Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cameron Bids the ULCT Farewell and Guest Blogs As Well

By Cameron Diehl, ULCT Policy Analyst and Soon to Be University of Colorado Buffalo (otherwise known as "the bearded guy")

As I have advocated on behalf of local government the past two years, I often explain that municipal issues are neighborhood issues. Be it the nearby subdivision or commercial development, local police patrols and fire protection or funding the sewer and sanitation facilities, what is debated within city council chambers and considered by city leaders directly affects the lives of city residents.

That is not to say that our cities are perfect in their decision-making nor does it preclude the constant criticism of government in general. For comparison purposes, I pulled up the Congressional minutes from last week. In a seventy minute span on Monday afternoon (7/23), Congress:

- Reauthorized the African Elephant Conservation Act and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994;

- Reauthorized the Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997;

- Amended the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998;

- Expressed that the United States should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India;

- Approved the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003;

- Congratulated the University of Wyoming Cowgirls for winning the Womens NIT (at least they are from the Mountain West Conference... even though I'm leaving for Colorado, GO UTES!!!)

(In Congress’ defense, they also distributed appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, money that will benefit infrastructure needs nationwide, including Utah.)

A popular political refrain is “get government out of our lives.” While life will probably continue smoothly with or without the reauthorizations of two different international elephant conservation acts, go ahead and “get government out of your life” on a local basis. We could stop collecting the garbage, plowing the streets, providing clean water or safe parks and eliminate local control over planning and zoning issues. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem quite as cut and dried anymore as “get government out of our lives.”

A key component of our upcoming “Making Life Better” campaign is to increase awareness of what local government provides everyday for our communities. We agree that government, yes even local government, should be limited and within its means. However we also believe that when desired by the citizenry, there is a role for government to “make life better”.

Then again, maybe by just NOT convening everyday, local government is "making life better." You be the judge. As for me, I'm taking a hiatus from the real world to attain a law degree. I've appreciated the people I've met, the issues I've studied and the tremendous opportunities I've had at the League. As a lifetime political nerd, it has been a phenomenal ride. I intend to be involved in civics and policy for years to come and I hope to renew friendships in the future. To good friends who read Lincoln's blog--farewell and keep reading. I know sometimes he gets long-winded, but he is a policy wonk. Lets be honest-- if you're reading this, aren't you a policy wonk too?

Go Utes, Go Jazz and Go Buffaloes!

(31 days until Utah-Oregon St.)