Under the Dome column: Local control works best
Under the Dome
Before I became personally involved in politics, I used to watch the news on TV and yell at the newscasters. Now I can’t watch it at all. There is so much opportunity in government to actually solve problems and make the system work better for ordinary people, and yet we seem to focus on national politics and political turmoil as a form of entertainment.
I love working on state government issues, but I’m convinced that local town and county governments, school boards and other local involvement are also great venues to make a real difference.
We spend too much time and energy at every level dealing with and in some cases overcoming federal and state government mandates and regulations. Whether it’s control of our school standards and curriculum or administration of our far-reaching health care and social programs, one size does not fit all. The nine towns and vast rural areas that I represent often have completely different issues than Colorado’s Front Range urban corridor. I worked on and sponsored several bills this year that address these critical differences.
House Bill 122, one of the bills that I sponsored, increases the availability of online supplemental course content to support, primarily, teachers in rural and small schools. The program is ably coordinated by Troy Lange, my Roaring Fork Valley neighbor, who heads our local Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES). The result is local control of curriculum with the same quality as the big city.
I also sponsored Senate Bill 190, which addresses the improvement of administration of food stamp eligibility as well as other programs at the county level. I made sure that the counties, each with very different performance histories, had control of their own improvement processes.
We are working on an issue that made the news last Sunday, having to do with the administration and delivery of services to the developmental disabled by the 20 Community Centered Boards (CCB’s) around the state. Our local board, Mountain Valley Developmental Services, managed for many years by Bruce Christensen (thanks for your dedication and service) has very different resource needs and constraints than those in urban areas.
These are just three examples of why it’s so important to work for local involvement and control. In all three cases there’s federal money, state management and local administration in play, but I learned from my corporate days that the people actually doing the job know best how to do it better.
Consistent with the theme of this month’s column, I plan to attend meetings of town councils, county commissioners, school boards and others this summer. Please invite me to your favorite local meeting. And follow our travels on Facebook.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his second term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.