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Ken Rechtin's Another Voice: Regionalism is Dead in Northern Kentucky?

Last week’s Survey Says

77 % of those responding identified themselves as Republicans. 66% of those Republicans indicated that they will vote for Bevin in the primary on May 19th, while only 20% indicated that they would vote for the candidate with the local running mate and 10% said they will be voting for Heiner. Scott finished a dismal fourth place with 4% of the poll.

62% of the Democrats who responded to the survey indicated that they favored Bevin, 16% favored Comer and 15% liked Heiner. Wil Scott finished last with 6% of the poll. 

(Democrats cannot vote in the Republican Primary. Kentucky does not allow open primaries.)

Time is running out, May 19th is right around the corner.

Be sure to vote for the candidate you favor!

Now onto this week’s rant about regionalism…

Chamber of Commerce folks remind me often of the advancements we have made here in NKY in the area of regional cooperation. In fact, Governor Steve Beshear often says NKY is the envy of the rest of the state when it comes to working together! 

Some say our regional cooperation began when the current Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce emerged from the three distinct county Chambers. The Chamber’s role in the creation of the Sanitation District, the Water District, and Tri-Ed (touted as the regional economic development agency for NKY) is noted as the major achievement of our Chamber and of our region. The marvels of regionalism are said to have fostered the economic growth in NKY. (Others say the economic growth would have happened anyway just because of our proximity to Cincinnati.) 

I say we should be proud of all that has been accomplished in Northern Kentucky. I am amazed at what can be accomplished when we are united as one region.

But “Northern Kentucky Regionalism” is dead! 

Some would have us believe the idea that we can work together to solve our regional problems, that we can create better systems to more efficiently deliver services or that we can create more services at less cost is no longer valid, because we have reached perfection. In some political circles, such collaboration is thought of as the beginning of socialism. It has become political suicide to even discuss potential areas of cooperation.  

So, has Northern Kentucky already achieved its pinnacle of regional successes? Isn’t there any more benefit to be achieved with further cooperation between our multitudes of governments? Aren’t there any benefits to further reductions in governmental costs and more effective use of our limited resources? Didn’t our past “visioning” processes (Forward Quest, Vision 2015 or Vision 20XX) indicate that there was more to be achieved through regional cooperation? Isn’t a large part of our collective underlying problem associated with the fragmentation that is built into our three county and numerous cities system?

Maybe we are already “good enough”. “Good Enough” is exactly the phrase I have heard used recently when the topic of additional regional cooperation was discussed.

Consider the following questions:

Could we more efficiently deliver fire protection services by combining some of the numerous fire districts and utilizing the equipment and manpower more efficiently? 

Or, are we “good enough”?

Could we provide emergency helicopter search and rescue service to all three of our Northern Kentucky counties by combining our resources? 

Or, are we “good enough” without such helicopter services?

Could we have large tracts of green space for our recreation with a combined tri-county park district? 

Or, are we “good enough”?

Could we share in the administration costs of a regional jail system and reduce the expenses to each County? 

Or, are we “good enough”?

Could we provide better section 8 and public housing services to all of Northern Kentucky by combining our efforts?

Or, is it “good enough” that a multitude of agencies provide these services?

Could we have a regional police and fire authority which polices the Ohio and Licking rivers protecting our valuable resource for recreation and transportation? 

Or, is it “good enough” that there is a hodgepodge of agencies policing the rivers?

Could we provide advanced life support services to all the residents in our region by working together?

Or, is it “good enough” that each of the cities, counties, and fire districts provide the service independently?

Would a tri-county library system provide library services to more of our citizens with more books, electronic offerings, and computer access or research facilities? 

Or, are we doing a “good enough” job already?

Could we collect taxes through a single entity, thereby reducing collection costs? If so, we would have either more money to spend on services for our citizens or could we return some of their taxes back to them?

Or, do we do a “good enough” job having each city and county doing their own tax collections?

Do I profess to know the answer to even one of these questions?

No. Then again, I don’t think we should ever feel that we are “good enough”. We can always be better. We can always achieve more.

There are great gains to be made in re-energizing that cooperative spirit that once thrived in NKY.

In the ever fading past, our region used to see such challenges as regional opportunities to achieve results that made us stronger. Always, the collective answer resulted in something more, something that we could not have done alone. 

So, are we “good enough” already? Tell me what you think in this week's survey: click here.

The views and opinions expressed here in “Another Voice” do not reflect the views or opinions of The River City News, its owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of Ken Rechtin. If you wish to make comment to Another Voice, Ken can be reached via email at [email protected] or you may leave a comment here. All rights to use of Another Voice in any fashion are retained by Ken Rechtin. Please contact him for any use of his columns.