Home Rule – pros and cons for recovery

Article from local newspaper in NJ re the Pluses and Minuses of Home Rule.

Proponents of home rule say the practice puts decisions in the hands of those most intimately familiar with a town’s needs — the town itself. But critics contend the practice leads to higher costs and results in some towns making decisions to the detriment of their neighbor.

“Home rule was nice when we could afford it,” said former Gov. Thomas Kean, who battled legislators and local officials on the issue when he was in office in the 1980s, even launching the first effort for a coastal commission that would have broad power over shore development. “Now it raises property taxes, increases the cost of everything we do and makes it very hard to make decisions affecting more than one town at a time.”
“On a simple planning level, the kind of impacts we’re talking about with sea level rise and climate change, they’re bigger system impacts and they don’t respect political boundaries,” said Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future, a planning-advocacy group,

2 thoughts on “Home Rule – pros and cons for recovery

  1. The Aristotelian Golden Mean is probably preferable to either of the indicated antipodes (I’m feeling classical this AM). My good friend Dr. Andy Felts has written about this over on the CARRI website (http://www.resilientus.org/dillons-rule-and-community-resilience/). Gov. Kean’s dollar arguments seem bogus, but I agree that coordination is difficult when many jurisdictions are involved. However, my observation is that state government will generally push for “one size fits all” pseudo-solutions that meet the state’s needs but may not meet the needs of individual communities. Greater efficiency, but often less efficacy than if communities work on their own. This is in line with Brian Walker’s observation that solutions of a problem at one scale may actually have negative consequences at both the next higher and next lower scales.

    Conversely, here in SC the Low Country is still working on coordination issues that arose from Hurricane Hugo (1989!). Personalities and distrust can derail even the best-intentioned efforts to get local communities to work together. The ideal solution thus seems to be for the state to act as the Great Convenor and referee, keeping the game moving toward a fair and optimal solution, but not trying to dictate the outcome or the final score.

    • I have seen many examples of city/county and local/state conflicts impairing the recovery process. Old grudges and grievances do not disappear when a disaster occurs.

      It would be good if some attention were paid to the working relationships. In LA the last resort was arbitration, in the aftermath of H. Katrina.

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