published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Questionable public policy
Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione accused fellow Commissioner Jimmy Conner of playing politics. Campione would be more accurate -- but still just as wrong headed -- in accusing Conner of playing politics with $1 million.
That's how much it would cost to build a traffic roundabout in what Conner calls the middle of nowhere.
Actually, "the middle of nowhere" is at the intersection of County Roads 455 and 561, south of Astatula. The area is rural with few homes or businesses in sight. The only obstacles within view of the intersection are trees and fields.
Conner said: "Does this pass the common-sense test?"
Campione and Commissioner Sean Parks do have an answer to that question. However, their answer -- if we were to delve a little deeper into the issue -- still doesn't quite pass the common-sense test.
There's a reason why the project is being discussed. Federal and state highway money will pay for the work. In other words, Lake County officials would gladly accept the cash to build a roundabout to nowhere.
Conner rightly observed that deciding to accept the money places local officials into the same category as our free-wheeling legislators in Washington.
Conner said he doesn't understand why he's the lone voice in opposing the project -- especially against the distant backdrop of the federal government's $16 trillion debt.
Good public policy? Campione alludes to county records that show 10 crashes at the intersection in the past four years. Studies show roundabouts reduce crashes by 35 percent, injuries by 76 percent and fatalities by 90 percent.
Campione and Parks have described themselves as fiscal conservatives. Our question: How does throwing $1 million at a secluded intersection that averages two wrecks per year in a rural part of the county make you fiscally conservative?