More dollars down the drain
Champaign County taxpayers will continue to enjoy the privilege of electing a recorder of deeds. Ain't that grand?
Champaign County Board members' decision to turn their collective back on a plan to merge the recorder's office with that of the clerk is no great crime of governance.
But it is a triumph of reflexive inertia and failure of leadership by a group of elected officials who sought office on the grounds that they are both willing and able to lead. Unfortunately, that empty rhetoric was overwhelmed by the political instinct to take the path of least resistance.
"I've got no feedback that I would say is positive about pursuing the question. If that's the case, then I don't know why we'd spend our time on it," said board member James Quisenberry.
Well, how about because combining a largely invisible, administrative office with the county clerk makes sense? How about because it would save scarce taxpayer dollars? How about because government ought to be constantly trying to do more with less rather than cling to the antiquated and expensive ways of doing business?
There's a reason county board members didn't get much public reaction to the idea of merging the recorder of deed's office with the county clerk. Most people don't know the office exists, let alone what it does.
Much was made of opinions expressing support for the office by those who use it, like lawyers. Their opinions are no great surprise, but their embrace of the status quo is reflective only of a fear of change. What difference would it make if they went to the recorder's division of the county clerk's office to do their business instead of a separate recorder's office? None.
But the deed is done. A chance to eliminate an invisible and pointless elective office that serves a select few and is indefensible as a separate entity has been lost. The only winners are those local Democrats or Republicans who dream of someday being elected to this minor post. Even if they don't know it, everybody else lost because of our board members' failure to embrace a more forward-looking administrative apparatus.