The new Anti-Disestablishmentarianism

antidisestablishmentarianismist, duke ellington, mdhcd, mt diablo health care district, special district, dissoluttionA rather stuffy time ago in a distant island, there was a great battle over the long term and formal association of religious orders and the government. There were those radicals and progressives that rallied in favor of disestablishment and those strong conservatives that lead the Anti-Disestablishment fight. Aside from highlighting the stupidity of the British elites on both sides to be in such a mess in the first place, they at least could claim to have invented the then longest word in the English language: Antidisestablishmentarianism.

Nowadays, rather than being arraigned against religious orders, today’s battle is in the morass of special districts and conspicuous committees whose existence has long surpassed the intent of their creation and now exist with a religious fever of defense in their persistence that could rival the back benchers of late 19th century Westminster’s entrenched self avowed elite screaming, “Tradition”!

It is a sad fact of local government that such district and committee members will mostly seek to stay in existence regardless of need or purpose. They are the modern Anti-Dissolutionmententarianist.

Case in point.

The Mount Diablo Health District was established with the fine intention of running the district’s hospital, supported taxes paid by the fair citizens of Central County. Alas, ye olde MDHCD’s inability to combine with the hospital to master all the economic forces at work left the sad situation where they could see no recourse but to yield their one asset, the hospital, to a private enterprise and then rather than going away like any failed establishment, it lingered with a self-serving habit of spending more on themselves and running up liabilities than they did with directing the public’s tax funds to health projects.

What functions MDHCD did have (such as appointing themselves to the charity board of John Muir where the real money is) could have easily been transferred to city councils and local non-profits. Yet, when the Dissolutionist came forth from the roiling sea, the members would cast themselves spasmodically into some public show project with promises of better to come, only to fade away into their own weighty web of introspection and in-fighting once the glare of public inspection wandered elsewhere.

Though three grand juries urged MDHCD dissolution, the moribund body persisted in its anti-dissolutionentarianism by an astounding deft display of duck and cover, deflection and feint.

Oddly the battle lines here are not as clear as in the British squawk about. There are still some that believe government can and should be an instrument to promote the general welfare in an effective and economical manner. These modern progressives are appalled at the corruption of purpose and practice of such special district entities for they demean and detract from the promise and hope for effective government.

These latter day Whigs (Blue) are joined by their more conservative Tory (Red) neighbors who rail against government in any form for the most part and especially anything that could be a waste of taxpayers’ money. Not that the two sides could agree on much in terms of scale or details of what is not a waste of tax payers’ money. But, clearly, this is a situation where at least in calling for dissolutionism they are united in asking for the end to the district as a waste of money, but with totally different agendas and conceptual backgrounds. Such are the alliances of politics.

Firmly I believe, that all Special Districts should have as part of their By-laws and creation, the method, means and rationale for its dissolution and a complete plan for the dissolution when those circumstances are reached. In this manner the very nature of a ‘special district’ can always be clear in the mind of the citizenry and a constant reminder that when the special conditions for the special district no longer exist, its demise is both planned for, and hoped for, as a display of the efficiency we should expect, though rarely get in government.

Comments

  1. Wendy Lack says

    Hey, Edi, I like it. Sort of a governmental pre-nup before new agencies are created, with an agreed exit strategy predefined just in case the happily ever after doesn’t last.

    The problem is that this concept is antithetical to the inherent nature of government, characterized by: 1) a continuous quest to increase power, often driven by [ultimately destructive] good intentions; 2) a belief that Man cannot be trusted to make his own decisions and Government knows best; and 3) declining efficiency with greater size, scope and distance from the governed (a la Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” See http://www.heretical.com/miscella/parkinsl.html). Pols don’t cede turf without getting something in return.

    As just sayin observes, the MDHCD is one of several special districts in the county that have remained on shelves far beyond their respective expiration dates. But as Supervisor Piepho said during LAFCO’s recent discussion about dissolution of MDHCD, there’s no basis for Electeds to act absent “public outcry.”

    So, Edi, your plan has merit, it may require a public revolt and lottsa “outcry” to implement. And ultimately Magnus may be right: Government is incapable of policing its own growth because it is contrary to its inherent nature. Your plan may go the way of balanced budget amendments and debt limits . . . just talk, no substance — just another rule to circumvent, another hurdle to jump over.

    For now, we’ll stay tuned to the MDHCD show. Since the District is considering buying promotional ad space on County Connection buses, BART stations and other venues in its perennial quest for relevance (and in a misguided effort to spin 3 Grand Jury reports, et. al.), it’s looking like there’ll be plenty to watch.

  2. just sayin says

    Here’s a list of the special districts in CoCo County, Edi, go get ‘em.

    Independent Special Districts: Crockett Community Services District, Diablo Community Services District, Discovery Bay Community Services District, Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District, Knightsen Town Community Services District, Kensington Fire Protection District, Moraga- Orinda Fire District, Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District, San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, Mt. Diablo Healthcare District, West Contra Costa County Healthcare District, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, East Contra Costa Irrigation District, Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District, Ambrose Recreation and Park District, Green Valley Recreation and Park District, Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District, Rollingwood-Wilart Park Recreation and Park District, Byron Sanitary District, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, Ironhouse Sanitary District, Mt. View Sanitary District, Rodeo Sanitary District, Stege Sanitary District, West County Wastewater District, Contra Costa Water District and Diablo Water District, Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District

  3. Magnus the Destroyer says

    I like this article overall, as it points out the inner disease of every government beauracracy in the State, from the top all the way down to the local levels. It’s this sense of entitlement, that your job must remain no matter how frivolous or irrelevant. One can’t blame such people, after all it’s a basic human instinct to self-preserve. But another basic trait is integrity, and most people don’t have the integrity to pull the plug on themselves when they are no longer relevant and are just dead weight.

    “Firmly I believe, that all Special Districts should have as part of their By-laws and creation, the method, means and rationale for its dissolution and a complete plan for the dissolution when those circumstances are reached. ”

    Oh, god, no, they’ll just start gaming society to preserve themselves. They’ll find reasons to extend the usefulness or purpose of the district to other pursuits or programs. They’ll justify it with nonsense. Law suits will be filed. Much money will be spent. In the end the courts will rule that government has a right (now that they are into granting rights to non-persons) to determine its own direction as to the service and benefits it provides to the People because some lawyer will argue that only government is qualified to know how to manage a complex society such as we live in. Same old same old.

    Government doesn’t grow, it metastesizes.

    Let’s go back to tribalism. Call it modern groupism so the liberals and progressives will come aboard. Everyone walk outside and look up and down your street: that’s your tribe. Get to know everyone because you’re all relying on each other now. Tribes can then form alliances with neighboring tribes to promote trade and commerce. Each tribe can draw up its own bylaws and local rules and such. Everyone will get along. If not, they can move to other tribes that are more to their liking, swap houses even with other tribemembers that maybe want to try living like another tribe for a week to see if they like it, stuff like that. Think of what fun it would be. People would relax again. Obnoxious tribes can be dealt with by shunning (bring overt shunning back as a societal punishment!) or through firearms if they are particularly nasty towards other tribes and make themselves a constant threat. Everyone get along now, and we won’t have to use the guns. Simple.

    I think we can all just get along, but we won’t. We’ll devolve into a bickering mob of mediocrity until our so called society collapses into chaos and ultimately the tribes I discuss above, albeit in more traditionally male dominated structures. Devolution.