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Local control, schmocal control

From Lisa Falkenberg:

So, let me get this straight.

Government is the problem, not the solution. It’s a bumbling bureaucracy run by tyrants, cronies and other self-important suits who think they know better than you or I how to live our lives – UNLESS, of course, that bumbling bureaucracy operates under a pink dome on a well-manicured lawn in Austin.

Then, my dear reader, the government is the solution. The only solution. And if you and your local community dare to come up with your own solutions, well then, it is you who is the problem.

That seemed to be the perspective expressed by our newly elected governor, Greg Abbott, earlier this week while speaking to an influential group of conservatives at an event sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it,” Abbott said. “This is being done at the city level with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans. We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”

Silly me. I thought the “Texas model” was based on something called local control.

From the Express News:

Seriously, when Abbott decries the regulations that cities choose for themselves, he’s ignoring the other side of the equation. The state is so allergic to regulations, it often fails Texans. That’s why cities attempt to fill the void.

If, say, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the venerable Railroad Commission took the environmental impacts of fracking seriously, maybe folks in the city of Denton wouldn’t have felt compelled to pursue a fracking ban.

But beyond this, local control sort of strikes us as a Texas thing. Heck, when Abbott talks about pre-K funding, he often says districts should be able to choose how they spend those additional state funds, if they choose to pursue them. That’s local control.

From Tod Robberson:

“Our public education system is too centralized. One-size-fits-all solutions are pushed down from the top. We have too many unnecessary, unfunded mandates from Austin that tie the hands of our educators. The state should set high standards, provide the tools for success, then get out of the way.”

Those exact words were written by our incoming governor, Greg Abbott, in a guest column in May for the Waco Tribune. The fundamental message there reflects how Candidate Abbott felt about local control and, as he called it, the need for the state to “get out of the way.” So why is Abbott now reversing his philosophy and declaring that the state should intervene to circumvent local rights to govern how we live?

If Dallas, Houston or Austin wants to regulate the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, that is our business, not the state’s. That is, unless the state also wants to pick up the dime for cleanup of our roadways and waterways every time one of these bags gets discarded by a careless user. It is not enough for Abbott to declare that local ordinances shouldn’t get in the way of the free conduct of business.

[…]

Abbott seems to be maneuvering this argument in a way to justify state intervention in the regulation of gas-fracking operations. Just as is the case when local governments have a right to establish zoning rules — limits on where heavy industrial sites can be located, for example — local governments also have a right to say whether they want noisy, polluting fracking operations within their city limits. Abbott wants to take that right away.

Amazing. This is the same guy who fought so hard against increased federal intervention in our lives. When it comes to his perspective of top-down governance from Washington, he’s against it. But, somehow, he believes in the McCity concept that establishes uniform rules that must apply to all cities across the state. We all must look, smell, feel and behave the same, according to state mandate. Under Abbott’s vision, top-down governance from Austin is better than what we, the citizens of Dallas, Austin, Lubbock, Clarendon, Muleshoe, Brownsville and El Paso choose for ourselves.

Thank you, Greg Abbott, for restoring the concept of Big Government that you fought so hard in your campaign to wipe out.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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