Orange County, like other large counties in California, is full of cities, special districts and other local governments. With the state facing a persistent budget crisis, is it time to consolidate local governments into one?
Fred Smoller, a scholar and administrator at Brandman University in Orange County, says yes. He argues in a piece at PublicCEO.com that Orange County, with its 34 cities and 3 million people, should be consolidated into one city. And the cost savings are just the least of it. He writes that a consolidated City of Orange County, despite its size, would be easier to understand and thus more accountable to the public:
"Fragmented government undermines democracy. It is impossible for citizens and the media to monitor so many elected officials and candidates for public office. Long election ballots produce voter fatigue and disengagement from civic life. With no one watching, it is not surprising that we are the largest municipality in the nation to declare bankruptcy and that our sheriff is in prison."
Smoller's argument is a strong one and begs questions that people in various California regions could ask themselves: would government consolidation in your area make officials more accountable? And what sort of consolidation makes the most sense?