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Supermajority vote not a good idea

August 8, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

By wisdom or dumb luck, the Chautauqua County Legislature made the right decision the other night in refusing to change the rules to require a vote of two-thirds of lawmakers in order to spend money from the county's savings account. They left in place the ability of legislators to spend that extra money by a simple majority vote.

Legislators arguing for the amendment to the county charter said it just has been too easy this year to spend extra money from the fund balance when only a simple majority of 13 votes is needed. They cite the continuing introduction of legislation to spend even more than they already have this year.

The savings - the fund balance, as they call it - should only be spent in an emergency, they said, and a supermajority of 17 legislators should be required to do that.

It would be a way to protect legislators from themselves.

But both sides missed a point.

It simply is never a good idea to change a basic governing system that has worked very well for years just because at the moment we have a body of legislators who can't keep their fingers out of the cookie jar. The remedy is to elect people next time who can.

Besides, it is all too obvious that government by supermajority is not a good idea.

Yes, some things should require a vote of two-thirds of the legislature- changing the way the county is governed, for example, or borrowing money. But not the rest.

In the end, we elect county legislators to govern. And so while we have deep-seated objections to the way legislators propose spending the county's savings account, we object even more strenuously to hindering the ability of a majority of them to decide to do so.



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