March 23, 2010
‘Blueprint’ purports to reshape government
King County Executive Dow Constantine recently unveiled his “blueprint for reform” to reshape the way King County government operates. It’s a step in the right direction, but it will take more than words to make us believers.
Constantine pledged improved customer service for taxpayers, better relationships with King County cities and the creation of a cabinet-level position dedicated to labor relations. But even more important is his tough-talk about coming to terms with county finances.
“Historically, when our revenues are down, the executive proposes cuts and the agencies respond,” Constantine told the council March 8. “We need every leader whose agency has a stake in the cash-strapped general fund to be at the table, discussing the impact of various hard choices on the people we all serve, because the deficit is everybody’s problem — not just the executive’s, not just the council’s.”
The executive called for a countywide effort to drive down the annual growth in the cost of doing business. He also discussed a cap on expenses when revenues rebound, so savings could be tapped during future downturns.
Councilwoman Kathy Lambert — who represents Issaquah, Sammamish and other Eastside communities — praised the plan.
Her leadership as chair of the council Government Accountability and Oversight Committee will be critical to the success of the blueprint.
“I look forward to implementing the commitment to sustainability, innovation and better use of technology,” Lambert said in a statement. “King County can best respond to the fiscal crisis by reforming how it does business.”
Councilman Reagan Dunn — who represents unincorporated areas south of Issaquah, said the plan echoed proposals he has made through the years. He said he would work with the executive on the proposal.
“I look forward to working closely with him to address the budget crisis we face this fall as well as other reforms along the way,” Dunn said in a statement.
With the support of County Council leaders, this reformation package might have a chance. But along with the public, we have grown cynical and want to see progress before we start the applause.