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Our Opinion: Show leadership

September 22, 2001

That the county Board of Supervisors turned down a reorganization plan for the county government doesn't mean the supervisors and their constituents don't want to see a reorganization.

Almost everyone involved with or observant of the county's governance setup agrees that it needs anywhere from a tinkering to a major overhaul. The county supervisors seem to agree that something needs to be done; they just didn't like all the specifics of the reorganization put before the board last week.

Neither did we. We thought it was top-heavy and thick with bureaucracy. We didn't see it making the county government any more efficient. We saw it making the county fatter when times are already tough for the county economically.

The creation of four new, highly paid positions in the county government did not seem cost-effective or logical. Spending nearly $400,000 a year in salaries to create a new upper level of bureaucracy did not seem to be the place to start trying to make the county more efficient.

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Three of the positions would be for "deputy CEOs" who would work with specific department heads in designated sub-groups on areas such as budgeting (although county budget analysts already do that.) A fourth position would be created for an intergovernmental relations director who would lobby, analyze, meet, schmooze and do other such work for just under $100,000 a year. (We have heard from good and numerous sources that the job was already set to go to one person who already does such work locally, even though several people here at the Press alone wanted to throw their hats in the ring.)

County Executive Officer Ann Capela said any future discussions about the reorganization were a "moot point" because the proposal, which was her proposal, was turned down last week.

Instead of taking the rejection as a personal slap in the face and giving up on the idea of reworking the county government, Capela should regroup and come up with a better and more streamlined plan, one that will make for both a more efficient and cheaper-running county government, not a plan with a huge annual price tag and built-in bureaucratic buffers for her.

And it's not that Capela's plan was shot down before it reached flight. After careful consideration by the supervisors, it was voted down by a 2-3 vote. That is as close as a vote can get on the county board. The supervisors who voted against the plan said they think reorganization is a good idea and the structural reorganization proposed by Capela was not the problem. The cost was.

What Capela should do is put any feeling of rejection and petulance aside and simply present a better proposal.

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