concern over the potential for nepotism and cronyism as a result.

You never want to relax your gaze on government, but with Jimmy Dimora’s shadow over Cuyahoga County and the recently revamped County Council as a beacon of hope, there are also examples of how those issues have been overcome. In fact, the County Council may be the best example of how regionalization could benefit the Westshore.

Look, the proposed amendments still have to go before Bay Village City Council for review to appear on the ballot in November. And then, of course, they have to pass muster with the voters in Bay Village to take effect.

But in looking around, new ideas – particularly those sharing the burden of public services – deserve their day in the sun. Our elected officials have spent considerable time and effort in studying these things.

New checks and balances will be developed, as surely there will be unforseen consequences of the actions we look to take.

Not trying something new is not a solution.

– This editorial appeared in the July 18 edition of the West Life newspaper.

 

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