Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's get real

Mayor Alvin Brown -- ho, hum -- is calling for an "economic summit."
What is that?
It is a gathering of people to discuss how to increase employment in Jacksonville.
Those attending are the same people who have been trying to figure out ways to increase employment for years.
How are they going to be any more effective sitting in the same room? They all know all the remedies available and, truthfully, they are few.
Local government doesn't control local employment. The policies that affect business the most are set in Tallahassee, which is 175 miles away and, even more so, in Washington, D.C., which is 800 miles away.
The further away the politician, the less the accountability. But that is another issue.
Local government can do things to make it easier for business -- especially small business. This includes imposing only as much regulation as necessary, and keeping taxes low. It also helps to make easier access for things like permits.
But local politicians tend to worry more about big business, which really needs little help that they can provide.
What should Brown be doing?
He should be putting his newly appointed department heads in a room together and ordering them to provide him with a list of the cuts they would make in their budgets in case of a 10 percent reduction in funding.
This is an excellent exercise. It exposes the least necessary functions of government and also the management savvy of the bureaucrat.
It also gives a mayor a list to turn to when property taxes fall off, or state and federal funding is reduced. Admittedly, the latter is rare.
He also should be working with the City Council to fashion a smooth transition to a new employee pension plan that will not allow politicians to promise the moon in exchange for votes, and not have to worry about the consequences.
Sound, practical ideas are not likely to come from the dying daily newspaper. They are too busy praising Brown for everything he does. Because he is "historic," you know..
Whatever the hell that means.
If Brown helps get the local government through a tight period without dumping it all on the taxpayer, he might be up for the "historic" label, although other mayors have done pretty well on that score.
At the moment, he is just a guy with little experience in a new job and holding summits that are not likely to produce anything of benefit to the taxpayers.

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