Letters to the Editor

A simpler way to govern | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

At this time, with citizens of as well as non-residents of the city of Langley showing impatience with and some level of dissatisfaction with its governance, I would like to offer a suggestion for a simpler approach.

Having lived for a short time in an even larger community that has run well for over 200 years under such a system, I would like to propose a change to a town-meeting form of government for Langley.

The way such a system would work is that all policy and general governance decisions of the city would be decided and agreed to in an annual town meeting, attended by any and all residents, presumably those of an age and maturity the same as our current voting requirements.

Their decisions would be to amend and/or accept, agree to, and pledge to support the annual operating plans and operating budgets prepared and presented by the directors of the various city departments, such as planning, zoning, police, public works, water and sewer, building, accounting and any others the city deems necessary to maintain smooth and fair operations of common services for all of its residents.

This would also place full responsibility for these technical operations directly in the hands of trained, knowledgeable experts in those fields, hired by the city with just those qualifications. An untrained mayor or manager would not be forced to make technical decisions for which he or she might have no qualifications.

The new charter would not contain provisions for any elected officials such as mayor, city council and the like, thus obviating the need for costly and divisive things such as campaigning and elections. Responsibility for management, hiring and firing, payments for time and services, etc. would be spread across the entire population, at least among those willing to make the effort to attend and participate in the annual town meeting.

The cost savings of such a system could be substantial. There would be no need for paid positions such as mayor or city manager, the city’s operations would be open and transparent to all interested parties (within the city, of course), there would be fewer instances where one or another person could be blamed for imaginary slights or misbehaviors, and a new era of maximum participation, minimum blame might result.

So, cheaper, more open, more democratic, more participative, socially constructive, all things we claim are desirable aspects of local government. What could possibly be better.

Charles Scurlock


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