Who actually runs your government

March 24th, 2021 by Ken

If you think your elected officials run your government, think again.  The Covid pandemic and resultant shut-downs have exposed the dirty, little underpinnings of our society.  Elected officials may pass the laws, but its those they hire which actually run things.

Take education for example.  While our state school chief and our local school boards may seem to be in charge – the real power lies with the local school unions and those who run them.  While government wants to reopen schools, the unions have deemed them unsafe for its members.  In order to get teachers back in school, Congress has bribed them by allocating millions and billions of taxpayer dollars to get teachers back in class.  Much of that money will be siphoned off as additional benefits for teachers and directed by the unions which represent them.

While I’ve harped on the power of teacher unions before, power to control elected officials are often exercised by other government employee unions.  In Lacey for example.  The local police guild recently negotiated a 19 percent pay increase for all its members, making Lacey cops some of the highest paid law enforcement officials in the state – – outside of King County.  The increases were negotiated by the city manager.  And, while the city council approved those increases in the general budget, it had no choice but to do so since they were properly negotiated.  Council members have no say other than yes or no on the overall budget.

In our own Thurston County, manager Ramiro Chavez controls the flow of information and thus controls what the county commissioners see and hear.  Because we have a three-member commission, they are not allowed to talk with each other without violating the open meetings act.   They can’t tell their fellow members what they’re thinking.  Any flow of information between them is first relayed to Chavez or one of his employees, who may or may not relay it to the commissioner for which it was intended.  This control of information gives the county manager unlimited control over the knowledge received by individual commissioners.

Over the decades, as our government has grown larger and more complex, elected officials are often at the mercy of those whom they hire to manage the system.  These are just a few of the problems with our current system.

I have two suggestions.  Lacey should junk the council/manager form of government and look at a strong mayor form of government similar to Tumwater and what Lacey had in place originally.   This will give our elected officials some power to make decisions.  Thurston County should expand its commission to five members which would allow them to talk with each other without being censored by staff.  In any case, Thurston County has grown so large, that three members no longer suffice to handle regional agreements.

As far as government unions go – that decision will have to be made by voters who elect officials not beholding to the money or the power of these self-serving unions.

 

 

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News


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