Our community is enjoying and hopefully benefitting from some vigorous debate over Kootenai County’s form of government: Three elected commissioners holding the pursestrings and setting policy, and six additional elected officials — clerk, coroner, treasurer, sheriff, prosecutor and assessor — overseeing other areas of responsibility.
The current type of governance works. The question before us, though, is could it work better?
Every citizen is entitled to his or her opinion. In 2012, as a matter of fact, voters clearly expressed theirs. They rejected a proposal to move to a form of government that would employ five part-time commissioners who themselves would employ a manager or administrator. That person would run the county’s day-to-day operations.
Fast forward five years, and there are still strong opinions on both sides of the argument. Former Commissioner Dan Green, who was one of the driving forces behind the proposed changes in 2012, shared background and his perspective in a recent two-part analysis published by The Press. Others have also been given an opportunity to share their thoughts. In one case, today marks the second time a citizen has weighed in on the topic. Sadly, her spirited defense of the status quo devolves into a personal assault on Dan Green’s character.
Dan doesn’t need the newspaper to defend him. And it’s true, as the letter purports, that county commissioners (Green didn’t serve alone) spent large amounts of money trying to come up with a predictable, fair and comprehensive land development code for Kootenai County’s diverse rural properties. But the writer goes too far in impugning the man and weakens her arguments in the process.
Unlike most who have sought a seat on the Board of County Commissioners, Green didn’t need another job. A successful owner of his own business, he was financially set for life. But Green is that rarity among our species: He sought public office because he wanted to serve the public. He had prospered; he wanted to give back.
To suggest that Dan didn’t seek re-election in 2016 because he’d “lost the trust of freedom loving citizenry” is off target. He’d easily won three-way primary elections in 2010 and 2012 and was unopposed in those general elections. While he had taken controversial stands on several issues, smart money would not have been betting against him had he sought re-election in 2016. The minority of Republicans who enjoy feasting on their own party remains, thankfully, just that — a minority.
For anyone to accuse Green of favoring the change in government because he wants to be county manager shows how out of touch with reality the accuser is. But then, conjuring up the specter of UN Agenda 21 doesn’t exactly bang the gong of credibility, either.
What’s ironic is that the central source of the personal attack on Green — the land code headache and expense — could have been averted. Had Kootenai County employed a competent manager and required three votes of commissioners rather than two, most of that money might still be in the bank.