In our March 24th meeting, Commissioner Cassanelli said that the form of government doesn’t matter as much as electing good people. In one sense, she is right; no constitution can rule people who ignore it-and too many officials do. However, one of the reasons that they can get away with ignoring constitutions is lack of separation of powers.
We have separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches on both federal and state levels for a reason. James Madison gave those reasons in Federalist Paper #51:
“In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own; and consequently should be so constituted that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others. Were this principle rigorously adhered to, it would require that all the appointments for the supreme executive, legislative, and judiciary magistracies should be drawn from the same fountain of authority, the people, through channels having no communication whatever with one another….
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
As Jesus said, “There is none good but one, that is, God.”
Our three County Commissioners make our local rules, enforce the rules, and are the first judges of the application of the rules. There is no separation of powers: they can make unreasonable rules; enforce them unequally; and judge them unfairly. We, the people, should elect separate bodies to do each of these things.
As an executive administrator, three Commissioners are too many for the quick action that an executive must sometimes take. Ex-Grants Pass City Manager Frasher complained that, when he needed sandbags from the County for a flood, he was unable to obtain them quickly, because all three Commissioners had to meet to authorize the expenditure.
Mr. Frasher was appointed by the Council, rather than elected by the people, so the people could not get rid of him without changing the Council-which they did. The new Council majority fired him, but not without months of drama, and then five Councilors were recalled for their trouble.
Grants Pass needs an elected executive Mayor, and Josephine County needs an elected executive Supervisor and a larger Board. Two people make all decisions on a three-person board; 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 7 would give better representation and less concentration of power