Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The GOP's Disdain for Local Government

There was a time when a core value for Republicans was "local control". Their mantra was that communities were best left to govern themselves with minimal interference from the state.
That has changed in this new world of paternalistic Republicanism. The "new Republicans" believe that they know best. They ignore or subvert voter referenda, and they overturn local decision making whenever something does not fit with their world view.
The disregard of the voters' collective will has been well documented here and on many of the blogs you see over in the left column. Those one-finger salutes to voters include
  • Passing an emergency manager law to replace the nearly identical law overturned by voters
  • Preventing a statewide vote on the minimum wage through legislative tricks
  • Making the outcome of TWO overwhelming statewide votes against wolf hunting irrelevant, again using legislative trickery
  • Raising taxes on seniors and middle class families while cutting taxes for businesses, something wildly unpopular in polling
  • Failing (so far) to do a damned thing about the worst roads in America
Their disdain for local government and local decision making is part-and-parcel of Governor Snyder's appropriations bills which demand "best practices" to maximize (shrinking) state revenue sharing and K-12 funding. Of course, he is the one who decides what constitutes "best practices." If you don't do it the Governor's way, you lose money.
The "Emergency Manager" law gives a state-appointed dictator the ability to ignore local elected officials (and the voters who elected them). If he feels like it, the EM can even dissolve the local government and make it disappear. That is pretty much what happened to the Muskegon Heights school district. The Emergency Manager spun it off to a private company and told the school board to take a hike. (Ironically, the company gave it back to the state because owning the public school system wasn't sufficiently profitable.)
More recently our paternalistic, we-know-best solons have inserted themselves into local contract negotiations between elected school boards and teachers, decreeing that union dues cannot be collected through payroll deduction and, of course, decreeing that the locals cannot negotiate an agency shop agreement.
Now they want to tell taxpayers how their local tax moneys can and cannot be spent when it comes to local construction projects. House Bill 5977 would prohibit community benefit agreement ordinances, as well as paid sick leave, living wage, prevailing wage, local hiring and contracting, and other issues that deal with the relationship between a private employer and workers.
As a consumer, I have the right to decide how my money is spent. If I disapprove of the way Walmart treats its employees, I can choose to shop elsewhere unless they change their ways. Collectively, as local taxpayers, we should have the same right. If our community, through its elected officials, decides it only will spend our tax money in ways that coincide with our values, we should have that right.
But Republicans don't think so. They don't believe in prevailing wages, benefits for workers, family values represented by parental leave. So they want to substitute their values for the values of the people who are paying the bills: the local community.
Because Republicans know what is best for us. Thank you, Daddy.

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