WESTERHOLD: In Tom we trust

One little, two little, three little fire chiefs, Four little, five little, six little fire chiefs. Ei
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010

One little, two little, three little fire chiefs,

Four little, five little, six little fire chiefs.

Eight little, nine little, 10 little fire chiefs.

Seven city commissioners; three township trustees; three county commissioners; a few mayors; 20 separate school districts. It's a jungle out there, where government by fiefdom values turf battles over good decision-making.

But, by golly, this divided government against itself was good enough for my great-great-great-great-granddaddy; it's good enough for me. Too many chiefs, fiefs and kings stymie economic progress, but tradition should count for something.

Besides, here's the best medicine for what ails the local economy: Step 1: Find an industry in which there is an opportunity to create 30,000 high-quality, high-paying jobs; Step 2: Locate that industry here.

NASA Plum Brook in Perkins and Oxford townships gets praise from many corners as a jewel in the rough just waiting for government officials to make the right decisions.

But these government officials -- commissioners in Erie and Huron counties -- can't make the right decisions to bring a top-flight regional airport to the 6,500-acre Plum Brook site.

And it's all Tom Ferrell's fault.

Ferrell, Bill Monaghan and Nancy McKeen need to get back to the table with their Huron County counterparts and hammer out a deal. And you can't make a deal if you're not putting anything on the table.

Huron County commissioners Mike Adelman, Ralph Fegley and Gary Bauer need to see value in a Plum Brook airport before they'll ever decide to give up the federal aviation dollars the regional airport in Huron County generates.

What's in it for Huron County? A good and legitimate question that needs answered. Economic development experts say an airport at Plum Brook could be the gateway to a high-tech future where skilled trades jobs offer a good living and a prosperous economy.

Wow. A good living in a prosperous economy -- a dream worth pursuing.

Putting something on the table might require forming a partnership with Huron County for a Plum Brook joint economic development district to share future tax revenues.

A deal with Huron County could be the spark that takes this opportunity from talk to action. That could be a tall order for Tom, Bill and Nancy, however, a trio that prefers endless babble over leadership. But this is regionalism in a higher form; they should embrace it.

Tom, Nancy and Bill regularly use public meetings after dress rehearsing the details. The real public deliberations often are kept hidden.

Tom definitely prefers the door closed. He showed this clearly with his efforts on behalf of the county Drug Task Force, county court security and the county regional dispatch committee he formed.

Ferrell's secrecy agenda all but guarantees failure, and it warrants failure. He doesn't want anything put on the table until it's all a done deal.

The "I'll tell the public when the public needs to know" attitude cuts the heart from the decision-making process.

What's left for voters? Simple-minded blind trust that Tom Ferrell's decisions are trustworthy.

Whew -- I'm no gambler.