The Rockford Files

One City, No Leaders

Regionalism has been the chief buzzword of the Rockford Register Star for several years now, and, for once, on a rather limited level, I actually agree with the local Gannett paper.  There are certain problems facing Rockford that require coordination with surrounding communities and with county government, especially questions of land use.  This section of Northern Illinois consistently makes the American Farmland Trust’s list of the ten most-endangered farming areas, and local developers, taking advantage of politicians’ lust for tax dollars, have created suburban sprawl that must look, from above, like a bacterial culture, slowly but inexorably choking off all open space in the petri dish that the LGP calls “the Rock River Valley.”

Regionalism, of course, can be consistent with subsidiarity—the idea that the authority to address a particular issue should remain at the appropriate (i.e., the lowest) level.  It can also be used to subvert subsidiarity, however, and sometimes in rather subtle ways.  Throughout the 12 years of the Rockford school-desegregation lawsuit, for instance, the LGP ran monthly stories on the local real-estate market that routinely discussed regional housing values and numbers of sales, masking the destruction in the more geographically limited Rockford school district wrought by the highest property tax rate in the nation. ...

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