Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fixing Maricopa County

As I posted earlier, Maricopa County government is a disaster and is the center of the dysfunctional universe known as Arizona.  I make the following proposal as a means of if not eliminating the conflicts inherent in Maricopa County governments than at least it might just mitigate them.

The Proposal: Replace the current form of county government (board of supervisors, various semi-autonomous elected offices and the courts) with one modeled on the state and federal clearly defined three branches of government system.  This system would also eliminate the positions of constable and justice of the peace.
  • The Office of the County Executive - The people of Maricopa County would vote for a County Executive and a Vice-Executive to run the day to day operations of the county.  The county treasurer, county recorder, clerk of courts, county school superintendent, county attorney and county sheriff would all become appointed positions and there respective departments would be folded into the OCE.  The County Executive and Vice-Executive could serve no more than two total four year terms.  The CE would also have veto authority over the County Legislature.
  • The County Legislature - The people of Maricopa County would elect a county legislature that would handle the passing of policies, codes, regulations, county laws and budget.  The CL would also be required to approve the appointments made by the OCE to head the various departments.  The CL would be made up of one legislator for every 200,000 residents in Maricopa County based on U.S. Census data every five years.  Each legislator could serve no more than two full six year terms with one third of the CL up for election every two years.
  • The County Courts - The County Executive shall appoint members, with approval of the County Legislature, the members of the county judiciary to four year terms with voter retention kept in place.  The CE shall also appoint, with approval of the CL, seven members of the Supreme Judicial County Court to terms of six years with voter retention in place.  The SJCC would act as an appellate court for non-capital crimes and only its members may hear capital crime cases.
These fundamental changes in how Maricopa County is governed and how the day to day operations are handled.  By making the offices of county attorney and county sheriff non-elected, it allows more professional and less politically motivated people to attain those positions and bring some much needed sanity back to those offices.  The reign of Sheriff Joe Arpaio should be proof enough of that.

Sanity must be brought back to Maricopa County and the only way to do it is to start over and I think my proposal is one that could work and could be approved by the voters of Maricopa County.

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