OPINION / Al Alborn: The Wisdom of Marty Nohe, Part I
by Al Alborn
The Alborn Foundation
Marty Nohe is my Coles District Supervisor… my friend… a guy who owes me lunch… and a really smart individual. I attended Marty’s town hall earlier this week just to get his point of view on the state of the County. When he talks, I listen (because he’s a really smart guy).
I don’t always agree with him, but I always listen.
In response to a question that really doesn’t matter (and I can’t recall anyway), Marty said that there are just some things that only Government can do. I have heard him say this many times before.
We look to Government to provide for our public safety, make sure there are cops on the street, fire fighters ready to save our homes, emergency techs on alert to get us to the hospital (and here’s a shout out to the EMT’s at the Lake Jackson Fire Station who saved my life), a system of justice to sort out disputes and punish the evil doers, and probably a few other “big things” that I just don’t recollect at the moment. If we have a Katrina event, only Government has the resources to orchestrate a response.
These things are obvious. They are “core services”. There is little question that we need “Government” for the big stuff.
Once we get off this list, I begin to question why Government is involved. Where do we draw the line?
I notice that Prince William County Office of Management and Budget recognizes that their is a much higher level of public interest in the budget process this year. The overview of the process for developing budget scenarios was presented at at the BOCS last Tuesday, 25 September 2012. Melissa Peacor is going to give a rather extensive presentation on budget choices at the next BOCS meeting on 2 October. You may get the best picture of our budget process and the “gears and levers” by going to Prince William County’s Office of Management and Budget website. They will probably open up the budget questions data base shortly.
Like a lot of folks, I’ll be watching the entire FY2014 budget process with great interest. We all look for different things. Some may think that Prince William County’s tax rate is too low. Others, such as myself, will think it’s too high.
Since our County Board of Supervisors are Republicans and self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives, I expect them to fall into the latter category. In past years, nobody really paid attention to the process or prepared “report cards” regarding our elected officials fiscal conservative bona fides.
That’s changed. We will be keeping score. We expect “truth in packaging”. The budget is where Republicans are expected to deliver.
So, I’ll be thinking about Marty’s wise words,
There are just some things that only Government can do.
I suggest that the corollary is,
Government should stay out of things that others can do quite nicely without them.
When we start talking about things that don’t require Government, things that the private sector, faith based communities, or the free market can handle, things that are opportunities for new small businesses and new jobs, I question Government’s involvement.
I would particularly ask our self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives to push hard for a justification to spend taxpayer dollars on things that really don’t require the involvement of the Government.
I only request that our Chairman and Supervisors review the list of functions that will be presented and ask the simple question for each and every one of them.
Why exactly are we doing this again?
Addendum: Marty, you still owe me lunch!
A note about the picture: I “love” this photo! For those curious about the hand in the background, that belongs to the wife of Marty Nohe’s opponent for Coles District Supervisor in 2011. I’m sure she thought this was a good idea at the time. We were both working the Penn Voting Place at the same time albeit for different candidates (The woman for her husband, me for Marty). I was going to Photoshop it out… but decided it’s just too funny. This is my favorite souvenir from the 2011 election.
This is my opinion based upon the facts that I have found. Alternate opinions welcome. I’m always available to join anyone over a cup of coffee who wishes to learn more. My office is the Starbucks at the corner of the Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road in Prince William County, Virginia.
For a decent conversation, I’ll buy.
by Al Alborn
The Alborn Foundation
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