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June 15th, 2010 5:53 pm
Florida Tries “Federalism” at the County Level

Political science purists would quibble with using the term federalism to describe a county government’s ability to declare itself able to act against the wishes of federal and state government…but who cares?

Certainly not the take-the-bull-by-horns types running Florida’s Okaloosa County.  With the Gulf Oil Spill threatening to damage the county’s Choctawhatchee Bay, supervisors “voted unanimously to give their emergency management team the power to take whatever action it deems necessary to prevent” that from happening.

That means the team, led by Public Safety Director Dino Villani, can take whatever action it sees fit to protect the pass without having its plans approved by state or federal authorities.

Commission chairman Wayne Harris said he and his fellow commissioners made their unanimous decision knowing full well they could be prosecuted for it.

“We made the decision legislatively to break the laws if necessary. We will do whatever it takes to protect our county’s waterways and we’re prepared to go to jail to do it,” he said.

Isn’t it instructive to see the relationship between a politician’s decisiveness and his proximity to the people most affected by the spill?  Maybe there is something to the idea that any activity that can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be.  If anything, the Obama Administration’s hunger for more centralized power over health care, the financial sector, and even the oil spill is showing the limits of so-called “comprehensive” solutions.

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