Legislators Need to Stay Out of Local Government
If there's one thing our Legislature just can't resist, it's meddling in the affairs of local governments. From the spat between North Salt Lake and Salt Lake City to the Sandy soccer stadium to the election of school board members, the Legislature isn't afraid to jump in when it disagrees with what a city or county is doing and flex some muscle. By doing so, however, they're being tremendous hypocrites and interfering with principles of good government.
One of the founding principles of a weak federal government is to make sure that the elected officials furthest removed from their constituency had the least amount of direct control over their lives. This principle holds sound for states as well. A city is simply better equipped to immediately dispatch police or fire help, fix the potholes on Elm Street and be more in touch with the people they are supposed to be governing. Additionally, the representatives at the city level live in the areas directly affected by their decisions. Being directly effected by the decisions being made keeps leaders more effective and accountable to the people. State government can lose that perspective, especially when representatives come from such a large geographical area.
What's shameful is that some choice legislators seem to think that the State is a club they can use to bonk localities on the head. Sen. Eastman has crafted a bill to completely upend annexation rules just to give North Salt Lake, a part of his district, an upper hand in wresting control away from Salt Lake City. In his quest to pander to constituents with a shameless special interest bill, he completely disregards the ramifications this could have state-wide. An embarrassing number of legislators circled around the dying carcass of the Real Salt Lake stadium in Sandy to breathe new life back into it. This is despite an overwhelming number of us in Salt Lake County not supporting this fiasco and our County Mayor deciding he couldn't put our tax dollars at that kind of risk. Now the entire state is on the hook for this corporate welfare at such a dizzying pace that folks outside of Salt Lake County barely know what just hit them.
The irony of all this meddling is the Legislature's firm rejection of No Child Left Behind as unnecessary meddling in the affairs of the state and participation in the Sagebrush Rebellion of the early 80's to protest federal land control policies. How is it that a government body that soundly rejects top-down authority used on it is perfectly willing to exercise it on others? It defies the logical mind and offends my sense of propriety.
The Legislature is going to be in for some tough times if it's going to continue to insist upon bullying others into doing what it wants. Sooner or later, we all push back.