Government gets a bad rap for being inefficient or wasteful. A lot of the time, it’s a deserved criticism. One only need look at the pension situation in Illinois, or the backlog of bills in Washington, to think that there has to be a better way.
But then there are times when it does work.
This week, Sycamore City Council approved a few ordinances that would allow the transfer of land from the city to DeKalb County. There also were agreements for the county to move earth in exchange for the city providing space the county needed for a road project.
In the end, everyone came out ahead, especially the residents of Sycamore and DeKalb County.
Why can’t it be this way all the time?
As a culture, I think we spend a lot of time paying attention to the big stuff, national news that includes the offensive tweet of the day or whatever reality TV star fell from grace through a scandal. Sometimes it’s more interesting, and sometimes you can be meaner than in polite society because the person on TV is not someone you’ll ever meet in real life.
But that stuff, while it occupies a large portion of our daily lives, actually has little impact on it.
The talking heads on TV say stuff in a compelling and interesting way, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it doesn’t impact my life much what happens in New York City or Chicago.
Local stuff, though? That’s huge. A project on Peace Road is going to affect me almost daily. I am constantly using infrastructure in DeKalb and Sycamore, either to drive or get a glass of water or to connect to the internet on my phone. Road projects are paid for in part from the gas I buy at gas stations on my way home.
The local stuff is what matters. Sure, things in Springfield and Washington impact us, but it’s usually in a distant way. What our neighbors do, and what our local governments do should take up a larger section of our brains.
So when two units of local government work together in a way that’s efficient and beneficial for everyone, that’s something that deserves some praise.
Sycamore and DeKalb County are the most recent example, but it’s something that I’m sure happens frequently, and there are plenty of opportunities. Heaven knows there are plenty of units of local government in Illinois to have frequent collaboration efforts.
When it happens, it should be highlighted and recognized, because it’s an example of government serving the people like it should.