The Basics of Governing


The Basics of Governing

High-speed broadband is the sexy public utility these days, the one getting the attention from the press and politicians and policy makers. And that’s fair. It has become essential to life in the modern world.

But if you want to see civilization — and business — crumble fast, just deprive a population of safe drinking water.

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That became apparent last week in Jackson, Mississippi, when the water system of the state’s largest city failed, and 150,000 residents were without running water. The immediate problem was caused by heavy rains and flooding that overwhelmed the city’s main water treatment plant. But decades of neglect have weakened Jackson’s water infrastructure.

We in central Arkansas are lucky in having a reliable, safe water supply overseen by Central Arkansas Water. Of course, that’s not really a matter of luck. That’s a matter of good governance and planning.

And last month, the steering committee that is directing the use of over $1.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds earmarked for Arkansas backed the state Department of Agriculture’s request to use $300 million of that money for water, wastewater and irrigation projects in the state. So it appears that state policy makers are also paying attention to Arkansas’ water needs.

The Jackson water crisis reminded us that in the end, politics, with its winners and losers and the thrill of “owning” the other side, is meaningless if it doesn’t result in that most boring of pursuits: good governance. And the basics of governing remain, well, the basics: providing safe water and reliable energy; ensuring our streets are safe and our schools not only safe but effective. 

Politics is a game, but governance is life. And that’s where citizen — and voter — attention belongs: on those who deliver results, not drama.