Last night a debate between Commissioner Tom Mallams and Kate Marquez took place. The topic: The proposed change in county government, also known as the Klamath County Charter. Mr. Mallams is against the Charter. Ms. Marquez is a proponent for the Charter.
The issue is not that complicated. Ms. Marquez’ main argument is that this move will place a professional in charge of management, and then be overseen by three part time county commissioners. This move will save the county money and better county government will follow because of a full time expert will be running the show.
Mr. Mallams counters these claims of cost savings. He has a three-page paper that documents why the proposed Charter form of government will actually cost more than what is spent today on county government. Mallams further's his case against the Charter by saying the comparison of this Charter proposal to Jackson county's form Charter run government is like comparing apples and oranges: this proposal has part time commissioners while Jackson county's are full time.
What the Charter proposal does is to change the entire structure of county management. The reason given is to save the county money. But let me ask this: if your goal was to lower your heating bill would you change the structure of your house? Of course not. You would close off rooms seldom used, you might turn down the thermostat a few degrees, you would put on a sweater and you might even buy some better insulated windows and doors. However the one thing thing you would not do would be to change your house's structure. Yet that is exactly what the Charter proponents claim their goal is — to save money. And to do so they say we must change the structure of how our county government is managed.
The Charter proposal is a very significant change to how the county would be run, and not a good one for voters. If passed, we the people will be removed one layer from the person who manages the county's business. Sure we can vote in and out part time commissioners but they will be mostly figure heads with no real influence. The person who gets paid the most in any organization is the real ruler of the domain, not who is at the top of an org-chart. Plus by making the commissioners part time the new County Manager will become the real influencer in county government and county government employees will be loyal to the County Manager, not the Commissioners.
This Charter proposal is a bad deal for voters. Today if we don't like how the county is managed we get an opportunity every two years to change management. In this new world of Charter government we would have little say, if any at all. As voters we like that control and should not give it up lightly. Charter proposals have come before and the voters in this county have said no. This time it is no different.
I urge you to vote no on the County Government Charter proposal this May.