When did 'choice'
become a dirty word?
June 22, 2011 - "I like a little rebellion now and then . . . The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."
– Thomas Jefferson
One of my favorite words in the English language is "choice" because to me it goes so well with some of my other favorite words – freedom, liberty, self-government.
In the American political system, the most pure and direct way that people make choices is via the ballot.
We elect our leaders through the ballot. At the state and local levels, we can enact laws, approve (or reject) taxes and decide whether to sell or purchase property through the ballot.
The ballot is at the very heartbeat of our democratic republic.
That's why it both saddened and disappointed me to hear some of my fellow residents at the June 14 Oxford Village Council meeting state they were opposed to the idea of putting the issue of police services on the ballot (see Page 4).
Well, this is one village resident who wants a choice. This is one village resident who believes all village residents should be given a choice.
Fact is, the current incarnation of the village police was created by a vote of council in December 1999, not a vote of the people. Since then, the annual millage levied to fund the police department has been decided by council, not a vote of the people.
I don't think it's too much to ask that in these difficult financial times, village residents be given a choice regarding how much they wish to pay for police services, especially if it's possible to save money by outsourcing.
I know that legally we can't have an advisory ballot with language specifically asking voters to choose between the Oxford Village Police and the Oakland County Sheriff.
But what about a ballot asking voters whether they want to pay X mills or Y mills for police?
Prior to the election, the village could conduct an informational campaign to let voters know that one millage rate represents how much it costs to fund the local department while the other tax rate represents the amount necessary to fund a sheriff's department contract.
If a majority of residents are truly are happy with the local police in terms of service and the amount of taxes they're paying, they'll vote that way and I won't bring the issue up again because the people have spoken.
But I really don't know how the entire village feels and I'm sorry that I'm just not arrogant enough (I know it's hard to believe) to say I know for a fact everybody wants their local cops or everybody wants county deputies.
That's why I want to see this finally go on the ballot.
In my mind, there are only two real reasons why someone would not want this question on the ballot:
A) They wholeheartedly support the local police, but they aren't confident that enough village residents share their opinion, so they don't want to risk it.
B) They're so arrogant they honestly believe voters are just too darn ignorant, uninformed or easily-swayed to truly understand the issue and as a result, the electorate could make what they deem to be the wrong decision.
Either way, they don't want the question to be asked because they're afraid of the answer. To me, that kind of thinking is the antithesis of a free society.
I support giving people as many choices as possible; whether or not I like the outcome is my problem.
We should not fear the ballot. We should fear people who fear the ballot.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.