In science and industry, new technologies and new methods constantly replace old ones. Contrast that with governments, which are endlessly studying the same issues. Problems do not get resolved because political will is lacking. A case in point: jurisdictional cooperation in the Baltimore region.
In 1963, a blue-ribbon commission made two recommendations "to prepare the way toward metropolitan government in the Baltimore area." After much political haggling, legislators in Annapolis agreed to create a joint metropolitan planning organization known today as the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments. But they rejected an equally important proposal for a metropolitan service agency that would have run jails, trash disposal, transportation and water and sewers in Baltimore City and the neighboring counties. Countless committees have subsequently tried to figure out what to do with those services; the problem remains unresolved.
Now the very existence of the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments is in doubt.
The new executives who were elected last fall in Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford and Baltimore counties do not seem to understand what the state-mandated planning panel does with its $2.6 million budget and 43 employees. "We don't get our money's worth," Anne Arundel County Executive Robert Neall says of the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments. "It needs another look, it needs a mission."