Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Changes in Local Government are Sorely Needed

(submitted to HDN Apr. 2, 2008)

According to recent quotes reported in the Hays Daily News, Commissioner Dennis Pfannenstiel now wants to abolish county-wide zoning, or at least put it to a public vote. How perverse is this? If the laws you institute for specific purposes don't serve those purposes, just repeal them. Just dismiss the zoning board and squander all the time and effort expended by volunteer citizens and board members trying to safeguard this community while they develop a plan for controlled growth.

If Mr. Pfannenstiel cared anything for the opinions of his constituents, he would never have forced zoning down everyone's throats in the first place in order to obtain a wind farm for his cronies. Now that the protections afforded common citizens by zoning law have been effectively employed to block this covert objective, he seeks to capitalize politically on the unpopularity of zoning to get re-elected. Does he really think the voters in Ellis County can't see through his blatant hypocrisy?

Mr. Pfannenstiel further revealed his ignorance of state law, if not his outright contempt for it, by publicly asserting that zoning board members were under no obligation to take an oath of office – and by extension, not liable for conflict of interest disclosures that would disqualify four board members from voting on wind ordinance regulations – because they are appointed, rather than elected, officials. Kansas State statute chapter 54-106 'Oaths and Affirmations' clearly states that all officers "elected or appointed under any law" shall take an oath of office.

Changes in local government are sorely needed if this county is to obtain responsible representation for its people. What we presently have is a callous exploitation of elected office by special interest groups with no respect for the law or the rights of common citizens. As a constituent in Mr. Pfannenstiel's district, it is my sincere hope that his candidacy is contested in his own party's primary, rather than in a general election that he is sure to lose.

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