What do you do when your town’s politics has been bitter and internecine for years, when your police force is best known for hiring disgraced cops from other departments, and when your town budget is nearly half a million bucks in the red?
Well, not quite. The town of Maywood, not far south of downtown Los Angeles, was in just such a pickle, and resorted to a rather extreme solution: The elected officials, town manager, and city attorney kept their positions, but everybody else was let go.
The move was forced by the fact that no insurance company would guarantee the burg. The town had grown so iffy on all counts that it would have been crazy to bet on it. Thus placed in legal jeopardy, the town’s leaders decided that the only way to keep their jobs was to get rid of all others.
No. Wait. That’s too cynical. With a civic culture so corrupt something had to be done to move forward.
That makes Maywood’s next step almost sheer genius: Contract police, fire, everything else to neighboring, better-run jurisdictions. The county Sheriff takes over police patrols. Bell, a neighbor city, takes over the bulk of municipal services.
The new arrangement begins July 1. This makes Maywood one city to watch. Could it be a bellwether? In collapsing California, very likely.
And what about other cities in other states? It might mean a revolution: Economic competition for public services.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.