In these difficult economic times, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors needs flexibility in making financial decisions for county residents. Unfortunately, the board is hamstrung by an outdated requirement for privatizing some public functions.
It currently takes a super-majority to privatize, but Measure O would change that requirement to a simple majority. We support the change, and believe that a simple majority of supervisors should be able to privatize public-sector work.
While this would be a fundamental change for the county, there has been very little public debate of Measure O. That's too bad because voters have an opportunity to improve the operations of government functions in the county.
As The Bee reported earlier this month, if Measure O had been in effect, it would have made a difference in the recent efforts to outsource county security and privatize the public defender.
We believe the Board of Supervisors should move very cautiously in privatizing county functions.
A short-term financial gain for the county could prove costly in the long run. But we also believe the decision to privatize public-sector work should be made by a majority of supervisors, and not require four out of five supervisors to vote for such a change.
Each decision to privatize public services should be made on the merits of the individual case after a thorough study of the ramifications of the actions that are being proposed.
But the super-majority requirement is essentially a guarantee that a privatization decision won't be made in Fresno County.
The proposed change was pushed by Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who generally teams with Supervisors Phil Larson and Judy Case on votes. The three supervisors voted to put Measure O on the county ballot. Supervisors Susan Anderson and Henry Perea voted against putting the initiative on the ballot.
The four-vote requirement that Measure O would change was established by Fresno County voters in 1976.
Today, voters would be wise to pass Measure O on Nov. 6, and return that decision to a simple majority on the Board of Supervisors.
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