Stick to the Knittin'

I said last week that I would throw out some ideas about vision for city government. I had hoped to do a comprehensive piece, but I was out of town over the weekend and now I have this darn cold that keeps me from getting up nice and early to write.

Thus, I might have to hit these piece by piece.

My initial goal for city government is that there should be less of it, and not more. It should assume the basic roles of government and no more. It should then endeavor to fulfill those roles as efficiently as possible.

What are basic roles for city government? Police. Fire. Roads. What else? Hmmm. 911?

Maybe an easier way would be to start by looking at the roles it should not assume, cut those out, and stop cutting when you think you have reached the basics. Should the City of Great Falls be in the water park business? The skatepark business? The power business?

In what can only be considered great timing, Walter Greenspan recently emailed me this piece about a small town in Illinois. This place has been wildly successful, so successful the town pays its citizens' taxes for them, by moving away from government involvement in private enterprise. In other words, the government in Crestwood, Illinois, isn't sticking its fingers into pies, it's pulling its hands out of the pies.

While this town, as a suburb of Chicago, certainly has a different situation than us, doesn't this at least give us an idea as to what way we should be trending? And aren't we trending, with our proposed $100 million plus investment in the coal plant, trending the other way?


Anonymous said...

I see that now the city wants a dog park! Hmmm. I know a little something about dogs having been a lifelong dog handler/trainer. (including a year in Vietanm as a military dog handler) A dog park is an accident waiting to happen. I think that everyone should have to experience breaking up a fight between twenty angry German Shepherds before being allowed to take a dog in! Is the city going to be liable when someone gets mauled, probably a kid??? But wait, primadonna and jonny lotten are MADE of money, OUR money! What a freakin' dumb idea. You see, every dog owner thinks little Fifi wouldn't hurt a soul. What they don't understand is the given the right circumstances, Fifi will tear someone's face off. But what the hell, let's do it!


WolfPack said...

Are you seriously suggesting that the city should not be in the park business? I'll acknowledge that the water park with it's current implementation is not a public service but the neighborhood pools and skate park certainly are. A dog park would be a great idea and I bet would appeal to young professionals. Not all dogs are bad just like not all ideas from city hall are bad.

GeeGuy said...

I don't think I suggested that the City shouldn't have parks.

I think the idea of public pools as separate enterprise funds is debatable.

I think the idea of a government owned water park is a bad idea.

I haven't said anything about the dog park. In fact, from what little I know about it, such a facility would tend to be more privatized: operated by a private entity on public land.

I didn't say all ideas from City Hall are bad ideas, Wolfpack. In fact, one of my next posts will be about something that I think was a great idea. It will also discuss, though, why the City should then let it go.

Anonymous said...

Done much dog training have you wolfpup? I've done a lot. And I'm tellin' ya that someone eventually will get mauled or killed. Then it won't seem like such a great idea. For example, we recently had a youngster mauled to death here in GF by a "friendly" dog who wouldn't hurt a flea. Dog parks are a baaad idea. I've seen the one in Missoula a couple of times and it scares the hell outta me every time I see it. Dog owners are some of the stupidest people around. Dogs become an extension of their penises. They want the biggest one around! And unfortunately, it works, because many owners are the biggest dicks around! (sorry gee guy for the colorful metaphor, but it makes my point) Ask any humane society expert. Most people get WAY more animal than they should. And then what do they do? They take them to dog parks. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't want to see anyone mauled (but I've seen many maulings), but it is inevitable. There's a friggin' REASON for leash laws! But hey, like everything the city does, let's march backwards until we reinvent the wheel REAL good!


WolfPack said...

Geeguy- Parks were outside of your definition of basic city services and the skate park was mentioned specifically so I drew the conclusion. LK brought up the dog park and I thought his take on the idea was short sighted and colored by his hate for city government and inconsistent love for a nanny state.

Anonymous said...

Wolfpup, my ONLY concern in this matter is saftey. I hate to see come kid mauled because of stupidity. I could care less what the city wants to waste money on next.


Anonymous said...

My friend lives upper Westside in Manhattan and I spent two weeks there in in March/April.

We took her tiny poodle to the dog park on the Hudson.

Some dog handlers had 10 dogs, some people had one or two.

Every owner is expected to clean up the poop their dog drops. Every owner is expected to watch their dog(s).

We all got along just fine.

Anonymous said...

As has been suggested:

It seems a foundational business structure, needed for enterprising minds, is stifled by the get-something-for-nothing mentality that permeates political thought these days.

Who has excessive influence on the body politic?

Is anyone addressing: HOW do you get Great Falls citizens to outgrow dependance upon the parent state?

Self-reliance is no longer ingrained into people as a Montana value. Just look at the monument to entitlement built by legislators like Schmidt, Tropilla(s), Ryan, Callahan, Golie, and Franklin. What an empire, what a legacy! (A billion tax dollars confiscated and a mere $400 rebate?)

IF politics is local, and it is, then why not take this information and make it our own:

1) Great Falls is a city of liberty where natural rights of individuals precede and supersede the power of the commissioners and legislators.

2) As Montanans, citizens of Great Falls City belong to constitutional republic in which government power is limited and employed for the purpose of providing legitimate public goods rather than for the benefit of insiders and narrow interest groups.

3) We are a free market in which persons, individually or collectively, have the natural right to sell goods and services to willing buyers, and in which the individual pursuit of economic opportunity benefits all.

4) And we are a free society where citizens solve social problems not only through government but also by working together in families, neighborhoods, churches, charities, and other private, voluntary organizations.

Anonymous said...

"natural rights"?? tee hee. Don't get out much, do ya?


Anonymous said...


You talk out of both sides of your mouth really well but rarely throw down something of substance.

RE: Anonymous 8:27 PM, October 09, 2007

Interesting post. Food for thought.