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Losing weight, getting lean

May 4, 2012

Small government is good in a small town.

Big government in a small town is bad.

That’s why we like what the Mammoth Town Council did the other night.

Acting almost under the radar, the council took quick, decisive action in streamlining the town government at the commission level, dissolving the useless Public Arts Commission, combining the transportation wonks into one commission and downsizing all over the place.

That’s bad news for the people who don’t have a whole lot to do around here except sit on commissions, but we’re not going to spend any time fretting over that. It will give them more time to work on their golf games, we figure.

There is only one citizen commission that is important, anyway. That would be the Recreation Commission.

The Rec Commission, which was downsized from seven members to five, makes policy decisions over the administration of Measure R and Measure U funds. Given the town’s fiscal realities, the Rec Commission therefore is the only body that can get creative with guaranteed (supposedly) incoming money.

It oversees a host of other things, such as youth soccer, youth football, the ice rink, gymnastics, our parks and so on. We need that stuff in a recreation-oriented town, but we don’t need seven people to do that. In fact, if it were up to us, we’d downsize it even further, to three.

The other commission that has legs is the Planning Commission, but it has been rendered useless by the Depression.  It doesn’t have much to do these days. With building projects at a standstill, there isn’t really anything much to plan.

The re-zoning project is done and the sign ordinance is done, too. If the Planning Commission took a year off, say, we doubt anyone would notice.

As for the other commissions, many of them have so many vacancies coming up (see article, P.1) that it would take a month for the council to interview and vet candidates—an obvious waste of time.

The big beneficiaries of this round of slashes and burns are members of the town staff, who are overloaded with work requests, many from the aforesaid useless commissions.

The big losers are people like us in the media, who have made much of our living off the wanton and frequently bombastic doings from the Suite Z dais.

We’re guessing we’ll shed no tears, though.

Even when the town was bouncing along in the big boom, we really didn’t need all this government at the mid-level stage. The town just got carried away with itself, that’s all. It’s human nature in a representative democracy.

You can check that out with the Department of Redundancy Department in Sacramento or Washington.

No more of that in Our Small Burgh, though.

Our favorite comment from the other night came from Councilman Rick Wood. 

When the council brought up the town’s Public Arts Commission, Wood waited about a hundredth of a second, and then said, “Dissolve it.”

That sounded like music to us.

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