Centennial Home Rule is a bad idea. Establishing home rule grants the city more power to govern. With more power comes more government. With more government comes more power to control our lives. Home rule, now at the draft charter stage with an election set for June 10, essentially creates a state within a state. Obviously, with home rule, both stewardship and execution of our local government becomes more critical and important to our wallets and way of life. Perhaps home rule is inevitable. But before we go there, this city needs to grow up. We need to learn how to walk before we can run. The east and west sides of the city are like separate cities with separate problems, challenges, and goals. Centennial is barely seven years old. We need more time to discern who we are, and to come together based on a similar vision. We need to figure out who and what we want to be when we grow up. A recent city survey indicated that 400 or so residents want more city services, a.k.a. bigger government. Voting “No” in June on whether to adopt the home rule charter will send the appropriate message that 400 survey respondents don’t, and won’t, speak for 103,000 residents.
If we pass home rule now and grant our city legislators more power and more authority, we will create a set of problems that will take years to undo. This attempted power-grab is systemic of the city’s current attitude that our city should behave and “…act more like a 600-pound gorilla.” (Mayor Pye to City Council, Jan. 5, 2008) Passage of home rule will allow the city to throw its weight around without first having the knowledge and leadership skill necessary to ensure that we won’t just fall out of the tree.
Like me, you must determine whether you feel this city is ready for the additional powers home rule status would grant. Picture in your mind a teenager asking, for the first time, to borrow the keys to the family car. As you decide if this young person is ready for the responsibility of caring for the car, themselves, and others, your decision comes down to a determination of your level of trust. Do you trust your city leadership to behave responsibly with this new power?
As with driving a car, having the keys to power doesn’t mean we’re ready to use them wisely.
Businessman Ron Phelps was a candidate for city council last year in Ward I on the west side of Centennial