Local control issue actually reveals a 2-edged sword

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

The persistent and ancient issue of local control is a two-edged sword. Local control on one hand can be an essential policy because people who live here know best what’s needed and prudent. On the other hand, local control can be used to justify the unjustifiable.

A terrific example of local control knows best surfaced in the Moline area not long ago when the state stepped in, through the Michigan State Police, to increase the speed limit on 12th Street from Division to 144th Avenue in town to 40 miles per hour.

The speed limit for quite a spell had been 25, and it should remain that way because the road in question is dominated by residences with children. The 12th Street stretch is somewhat unusual in that it is a straightaway off the rural Division highway (old U.S.-131), but it immediately is transformed into that residential area.

But State Police came in at the behest of state officials and determined that the limit should be increased by 15 mph and installed signs saying so.

The Dorr and Leighton Township Boards have expressed their dismay with this development and are considering petitioning whomever is is in charge of this policy to reconsider.

I know not what why state authorities agreed to bump up speeds in a residential area, but this is a solid iron-clad case of local folks knowing better on what the policy should be.

It is my sincere hope that the state’s powers that be wake up and smell the coffee in the interests of public safety. All it would take is one tragic incident to reveal the folly that exists now.

Chalk one up to those who insist local people know better about the needs and wants for local issues, but there is another, darker side that goes in the opposite direction.

When Alabama Gov. George Wallace was running for president in 1968, he was asked about the race problem. He replied that “We don’t have a race problem down here. We take it as a local issue.”

Wallace was using the old worn out and unethical argument that permitted Jim Crow laws to exist for far too long in the Old South, when people of color were kept from voting and from enjoying rights that white folks were able to take for granted.

Local control between 1865 and 1965 was the excuse for discriminating against African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. Local control permitted area cities such as Hastings to post signs warning black folks to get out of town before dark or face the consequences.

States’ Rights, which so many defenders of the Confederacy have said was the real reason for the Civil War, actually meant States’ Rights to own slaves. Maybe someday all of us collectively will have to come to grips with our egregious sins of the past, admit they occurred and were wrong and then move forward with the pledge to do everything necessary to be fair to all human beings, regardless of what they look like.

Yes, local control is a two-edged sword. It’s right as rain sometimes, but horribly wrong in other circumstances. 

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