What the Legislators Are Missing About Regional Government

What the legislators are missing, or not, is this paragraph in bills for Hampton Roads Regional Governments:

“To the extent funds are made available to the Authority to do so, to employ employees, agents, advisors, and consultants, including WITHOUT LIMITATION, attorneys, financial advisors, engineers, and technical advisors, and, the provision of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, to determine their duties and compensation.”

Don’t give that power to a council of city and county officials and some reps from the General Assembly.

Of course, this is precisely what the politicians want.

You can take Del. Leo Waldrup’s Bridge and Tunnel Authority and strip out this paragraph. Have the Bridge and Tunnel Authority collect money and decide what big projects to do, but give the executive function to adminster, manageand oversight to VDOT and the Governor.

I spoke to a very Conservative delegate this weekend. The delegate didn’t get the idea that the authority needed to be limited. Maybe I didn’t say it clearly enough.

It looks bad. Republicans are going to create a new level of unelected, unaccountable government for Hampton Roads. They may not do in the House Finance Committee, but they will roll in the Conference because they don’t understand what they are doing, or cynically, they understand exactly what they are doing.

The voters be damned. Our votes in ’98 and ’02 (and some in 05 against Kilgore’s Regional Governments) were meaningless when they come between politicians and much more power.

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6 responses to “What the Legislators Are Missing About Regional Government”

  1. Yup.

    Same thing happened in Oregon when voters rolled back some of the overly restrictive land use regulations in a state wide referendum. Special interests and a powerful bureacracy worked to get the bill overturned in the Supreme court.

    The voters came back and renacted the bill with an even larger majority, yet the bureaucracy and special interets are still trying to hamstring it.

    Democracy is great, what is it going to take to get the government to go along with it?

  2. “give the executive function to adminster, manageand oversight to VDOT”

    Are you kidding?

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    give to VDOT … who is …

    unelected and unaccountable….

    this is the cure .. better path than regional governments?

    methinks you’re going to have to “sell” this concept….

    tell me why VDOT is “better”

  4. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    So why not elect people for the regional transportation board? We didn’t used to elect school board members, but now we do.

    I suspect that an elected regional transporation board, which does not need to be huge, would provide more clear direction on growth and transportation issues. I suspect, for example, that an elected NoVA regional board would be strongly dominated by slow growth members who would be reluctant to fund projects that fostered more development. I guess I just answered my own question.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    JAB, I agree, that language disturbs me mightily. Indeed, I have worries about the very concept of regional transportation authorities and the choice of taxes used to fund it

    I would suggest that an alternative exists: Congestion-pricing on major transportation corridors. Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton, has introduced a package of bills that could accelerate the adoption of this concept. Not only would congestion pricing encourage drivers to use alternate transportation modes, not only would it increase freeway capacity during rush hour, it would bring in new revenues in a user-pays arrangement.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Jim Bacon: Concur – in the meantime don’t give a politicians in a new level of government this power.

    Toomanytaxes: If you absolutely positively have to have a regional government – and you don’t – then I concur – have them run for that office.

    Insider: If VDOT can’t do what they are supposed to do, then fire and fix. Don’t hand it over to the geniuses elected to – say Hampton City Council.

    Larry: VDOT is accountable for appointed personnel to the Gov and for budget to the GA.

    Read my piece in today’s Rebellion – I explain how you are giving legislative, executive and judiciary powers to a Regional Government. We don’t do that for any other level of government. We shouldn’t do it for Regional Govt. It’s the opposite of Madison’s genius.

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