Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hillsborough Government: Good Enough?

Hillsborough residents are in the midst of considering a change in our form of government from the current 5-member Township Committee.

Presently, the voters elect the committee members and then – at the January reorganization meeting - the members “vote” on which one of them will be the next Mayor and the next Deputy Mayor. Within minutes of this “vote” engraved nameplates with the names and new positions on them magically appear on the podium. [It has been suggested that they have a tiny little engraver hidden in the back room.]

As it is obvious that the designated mayor will be a member of the committee’s majority party, it can make for some interesting committee-appointed mayors. For example, there is the distinct possibility that our next mayor will be a person who has resided in Hillsborough something like three years and has had no discernible previous political experience simply because this person is a member of the majority and the others have already taken their turn.

Well, to return to the possible change in Hillsborough’s government…

After a lot of partisan fighting [which I don’t have the time or patience to cover here] the voters chose five people as members of a Charter Study Commission to analyze the forms of government available to Hillsborough, including our present form, and make a recommendation to the voters about our future form of government – keeping what we already have or a new form. We will then vote yes or no on their recommendation.

[Now that I think about that statement, if they recommend no change what happens? A vote of confidence? A vote that we have noted their recommendation? Hmmm.]

Although there may not be anything intrinsically wrong with our current form of government, I can’t believe that the same way we ran a bunch of farms over two hundred years ago can be an effective way to successfully govern a suburban bedroom town of 38,000 residents.

The current form may be good enough, but there may be a better or a best still waiting to be discovered and implemented.


It turned out that many confused residents already thought they were directly voting for Mayor and have said they would like to vote for Mayor. If nothing else, we can only hope that Hillsborough’s citizens become more educated about their government.

It would be great to have an anthropologist study this entire Hillsborough Charter Study Commission experience and publish a book.

Recently someone suggested putting all the involved politicians and their followers into the Dr. Phil House and letting them fight it out with Dr. Phil attempting to moderate. That suggestion has a certain amount of charm.

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