Thursday, January 22, 2009
Turf War Over Roads
They are known in the biz as turf wars. And in government they can get really nasty as one unit fights another for power. Pull up a chair. The senate republicans are fixin' to launch a turf battle with one of the entrenched units of county government namely the county road commissions. These are the folks who run the road system in your neck of the woods and an influential state senator thinks your tax dollars can be saved if the system is regionalized or taken over by county commissions. The road commissions will not go without a fight. One leader says Senator Jud Gilbert is "barking up the wrong tree" if he thinks there are huge savings in abolishing the local units. Gilbert is not impressed. He has ordered his staff to nail down the savings and if they are huge, Gilbert has an ace up his sleeve to defeat the road guys and it's a good one. All of the road building interests want more money from the state but Gilbert hints he will sit on the money until he gets his way on revamping the road commission system. "If it becomes pretty clear to me that this is a huge savings and an efficiency, I could get to that point. I can't say that I'm at that point now" but he says he could get there. If he adopts that strategy, the road builders will have a choice. They can stand with the road commissions and defend their turf, or they could side with Gilbert, toss the commissions under the bus, and then grab the money from Gilbert. You can figure out which choice they would make.