Democracy is a “messy” form of government because it involves, well, people. Lots of them. It is the chief reason our founders decided against a pure form of it as a way of running a national government. They knew a republic would incorporate enough of the democratic principle to allow for citizen input, but also provide enough representation to not allow every decision to degenerate into a never-ending, fractious squabble.
Fascism is much more efficient. Benito Mussolini, Italy’s early 20th century dictator, could “keep the trains running on time,” and was considered a hero for doing so. Americans, on the other hand, like being part of the decision-making process. We appreciate our freedom and the ability to express it at the ballot box.
Too, one doesn’t have to read much history to know a significant number of our founding fathers didn’t really trust the masses, at least with issues of national import. They wanted elected officials to listen to their constituents but then make the final call themselves on important issues.
Our founders also knew democracy works better at the local level and left it up to states and municipalities to figure out how to run their respective local governments.
With that in mind, it seems to me Ada city councilors leaned more towards democracy than republicanism when they solicited committees consisting of city residents to decide where to locate facilities financed with “Penny for Your City” tax revenues, and for that, they should be congratulated.
By its very nature, democracy takes longer and some residents lost patience with the process because it seemed to take an eternity for a decision to be rendered on where to locate the proposed new fire and police stations.
As one who was involved with the fire station committee, I know the work that went into arriving at the decision to locate it at Broadway and 14th Street. It was a painstaking process that included site visits to multiple possible locations around town. In the end, the Broadway and 14th Street site was chosen because it was the one that allowed the greatest opportunity to achieve what Ada firefighters want most — a four minute response time to the greatest portion of their coverage area.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to call these dedicated individuals to your home, you know how seriously they take their business.
Other locations may have been beneficial in different ways, but the one chosen by the committee and agreed to by city councilors last week was the one that put residents’ safety and well-being ahead of any other consideration.
Locating the fire station in this spot is not yet guaranteed. There are details to be worked out and that part of the process is just getting started. But city councilors should be given kudos for agreeing to let the democratic process continue even after the vote on “A Penny for Your City,” to details of implementation of its tax proceeds.